Shifting Into Sound Self Care: Owning YOU to Own Your Performance

Written by: Kai Potts-Smith, AYS Alumna '04

The past year has been difficult for everyone, especially musicians. As we look forward to better days ahead, including a return to live concerts, AYS is happy to share the insights of one of our alumni who has been specializing in helping musicians with self-care and wellness. This guest blog post comes from Kai Potts-Smith who joined AYS as Associate Principal Violist during the 2004 season, and is a successful viola player, yoga instructor, and wellness advocate. Kai has over 20 years of professional playing experience, and learned that “in order to be a whole musician, you really need to take care of yourself and wellness.” Continue reading to learn more about Kai’s approach and recommendations to starting a self care practice.

When you make the commitment to go ALL IN on yourself, elevate your vibration, 

and show up 100% for your vision, 

you open up the door to heal, inspire, and connect deeply to those you love and the communities you serve

(and isn’t that really why we became musicians in the first place?)

It’s time for a change.

It’s time to OWN YOUR LIFE.

It’s time to show the world that there is no just about being a musician anymore.

It’s time to go all in on ALL PARTS OF YOURSELF, find balance, and learn how to integrate wellness into what you do and how you see yourself as a musician.

The possibilities are endless in the amount of impact we can create as artists when we show the world who we really are and what we are capable of when we listen inward and embrace the inner healer.

I know what you’re thinking, “but wait, didn’t I already go ALL IN when I chose to become a musician and make my instrument my craft, my passion, my profession, my reason, and my why? Do I even have time to find this balance you speak of when there is just so much that needs to happen for me to become the best?”  Because I thought that too…

Remember this?

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice…”, I vividly remember hearing this lovely old adage on repeat growing up. My mom (forever my rock and biggest fan) even held up a sign with exactly that on the TODAY Show the morning of my first performance there. I performed in Carnegie every year for a decade after that, and even had my solo recital debut! I cherished every moment. 

And then there’s these:

✔️Practice, and become the person you want to be. 

✔️Perfect your technique and musicality so people will show up to your concerts. 

✔️30 minutes/day isn’t going to cut it, but if you can clock an even 6 hours or so, you’ll start to really see progress. 

✔️Oh, and make it fun, but remember to keep those grades up too. 

ENTHUSIASTIC APPLAUSE for the voices dictating my life as a musician and trust me, I listened wholeheartedly. 

I loved it. I lived it. I was it. And the truth is, it worked… until it didn’t.

I learned the hard way that I also needed to take care of myself in ways that go beyond the typical needs of others. No one really explained to me in those early days that musicians are ATHLETES. I didn’t believe the tales of burnout, overuse, and that there are limits to what the mind can take…until it all happened to me. 

It all came tumbling down. Everything changed overnight. I was utterly broken. Two near-career ending injuries in two years, out of the blue. Two years of recovery, discovery, self-reflection, and recalibration of a lifetime that brought me to an important realization… 

Musicians, we are practicing the wrong way.

Practicing singularly, and daresay, obsessively focused on just one pursuit means that all else fades into grey, things like: taking care of the body, feeding the mind & spirit, nurturing relationships, learning to support yourself if you don’t make Mount Everest’s peak. What’s lacking in living and breathing dreams, is usually the very thing that comes to bite us hard in the end… 

It doesn’t have to be that way… 

Everything shifted when I shifted into balance. And here is how you can do it, too:

Prioritize your self care with my FREEDOM FRAMEWORK

  • Free your BODY. Musicians are athletes and so need to actively stretch and strengthen the specialized muscles used for the instrument and keep the whole body in performance condition. Get sports massages. Try energetic body work like acupuncture or raindrop therapy to free up tension in the body. Practice yoga, or even better yoga+HIIT to invigorate the whole body in less time and stimulate both the fast and slow twitch muscles (both are necessary for overall body conditioning). Take 5 minutes every morning to breathe intentionally and move organically with your breath. Notice where you feel resistance and breathe into and through it. 
  • Free up your FREE TIME. Reclaim your energy. Schedule in space in your life to practice FUN things other than your instrument and connect with the people that matter. Make time for a virtual chat with a friend.  Go to the beach. Read a book that you don’t have to. But schedule it all in! If it’s not in the schedule, it doesn’t happen, and fun is usually the first thing to go. Make this a part of your routine! You make time for what matters. 
  • Free your MIND. Find a way to disconnect from the hustle and reconnect to yourself (mine is the sound healing method I created for myself and my clients). Meditate. Take a nature walk or a hike. Make space for stillness. This is where passion and creativity are born. 
  • Free your PURPOSE. Connect to your vision outside of simply being a great musician. Who do you want to help and how? What is your WHY? Write it down and look at it every day. 
  • Free your FOOD & Embrace Your Deliciousness. aka make the food you eat an experience in itself, need I say more?

Feed your entire being with what it needs every single day. Show up and own all aspects of your life. 


How would it feel to instead present your art at your best and feel nourished from the inside out, to really own your vision and muster the courage to stop playing small waiting for some agent or audition to bestow you with the life you want, and to step up powerfully whole to share your passion and creativity with the world?

It was this question that brought me to an entire new way of being that saved me, that filled in the missing pieces and made me whole again, the musical wellness practice that I created and now use every day to heal myself, make a sustainable living doing what I love, and help others find ways to heal themselves, too. This new “thing” is The VIOL∀ibrational Method: sound healing and self-care that saves you from the inside and inspires you to rise higher within. 

I used what I know and love (viola, yoga, and delicious nutrition) to create a new profession around everything I embody as an artist. I dived deeply into the world of fitness, food, and frequency and simplified years of searching into a powerful system for transformation. I get to work with clients 1:1 and bring the symphony to them on a personal level to help audiences around the world reconnect to their passion, remember WHY they want to be in the concert hall, and find peace, relief, and release everyday. 

Sound is powerful. We feel it every time we pick up our instruments or attend a performance. And guess what, that sound has been healing you too, every time you play a note! 

You are powerful. You can change another’s trajectory with the symphony of your soul. 

First heal yourself, then heal the world. When you are truly yourself from the inside out, your passion can be expressed to its fullest potential. 

Own YOU, world changer!

AYS is hosting a workshop with Kai for current AYS musicians, to dive deeper into her practices for musician wellness.  If you’re interested in learning more about her methods, check her out on Facebook at The Six Figure Sound Academy, or email Kai at  Thank you, Kai, for sharing your insights with the AYS orchestra and community!  

About Kai:

Experience the evolution of sound and turn your intuitive talent into a superpower with violist and sound healer Kai Potts-Smith, founder of VIOL∀ibrational by Kai and YOUnison Yoga & Music. Kai’s on a mission to open up new avenues of expression, connection, and financial abundance in the music and entrepreneurial world. Her signature modality, The VIOL∀ibrational Method, integrates fitness, food, and frequency into a powerful therapeutic tool that’s helping change-makers around the world live lives full of purpose, find balance and deep relaxation, and achieve new levels of exhilaration as they embrace and OWN their radically authentic selves.

She’s grown a thriving practice full of consistent clients steadily releasing baggage, relieving stress and anxiety, and transforming their lives… and she wants that for YOU, too!

The Six Figure Sound Academy is her online business and wellness training program for professional musicians ready to utilize The VIOL∀ibrational Method to create engaged communities, transform money mindset blocks into business savvy, and get on the road to six figures on YOUR terms. The OWN YOUniversity signature wellness program inspires its members to redefine deliciousness, tap into their highest frequency and embrace a balanced life centered in self-love. Let’s meet on the mat and the worldwide stage to breathe deeper, live deliciously, and OWN the BIZ of 7-Figure Soul Medicine.

CYT-500, RYT-200 Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga

Spinal Reset Certified

Yoga Shred Certified

Core Strength Vinyasa Trained

Sound Healers Association

American Youth Symphony

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