You Play Your Instrument With Your Legs, Too

In Fitness by Angela0 Comments

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 Angela0 Comments

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 Angela0 Comments

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 Angela0 Comments

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 Angela0 Comments

 

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.

Music Strong is featured on WSMV Channel 4 in Nashville!

In Corrective Exercise, Fitness by Angela0 Comments

Well this is super exciting! “Today in Nashville” found out about Music Strong and wanted to interview us to find out just what we do and who we are. If you missed it, the story aired  on January 23, 2017 between 11 AM-12 PM on WSMV Channel 4.  They did a great job showing just Music Strong Fitness Training is helping members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra overcome overuse injuries and stay at the top of their game as one of the leading symphonies in the Nation!   The Nashville Symphony shared it on their Facebook page as well and if you haven’t already, why don’t you hop over there and like our page and show them some love, too?  Here’s the video!

Activating a Weak Rotator Cuff Using the Body Blade

In Fitness, Flute by Angela0 Comments

Have you heard of the Body Blade? It looks deceptively easy, but if you have any muscle weakness you’ll be shocked how difficult it is to control. This is an excellent tool for activating the weak muscles of the rotate cuff which can be especially painful in musicians such as flutists, guitarists, string players and pianists. Start out with 5 sets of 5 repetitions and gradually increase to 1-2 minutes each.

Do you have other favorite Body Blade exercises? Leave us a note below and share the knowledge!

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Playing Flute With Double Jointed Fingers

In Fitness, Flute, Resources by Angela0 Comments

When I was in the Nashville Youth Symphony in high school, a fellow flutist had these beautiful rings I commented on and to my amazement she told me: “oh, I have double jointed fingers. These rings help prevent my fingers from flying backwards if I play too fast.”
Say what??
So I looked into it and through the years I have recommended these beautiful rings to any student who has joints that hyperextend (extend beyond the normal range of motion) and also to clients/students with arthritis and other maladies. I’ve never seen anything like these products and not only are they highly effective, they look just like jewelry so no one will give it a second thought.Hyperextension of fingers
Hyperextension or even “double jointed fingers”

Hyperextension of a finger joint beyond the neutral position may result in a painful joint, decreased power when pinching and a delay in being able to bend the finger. Without stabilizing or “blocking” the hyperextension, the deformity can become progressively worse. In addition to looking very abnormal, severe hyperextension can ultimately result in a loss of function because the joint becomes “stuck” in the hyper-extended position.

swan neck splint ring hitch ring
 
Do you or does your student have what’s called a “hitch hiker’s thumb”? This is where the top thumb joint bends farther back than normal, in some cases, parallel with the floor. For a flutist this can present a particular challenge because the thumb is supposed to not push the flute up from below, but rather push the flute out away from the body, which counteracts the pushing inward from the first joint of the left hand index finger. Chin and right hand pinky are used for stability. If you have hyperextension of the thumb, this is next to impossible. They have several beautiful options to actually fix this and according to their website:

Hyperextension of the end of the thumb beyond the neutral position may result in a painful joint, decreased power when pinching and difficulty picking up or manipulating small objects. Without stabilizing or “blocking” the hyperextension, the deformity can become progressively worse, ultimately becoming stuck in the hyperextended position, making it impossible to pick up objects or write.

 
Triggering
trigger

A nodule or inflammation and “thickening” on the flexor tendon may cause irregular movement of the finger. The finger feels “locked” in the bent position and when it is straightened, there is a painful snap. Repetitive activities aggravate this condition and pain starts limiting function. Splints may be used to limit bending of the finger for several weeks to allow the inflammation to diminish. This can be a reoccurring problem with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Sound like you? They have some really beautiful pieces to help with this.  They have pieces that treat Tenosynovitis in the palm, fingers and thumb.
So if any of this sounds like you, check out their website at:
http://www.silverringsplint.com/problems-addressed/hyperextension/
You can also download their brochure on their website or here:
Brochure

Physical Fitness for Vocalists and Athletes Post-Surgery

In Corrective Exercise, Entrepreneurship, Fitness, Motivation and Success by Angela0 Comments

Just because vocalists don’t hold an instrument doesn’t mean they don’t have specific muscle imbalances that can hinder their musical careers.  Meet Liz, a vocal coach and voice trainer here in Nashville who utilized our services to improve her posture, body awareness and freedom of movement to release tension in her neck, upper back and hips and can sing better than ever before!
Susan is a chiropractor and former college athlete who has torn her ACL twice with only 40% left and also suffers from scapular winging.  She wants to become balanced and strong again and with our help is achieving that goal! We are focusing on the weak muscles and releasing the tight ones to bring her body back into balance and function so she can return to the sports she loves!