Setting Up As Meditation

I've been a musician for most of my life. In that time I've hauled a lot of equipment around, from huge drum sets augmented with timpani and percussion, to large and intricate Gong arrays. In all that time I've never really minded the set up and tear down of my gear.

Setting up is very meditative for me. I prefer to set up in silence, concentrating on each piece of my stands as I put them together, then concentrating on each instrument as I hang or mount it. Too often, people at the venue either want to help, or to chat. I try to be polite, replying that there's really nothing they can do to help at this time (I'm always happy to have help for loading in and out though), or quickly answering any questions, then getting back to the task at hand.

I know many musicians who complain about setting up and tearing down. They are only focused on the actual performance time. But I find it important to take my time setting up as a preparation for the coming performance. Focusing on setting up helps me get into the right frame of mind for performing. I find it a special time for myself where I can not only make sure everything is set up correctly, but to spend time with being present, focusing only on what I'm doing. The same thing in tearing down and packing everything up. I'm present, focused on each piece of my stands, or each instrument, being safely put away in their cases, ready for the next performance.

I find that if I'm present setting up, then I'm more present when I perform. There is a path here—set up, perform, tear down—with each step another along the path.

Be present when setting up, and you will bring that presence into your performance.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™


  1. I am with you. The entire process can be a meditation. No one aspect is separated from the other. Like you I don't like to be rushed is my only thing.


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