The Maturing Flutist

In Corrective Exercise, Fitness, Flute, Travel by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Yesterday Dr. Steve Mitchell and I co-presented at the National Flute Association Convention in Orlando, FL.  Our talk was titled “The Maturing Flutist” and it covered a lot of the issues that concern aging musicians and the elderly populations.  You don’t need to be a flutist to benefit from this, as lots of the things we covered relate to the older population in general. Dr. Mitchell is a retired ENT in Nashville, TN and brings a wealth of medical knowledge to the presentation – it was great to tag team with him!  He covered some of the more medical things and I covered some basics on how to exercise as a senior (Or as he called it “presenting demos on what to physically do to avoid disasters”)
Some of the things we covered:

  • Bone and Joints
  • Stress
  • Muscle Atrophy/Sarcopenia
  • Posture
  • Common physical problems as we age (upper and lower crossed syndrome, balance issues)
  • General strength training and cardiovascular training guidelines
  • Special population considerations

A couple of things we didn’t have time to get into:

Exercises:
Chin Tucks – 
Think about pulling the back of your head straight to the ground.  You can put your hand on the front of your neck to make sure it isn’t engaged.  Do 10-20 at a time, depending. These are best done lying down, as I’m demonstrating here.

Rows

Here’s how to do them and why

Planks

A plank is a stabilization exercise that activates the core muscles which is hugely important for everything, to be general! Without good core strength your balance is compromised, upper and lower crossed syndromes present, etc.  For flutists and wind instrumentalists, core strength is vital for support, endurance, balance, the list goes on.  To do a plank properly:

  • Put your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Bring your belly button to your spine
  • Bring your neck to the ceiling and look straight down (spine in neutral)
  • Squeeze your butt

You can do this starting out with straight arms on a table, stairs, wall etc. and work your way down to the ground.  Here’s an example of proper plank form:


To make it more difficult, make it less stable.  You can try these variations the trick is to try to keep your hips stable and don’t let them move.

Balance exercises – a lot of people asked if practicing balance while closing your eyes was a good idea and Dr. Steve and I both agreed it was not.  To make balance exercises effective:

  1. draw your belly button to your spine and stand tall
  2. lift your foot barely off the ground
  3. lift your arch
  4. Do this with good precautions like standing in a doorway or corner to prevent falling when you start

To make balance exercises more difficult, move from stable to unstable.  You can move your body around, move your leg, hinge from the hips, add motion, stand on a Bosu or half foam roll or even a pillow, have someone throw something light weight at you and you catch it.  Lots of options without having to close your eyes and increase fall risk.

To clarify about foam rolling with osteoporosis: it was a generalized  contraindication, everyone is different.  The main things to notice are where you have the most bone loss and putting pressure on those areas can increase the risk of fracture.  As always, clear things with your doctor first.

Several people asked for the power point presentation, feel free to download it here:

Mat Flute Combo 2018

I streamed it live on my Facebook page, here it is in its entirity:

 

 

We really enjoyed it and would love to hear your feedback! Had so many good questions and comments afterwards.  Looking forward to doing more on this topic at next year’s convention!

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3 Marching Band Fitness Hacks for Flutists

In Fitness, Flute by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Ah band camp….long, hot days with your instrument and at the end you’re rewarded with an aching back and feet, right?  Well, you might not be able to get out of marching band, and you might not be able to change your band director’s mind about what’s good for you to do vs. what looks good, but here are 3 postural hacks you can do on the field, without anyone really even noticing that may just make things a little more bearable.

1. Think about your posture differently

Words carry a connotation. When you hear “snap”, you probably stand very tall and might even lock your knees. We all know this is bad, no one wants to pass out.  However, we’re going for a clean and precise movements, right?  Well, the thing is, instead of thinking “back straight”, think “chest high”.  This will allow you to breathe better and feel more fluid with still excellent posture.  No one will be able to see a difference, but you’ll feel one.  Try thinking these phrases:

  • Float the flute up
  • Chest up
  • Stand tall
  • Breathe through your feet
  • Chin parallel, top of head floating up
  • Elbows relaxed
  • If you have a partner, during a break try this to see if you have relaxed arms: Stand behind your partner and have them bring their flute up.  Put your hands under their elbows and see if you can feel the weight of their elbows.

2. Alternating bracing and butt squeezing

Huh? Yep, I’m serious.  You know how at the end of the day your low back, heck, your entire back just aches and about the only thing that feels good is to lie on the floor with your feet up?  (You SHOULD do that for at least 5-10 minutes every day, by the way)  Well, this will prevent that.  Everybody knows your abs are part of your “core” but so is your rear end.  Your glutes aid in hip extension and when you engage them (ahem, squeeze) your spine is in neutral and that takes the pressure off of your low back.

Added bonus? You can’t squeeze your butt and lock your knees very easily.  Boom, no passing out!

Ok what the heck is bracing? Imagine what you would do if someone was going to punch you in the stomach.  You wouldn’t double over before they did it (you’d get punched in the face), you’d brace, that intrinsic protective feeling all around your middle.  You can do this to a lesser degree while you’re standing there.  You can do it while breathing (if you can’t, you’re doing it too hard).  Alternate bracing and butt squeezing (in a discreet way, think micro-movements) and when you get home lie on your back with your knees up and say goodbye to back pain.

3. Lift the arches of your feet

I’m giving you all the weird things today, aren’t I?  Yup, but, do your feet hurt?  Does your back hurt?  Do your knees hurt?  A big part of that can be because your feet are rolling inward and your feet are flattening out when you stand still.  Standing with your feet together, knees together is an awkward, unnatural position, and the body will compensate any way it can to keep you upright.

So try this next time you’re standing tall and still.

  • Try to lift the arches of your feet, both or one at a time.
  • This is a very small movement. It’s like bringing your big toe towards your heel and rolling outward at the same time.
  • Imagine trying to pick up something with the middle of your foot
  • All else fails, squeeze your toes inward for 4 counts, then lift them high for 4 counts and do your best to notice your arch.
  • Lastly – make sure your shoes have some arch support!

Hope these were helpful – leave me a note here, email angela@musicstrong.com or Facebook message and tell me how these worked for you and if you have any other problem areas! A more in depth article on movement and marching band is coming soon!

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Resistance Training for String Musicians – professional study

In Corrective Exercise by musicstrongLeave a Comment

YAY!! More studies on resistance training for string musicians showing positive results! There is still such a lack of scientific study in this area, so glad to see more research is being done!

I only have access to the abstract (if anyone can send me the full study, please share!) but from what I gather:

24 string musicians from 3 separate symphonies were studied, performing individually designed exercise sessions twice a week over an 11-week period. The researchers wanted to evaluate “whether a functional resistance training program can increase isometric back endurance and isometric strength in the neck, shoulder, and wrist for professional string musicians and affect their perceived performance during instrumental play, as well as their muscle and joint mobility and the occurrence and intensity of pain.”

The results?

“The group showed an 11% to 19% increase in isometric strength for neck and upper extremities and 25% improved isometric endurance in back extensors (p<0.05). Moreover, 29% to 59% of the group showed improvements in mobility”

Corrective exercise FTW!! More studies done please!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29868684

Upcoming performances and events

In Travel, Workshops by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Things are really coming along on the website, and we’ve got a few glitches to workout, but until they get fixed, I don’t want you to miss out on where you can find me and what I’m doing!

6/28/2018 Class 9-10 AM “Morning Mobility” Music City Flute Studio Flute Camp, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Donelson, TN.
Class geared towards flute students beginner-middle school level, on movement and injury prevention from the
beginning!

7/1/2018 Performance 7:00 PM Independence Day Parade and Concert with 129th Army Band, Lancaster, TN www.facebook.com/129AB

7/3/2018 Performance 7:30PM Independence Day Concert with 129th Army Band, Dogwood Park, Cookeville, TN

7/5/2018 Performance 10:30 AM “Arsenal of Fusion” woodwind group from 129th Army Band, Farmer’s Market, Nashville, TN

7/15-7-21 Residency at Stetson University:
Daily: 8:45-9:35 “Morning Mobility” classes
Daily: Fitness for flutists masterclass, times TBA
7/16/18     Faculty Recital 8:00 PM

8/10-8/12/18  National Flute Association

8/10/18   Presentation 3:00 PM NFA “The Maturing Flutist”

8/11/18 Workshop   12:00 PM  NFA “The Trainer is IN: Corrective Exercises, Stretches for Flutists” , Health Committee Booth, Convention                                                                       Exhibit Hall.
8/11/18 Presentation 2:00 PM  NFA “The Trainer is IN: Playing Flute with Cancer“, Health Committee Booth, Convention Exhibit Booth

8/12/18 Presentation 11:30 AM NFA “The Music, Mind, Body, Movement, Muscle”

9/2/18   Performance  7:00 PM Sinfonia Goes Pops! Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Alys Beach, FL

 

 

You Play Your Instrument With Your Legs, Too

In Fitness by AngelaLeave a Comment

How many times do we get caught up in what we’re doing and forget that we have knees, feet, a lower back, arches of feet? How easy is it to focus on our fingers, and lips and breath and not feel: the backs of our necks, the ridge underneath your skull, the insides of your elbows and the outsides of your arms, the back sides of your knees, your belly button?

It’s too easy.

As musicians, we LOVE music – it’s not just a love, it’s part of us, it’s who we ARE. And when we express it, it can be so easy to lose all sense of everything else. Have you ever gotten lost while playing, or conducting, or singing, or composing?  What happens an hour, 2 hours later? It’s like suddenly, at the back of your mind you feel this little wiggle of “hey, hey, HEY! I’m here…this isn’t right, I hurt, fix it please, I love you but stop, please listen to me….” And we either keep going and choose to willfully ignore said little voice, or we “wake up” and stop doing what we’re doing and say “oh my gosh, wow, my neck is tight” or maybe it isn’t even a thought or realization we just come out of our musical trance and move instinctively: leaning backwards, moving from side to side, cracking knuckles and necks.

The body is an AMAZING thing. It was designed to take care of you (even when you forget) and when we subconsciously feel stiff, we move. It’s our body’s way of re-awakening us to the awareness of the rest of us.

So here’s a thought:

In the throes of your practice/music making/composing sessions, do you play with your knees?

This isn’t a trick question.  Are your knees involved? Are you legs involved? What about your butt? Your low back? Feet, arches, calves, etc. etc. etc.?

YES

It sounds silly on one hand and perfect sense on the other…but we’d rather forget it…but hey, you use your entire body to do what you do musically, and if you neglect it…..you’ll stop being able to make music.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If you feel stiff when you stop playing, and you do this every day, or frequently, and never do anything about it, you are setting yourself up for disaster. It’s like a car that has a check engine light that comes on periodically. It may be a faulty sensor and not much, but if it keeps coming up and you ignore it, what if it’s a bigger problem and your engine seizes and suddenly you’re carless? On your way to a gig? To play with Aretha Franklin? Or the President? Or the recording session you’ve always dreamed of?  What if it was your BODY that did the same thing? You get to the dream job and after a sound check, rehearsal and even time on a bus you got to play and suddenly your low back seizes, seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s not out of nowhere friend, there were warning signs all along

 

As stated before, you use your entire body to play music, therefore, you should treat your entire body with respect, and give it the attention it deserves. Guess what? If your upper body hurts, that problem more than likely will manifest itself in your lower body as well.

What do I look for?

Look for cues:  do you tend to notice that one side of your body or one part of your body consistently feels stiff or tight after a session?

Do you notice pain in your knees that wasn’t there before?

Does your low back seem different?

 

Part of this is increasing body awareness, being aware of your entire body while you play. Staying in tune with your feet, your knees, feeling your belly button all those things. Stay grounded and check in with yourself from time to time.

What do I do?

If you’ve noticed some lower body tightness, you can start by using a foam roller on these areas and finding out what hurts.  Whatever is tight is what you need to stretch.

An Entrepreneur’s “Busy Season”

In Entrepreneurship, Travel by AngelaLeave a Comment

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a unique breed.

This is where you insert one of those “what people think I do” memes here (please feel free to share your own in the comments)

Truth is, unless you’re one of us, you just don’t understand. And that’s ok.  The world takes all types, but what I want to put out there is about how HARD entrepreneurs work and, just tell me if this identifies with you:

  • I can’t take a vacation because I’ll have to cancel clients/work and lose money
  • If I take a vacation I”ll let people down, they need me
  • People need me, therefore my schedule is completely dependent on my clients

If you identified with any of these, you’re not alone. But to go with the meme, lots of people think being an entrepreneur means you have infinite flexibility, yet, in reality, you are, to a degree, at the mercy of your client’s schedule.  When you trade time for money, it’s not that simple, is it?

Yet I want to tell you this:
YOU DESERVE A VACATION LIKE ANYONE ELSE

Not just deserve, you freaking NEED to plan it into your schedule.  You owe so much of your time to your clients, you can’t let them run your life, you’ll be of no use.

Do it, right now, Stop and look at your schedule. Because, if you’re an ENFJ (or close to it, especially the J part) like me, you live by your  schedule. But there comes a time in life you have to plan your schedule instead of letting it plan you. Be INTENTIONAL about it.

So look at your schedule, what do you see?  What I see is that life for me fills up about a week out, so, even though I have weekly clients, I can reschedule/cancel them and plan my own vaca, just like they do to me and it’s all good.

Here’s what I say:

PLAN AT LEAST A WEEK OFF FOR YOURSELF AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR.

Doesn’t just saying that make you feel lighter inside? Like there’s hope?

If you can do more than that great, but that should be the minimum.  Look at your calendar and figure out what time works best for you and say “this is when I’ll take vacation”. You don’t have to know where you’re going, and you don’t have to go anywhere, but block out some time, now, a year in advance, and if it’s on your schedule like that you just have to say “oh, I’m out of town that time” and your clients/ students will understand, no problem.

Here’s the thing: if you give your schedule control, you’ll let it control you. You will become a workaholic, a slave to your schedule, unable to reschedule or alter anything for fear of letting your clients down. Listen here.  You let them down when you DON’T take a break because you are not modeling balance.  They will end up taking advantage of you because you encourage that all in the name of the mighty dollar.

NO.

NONONONONONONONO.

This is not ok.

All of you who say “I haven’t taken a vacation since 1994” or whatever, listen up.

You are doing yourself and your clients a DEEP disservice by not creating balance in your own life. People, no matter how driven, were not made to go 100% hard all the time. Don’t you espouse the benefits of rest and sleep to your clients/students? Think about it, all those things that create balance in your life, you know they’re important, why are YOU different?

You’re not different.

 

Here’s the beauty of it though, you have to schedule it to make it so, and then it just becomes another part of your schedule.  I took my first week long vacation last year on a whim because I was so incredibly burned out, I just couldn’t think for other people anymore, I didn’t know what I wanted in life, be it personal, relational, business, etc. I was BURNED OUT.  And so I  had a gracious friend who offered me a place to stay in the mountains, and as much as I love her, I just wanted time to myself, and it was LIFE CHANGING. I spent a week doing whatever I wanted on my own time frame. I went where I wanted, when I wanted. I ate and drank what I wanted. I read, I slept, I hiked, I reveled in the joy of nature, I sat AND DID NOTHING and it was marvelous.

Why do we think vacations should end when we are children?  They are not luxuries they are necessities.  What I learned through that week was that I needed to plan for this on a regular basis, or else, it wouldn’t happen. There are ways to keep your expenses minimal while still resting and enjoying life.

Here’s how I did it:

  • Decide on a time frame.  PLEASE, give yourself  A SOLID WEEK IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, INCLUDING WEEKENDS (because you need a day before to prepare or travel, and a day afterwards to reacclimate, do laundry, etc.)
  • Be open to what’s close to you. Where haven’t you gone? It doesn’t have to be grand, but what do you need? Do you need time for your soul to rest, recharge, relax? Do you need mountains, beach? Sun?  Do you need exercise or no exercise? ALL IS OK.  If you’re in the fitness world, your vacations DO NOT HAVE TO BE ACTIVE.   Did you read that? Let it sink in.  You need time to REST. If you go 100% on all the time, you’re not giving your brain time to process, you’re not giving your body, your endocrine system, your limbic system, your muscles, etc. time to relax.  You HAVE to have this time.  Heck, God SPOKE things into being and after 6 days of it needed to rest…..take a cue, man.  You’re not better or more superhuman than God.
  • Go by yourself. When I took my vacation last year, I knew I needed to unplug from civilization. I took a vaca with a friend and ended up exhausted from it, feeling like I had to lead her around and make decisions. I needed a destination by myself so I could do what I wanted whenever. And you know what I did? I slept in. I read a lot of good books. I reconnected with who I was, and WHY I was doing what I was doing and had the time to ask and answer the hard questions: why am I doing this? Is this what I really want? Am I on the right path? What do I really want my life to look like going forward?
  • Make excuses you can’t back out of. Do you need an excuse? Sign up for a race, a ride, an event out of town, now you HAVE to go because you’ve spent money. 🙂

This year was different, I didn’t need the introspection. This year, I just needed a break and I took a little under 5 days and I can tell you, it’s not enough. I had a friend join me and while it was fun, I needed solid days of peace, of no agenda, of putting my ear down close to my soul and really listening to what I really needed and what I’ve found is, this was a breather, but it was over so fast….I’m not ready to go back. So….I’m planning a longer one just before school starts…and one at Christmas break….and….plan for it.

So, IF YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, IT WON’T HAPPEN.

You’re the boss, you can make it happen.  Tell your clients, you’re gone for x amount of time and more than likely they’ll be excited for you, give you recommendations and ask for pictures! We all need breaks.  It’s not a luxury, it’s mandatory. Sometimes you need to take the time to do continuing education, I get that, build some extra days into that. Sometimes you need a complete recharge, DO THAT.

 

SHORT TERM

So that was long term.  Let’s talk short term, as in daily planning.

If you’re like me and you show your schedule to your non self-employed friends, they laugh uneasily and then look at you funny.  They don’t get it, and they won’t, but that’s ok, because it’s what you were born to do.

HOWEVER

You were not born to work.

You have to have times during your week you say “I stop training/teaching here”. Because otherwise you’ll be at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule. It’s not completely cut and dried and everyone has to come up with their own model, but let’s be real, we work because we LOVE what we do and if we don’t plan for ourselves, we won’t have that time. You won’t have time to plan for yourself to pursue a relationship, to enjoy having down time (making time for yourself, is just as valuable as trading time for money sometimes….think about that) If you don’t have time to devote to friends, a loved one, family, a date now….you won’t ever. The schedule won’t change, YOU have to change your priorities.  Are you afraid of committing to a date/relationship/family/fun, etc.? Afraid things will take away from your money-making potential? I can almost guarantee they won’t. Because when you make time for balance: personal:spiritual:business, things are just that, in balance. But being self-employed, no one can set priorities for you.

 

It took me a long time to realize this and now I’m at the point where I realize just how necessary it is to rest, travel, relax, experience and do things outside of work.  I come back more inspired, more excited and more ready to go than before.

So if you’re self employed and you’ve implemented this, leave a comment and share what happend, how you make it work, etc.  In the meantime, I’m going to finish planning my next vaca 🙂

Study Verifies Strength Training Helps Musicians

In Fitness, Resources by AngelaLeave a Comment

Well, this is super exciting!  A study just recently published on PubMed has just come out being one of the first studies to find out if specific strength training is more helpful to musicians than general fitness.

And the takeaway?

YES!

You can read the summary here:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28599016

What exciting things to know?

  •  up to 91% of musicians experience playing related musculoskeletal pain  (wow….that’s almost everyone…)
  • Specific Strength Training showed a significant reduction in pain while general fitness showed no reduction
  • Exercise interventions have the potential to improve musicians’ working situation

In reading the entire study, this was a very preliminary test, and the authors wondered if more specific strength training (i.e. corrective exercise) would have an even greater impact on reducing musician’s playing-related pain as well as overall quality of life and career longevity.

Super exciting to have that validation that what we knew all along is now getting the study it deserves and goes to show that STRENGTH TRAINING IS HIGHLY BENFICIAL TO MUSICIANS!

Want to get ahead of the curve? Come check us out – in person or online! Summer is a fantastic time to get started on a new musician-specific strength training program, where those habits can carry you through your demanding upcoming playing/teaching/touring season. Can’t make the trip to Nashville? Remember, we do online training, too! We’ve got clients all over the USA we are helping!

Full article here: https://www.sciandmed.com/mppa/journalviewer.aspx…
#musicstrong #nashville #personaltrainng #healthymusician #strengthtrainng #correctiveexercie #nasm #nasmces #personaltrainer #fit615 #musiccityfit #helpingpeople #stronger

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Indie Mix and Mingle 8

In Entrepreneurship, Motivation and Success by AngelaLeave a Comment

Had an amazing time at Indie Mix and Mingle 8 in downtown Nashville last week!  Got a chance to meet some really amazing people in the business and I’m excited to see the interest in Music Strong and how we can help people!  If you don’t know what IMM is, you can check them out on their Facebook page here:

Indie Mix and Mingle Nashville

In the meantime, here’s some video from the evening to show you a snippet of what you missed!

Posted by Robin Earl on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

 

 

Nashville Unsigned Interviews Almost Everyone – Music Strong @18:35

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Fitness for Instrumentalists and Vocalists in Nashville Feb. 6

In Corrective Exercise, Entrepreneurship, Fitness, Workshops by AngelaLeave a Comment

 

I’m super excited to announce that Nashville vocal coach Robin Earl and I have teamed up to bring you what will be the first in a monthly series of fitness for musician workshops.  We don’t want anyone to feel excluded – this casual, interactive workshop is for everyone: vocalists, sound techs, musicians, song writers, load crew, managers, etc.  Musicians have such a unique job and one of the highest injury rates – yet we aren’t usually equipped with how to take care of ourselves, our first instrument.

Robin and I are going to cover such topics as breathing and support, posture and alignment, singing free from tension, mindful practicing and performing and then we’ll get into the excercise segment with stretches, activation and weight lifting exercises specific to different instruments/jobs.

First workshop is this Monday, February 6th from 11-12:30 PM  at the Tennessee Songwriter’s Association. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

If you’d like to buy your advance tickets for a discount, you can send $15 to angela@musicstrong.com through Venmo, Google Wallet or PayPal.

Looking forward to seeing you there and building something great!  We want this to be an ongoing project, evolving as we find out the needs of the entertainment industry, so we welcome your feedback.