It wasn’t too long ago that I came across a breakthrough in my performance/teaching career that would change everything. For the longest time I have always believed that my nerves were a 50/50 shot when I would go up to teach or perform.
I believed this because sometimes I would go up and feel great! However, my hands would be shaking, my speech would be awkward & shaky, and I would feel as if I had very little control over my body. The other 50% of the time I would be performing/teaching and feel incredibly nervous about the situation on the inside, but this is simply because I felt unprepared. Almost always in these situations I would start a little hesitant, and slowly warm up to the situation.
Now Diet Coke (one of my most favorite drinks), most importantly its key ingredient Aspartame (the chemical that makes it “better” than regular Coke with all those calories), was the primary cause of my insane nervous twitching/shaking/slurred speech. I found this out about a month ago and just realized that maybe I should write about it, because I never would have thought that my favorite drink was causing these problems. I always believed it was all in my head, just plain old nerves.
So about a month ago I went to go promote myself for my trumpet studio I was planning on opening in Phoenix. I had become pretty chummy with the directors, and they had asked me to play for their students so they can warm up to me. Also mainly so they can hear what I have to offer, and see if I would be a good model for their students. Well, lets just say I crapped all over a beautiful Charlier Etude for them. Now usually this is no problem, usually I am in an area where people know who I am and what I can do. Here however in Arizona where I know NOBODY, what I do at the moment defines who Tony Sadlon is. Anyways, the reason the etude went so poorly was not because I felt nervous but because I could not stop my hands from shaking while I was playing which did not help for playing soft and quickly.
Anyways, after that horrible performance I left very angry with myself, knowing I had probably lost all their respect. People out here are extremely nice and supportive though, so we still keep in contact and I plan to come help their school when I get the chance.
I began to talk to myself on the ride home. I kept asking myself why did this happen!? Finally, I thought about if maybe I ate something funny. All I had was a sandwich about 3-4 hours ago, and then I remembered! I simply could not resist passing Sonic without grabbing a large Diet Coke (with Cherry!) before I went to the school. Immediately I began thinking back to previous instances where this same thing had happened, it was all making sense!
For my next big premiere, with a community group that I was a little antsy for, I only drank water and one glass of regular Coke. I felt great at the rehearsal, and ever since I have been sticking to the same “drinking” schedule. I usually only drink water on a big performance day anyways, but now know that Diet Coke before something will effect me in a way that I can not control and will probably ruin some great opportunities.
What caused this exactly? The ingredient Aspartame. It is a neurotoxin, which is similar to alcohol but maybe even worse. It effects us all differently, but studies show that it can cause tumors, cancer, birth defects, and many other terrible things. Now of course you should not worry about getting these things. The only way these things should worry you is if you drink about a pack of Diet Coke a day.
For your viewing pleasure I have provided some links below to sites that will give you a much more scientific description of the chemical in this tasty yet EVIL drink. If you are a trumpet player or musician and this has effected you similar to me, please write me! I would love to hear that my story has helped someone else in the music community.