Let’s be honest… when you think of a musician at any level (school-aged, collegiate, professional, etc.), you don’t necessarily think of them having many run-ins with physical stress or injury. But that’s not true at all! From beginner to pro, musicians have to learn to deal with a significant amount of strain from areas of their body that may not be utilized as often otherwise. This is worthy of a discussion! Check out these three steps to ensure that you or your student prevents any of these setbacks.
Tune in to how it feels to play.
Regardless of whether you’ve just performed a love song to a practice track in your bedroom or conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, take a few moments to assess how your body reacted to the strain no matter how large or small. I personally recommend a practice journal to record not only what you practiced and for how long, but also any comments as to how your body reacted.
Warm-up & stretch before and after you perform.
Depending on what instrument you study (and yes, your voice is absolutely an instrument!), isolate the muscles that you regularly utilize. For example, if you play clarinet, isolate the jaw and the wrists. If you play the tuba, isolate the abdomen! If you are a singer, certainly isolate the throat/vocal cords. Perform dynamic stretches and warmups to these areas before you begin. This should always be step one! Then, following the completion of the session, “warm down” using relaxation processes to ease your body back in to its typical state.
If something is bothering you, pause.
Musicians are passionate. They love what they do, and sometimes couldn’t even imagine life without their art form. However, sometimes this passion can get in the way if other threats to their interaction with the practice of music come about. These threats that appear as an injury are not dismissible, and are seriously detrimental. In addition to our wanting to practice often, this continuity and repetition of an action can cause strain that wouldn’t normally exist. Therefore, don’t automatically disregard an unusual feeling or pain, especially in an area of your body that receives more attention than usual. Being proactive in changing habits and altering muscle memories is extremely important for your body’s sake.
In order to continue doing what you love, taking care of your body is the first step. Almost all career musicians have been through this at some point, and would not hesitate to offer advice. Please do contact any of our expert instructors on your instrument or our general contact page with any questions. A world with healthy musicians is certainly a better world!
- Tyler Long, Administrative Assistant/Music Instructor at Vibe Music Academy.