Staying Sharp on Tour

Tour map - Pyragraph
Map by Liorek.

Okay, so you’re going on tour for a good amount of time. Maybe that’s two weeks, maybe that’s a month. A lot of people I know use nights to drink and van rides to sleep. I like drinking and I love sleeping (especially on long drives). But having hours and hours of downtime, as well as visiting new places, gives a lot of opportunity for personal growth. Every band shows each other new music, and every band has deep, personal conversations about life and differing opinions and experiences. But when everyone’s silent, what are you doing to keep yourself smart?

Read an actual book.

The most obvious one here is to read an actual, stupid, real life book (it is 2017 and Kindles do count as well). There aren’t many ways to become as attentive, learn a variety of perspectives and opinions, and grow yourself artistically as reading. Reading is healthy. Fiction, biographical novels, history, studying—it’s the best way to grow your mind.

Watch movies.

Movies, to me, offer a lot of what books can. While it can get draining to watch a lot of movies at once, there’s a variety of thought and creative ideas in movies and TV shows. I took a movie analysis class in high school where I was taught to pick out key themes and messages in movies and film and then critically evaluate them. But you don’t need a class to teach you how to ask questions like, “What is this saying about the world?” and “Do I agree?” I recommend finding a list of must-see movies you, in fact, haven’t seen most of, and going through them on a longer tour (if you can download them or use 4G in the van).

Take classes. 

If you are touring for long periods of time through the year, online courses would be a great way to go for an actual education. It’s totally doable, actually. Online schooling exists for those with less money and less time on their hands. Programs like Find Your Context are great for figuring out which field to study before diving into something you’re not sure about. Some of the best online programs are the Berklee School of MusicJulliard and the non-music focused Rutgers University.

Listen to podcasts.

I have a small list of podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis, and while most of them are music podcasts, there are still way too many non-music podcasts for me to ignore altogether. One I’m going to listen to on tour in a few months is called Wrongful Conviction about people who have been convicted and imprisoned unfairly. I may also go back and listen to Depolarize! which is a podcast with Nate from the band Sherwood about the political atmosphere surrounding our recent US election. Whatever you’re interested in or want to know more about, there’s bound to be a podcast about it, and listening to it would be a great way to fill time!

Learn local history.

Dude, you’re on TOUR. There is absolutely no reason you can’t do a little bit of sightseeing while you’re on the road. Do a little advance Googling about your next stop and what there is to do that’s specific to that area. Hopefully you’re going places you haven’t been, and it’s not hard to find information on historic districts and monuments before getting there, so do a little research on the van ride over to know where those things are. If you might be out of cell range for part of the drive, plan ahead and print out the info you find, make some screenshots from Wikipedia or whatever you have to do! Or use apps like TripAdvisor.

What do you do to keep yourself busy? Hit me up on Twitter @Robolitious.

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