Healthy Practice - Advice from BAPAM
Stay healthy and play at your best – advice from BAPAM
BAPAM (The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) is a medical charity which delivers health support to musicians and performing arts professionals and students. We give free specialist advice to help people beat work-related health problems and enjoy sustainable and successful careers! It is a service that wouldn’t be possible without some of our major funders like Help Musicians UK and the Musicians Union.
The free assessments are conducted by highly qualified and accredited health professionals who have a wealth of experience when it comes to treating performers.
So as a musician what are the things you should be thinking of when playing your instrument?
Well whatever your instrument, and whatever style of music you play, the advice from the experts promotes a holistic approach to practising and performing.
Here are just some of a chosen few to get you going.
According to our experts, allowing yourself time for physical warm-up is a must before each episode of playing, as well as a period to cool down afterwards as well.
They say it’s also important to ensure that your technique is as sound as possible, allowing of course for your level of experience and physical proportions. And whatever your level of playing you should seek regular professional advice, because bad technique may become a habit and lead to further problems.
Comfortable levels as possible when playing your instrument, checking your own posture when playing (a full-length mirror may be helpful – or even better, videoing yourself on a phone). You could also look in to making adaptations to aid your playing further using chin rests, shoulder pads, supports and straps. Expert advice from a teacher may help.
It’s also advisable to plan your practice sessions to allow frequent breaks in playing. It is important to stop before you reach any discomfort, things like kitchen timers, mobile phones or digital watches can be pre-set to remind you to break from playing.
A mixture of regular exercise (e.g. a sport of your choice, such as swimming), and relaxation will help you maximise your potential and reduce the risk of playing-related injury. Performing is stressful and tension can lead to pain and stiffness. There are many forms of exercise and relaxation techniques. Find ones that you enjoy – they’re more likely to help!
Oh and the final piece of advice from the experts here is also to get a life! There is a world outside music. They recommend finding a hobby or interest totally unrelated to your music making and spending time on that as well.
If you are in pain or have performance-related health concerns, contact BAPAM to arrange a free assessment with one of our expert clinicians. Remember that the sooner you address any problems, the less damage you will do in the long term.
Check out www.bapam.org.uk for lots more information including our free factsheets, news and events.