What’s a healthy snack?

In Nutrition by AngelaLeave a Comment

Recently, a friend gave me a call asking me for help.  She’s a band director and also in graduate school and her schedule is kind of crazy. Between teaching and driving to another town for class, she doesn’t have a lot of time to eat and was at a loss as to what was a good snack to help her out.   Planning and preparation can take the desperation out what would otherwise be a fast-food run for lack of options.
When you’re trying to figure out what are some good healthy options for you, besides thinking “portable”?   Instead of thinking in terms of specific foods and getting confused, you can simplify your options by thinking in terms of macronutrients: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats.  Instead of thinking “well, a banana is healthy….” sure it is, but if you eat nothing but bananas you’ll get burned out quickly.  Besides that, a banana is only a carbohydrate – it doesn’t constitute a balanced meal or snack.   When picking your snack options think of things this way:
1) What protein do I want?
2) Do I want to eat a carb or a fat with that?
You do not have to subscribe to the 6-8 small meals a day philosophy.  Ignore the hype and myths, it does nothing to your metabolism.  It may help to stabilize your blood sugar levels, but mainly, the small meal approach makes it simpler to get in more nutrients and proper macro ratios (i.e. enough protein, more fruits and veggies, more Vit C) into your diet.  So, if you are going to be having 2-3 snacks a day, you obviously do not have to pick the same foods each time.   Ahhhh, variety!  In fact, this order doesn’t have to relate to just snacks, I do this for every meal I eat: center my meal around protein and then figure out what I want to go with it.

So what DO I eat??

Well, let’s look at a couple different things that are great to eat on the run.  By the way, a small lunch bag/box with an ice pack is indespensible – you will be eating REAL food this way, not processed candy junk.  So, pick a protein and then pick one carb and/or one fat and you’ve got yourself a great snack!
Pick a Protein
0% Greek Yogurt
Low-fat string cheese
Low-fat Deli meat
Turkey Jerky
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
Protein Powder
Hardboiled eggs
Pick a Carbohydrate
Bananas, berries,peaches
Plums, all fruit
Raw veggies
Sprouted Bread or wraps
Low-fat popcorn
Multi-grain crackers (no HFCS)
Rice Cakes (low sugar)
Pick a fat
Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios
Peanut butter
Full-fat cheese (goat cheese is great with fruit and easy to digest)
Sunflower seeds, other seeds
Some of my favorites?

  • half of a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and mustard, maybe some low-fat cheese
  • Greek yogurt parfait with fruit and almond butter or walnuts
  • Apple and Peanut butter with string cheese
  • Protein powder mixed with Greek yogurt and topped with peanut butter (or nuts)

There are also some other ready made options that aren’t too bad when looking for on-the-go snacks.  Your best bet for healthy is 1) be as natural as possible (the less processed the better – did it grow in that form?) 2) pick protein first
Some of my go-to ready-made snacks:
Ostrim ostrich jerkey

I’m sure you’ve seen these around.  As jerkey goes, these are a better choice than most.  Why?  Well, they aren’t just made with beef, they’re also made with ostrich – an extremely lean meat.  They also do not have hydrolyzed soy protein, like a lot of jerkys do.  They’re high in protein (10g) low in fat (1-2g) and low in carbs.  Carbs?  Yes, carbs.  All jerkey is not made equal.  Lots of them have added sugars and are made with soy, not meat.  When picking your protein, you’ll notice I mention low fat a lot.  It’s not that there is something wrong with the higher fat proteins, but when you are picking a protein, you want it to be primarily that: protein.  If there are a lot of added carbs and fats, it suddenly takes on a lot more calories and then you have less volume to play with.  These jerkey sticks are about 80 calories each and make a great snack on the go.  Throw some fruit in there to balance it out and you’ve got a great snack.  A word of caution:  I’m not wild about the nitrates used to preserve these, so they aren’t perfect, but good in a pinch.  I wouldn’t make these a daily nosh.  I’m pretty sure Trader Joe’s has some nitrate-free choices, so you can check those out too for options.  Another note: make sure to drink lots of water to balance out that sodium intake!
You can buy these at lots of places: Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Smoothie King, even some gas stations.
Power Crunch Bars
These have got to be my favorite snack.  They’re a protein/fat combo and taste like cookies so they not only keep my sweet tooth satisfied, they keep my tummy satisfied and I can keep them in my purse.  Each bar has roughly the same amount of calories as a Larabar (200) and fat (12) but these have about 13-14g protein per bar and taste just like those wafer cookies you know you should stay away from (Nutter Butter anyone???).  The protein they are made with is broken down into much smaller particles so (according to BNRG) you absorb more of the protein than you might from other sources. they are also only made with whey, not soy or other proteins, which has been shown to be better absorbed.  In any case, they are TASTY!  I know you can get them from Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, GNC and I’ve even seen them in CVS and will soon be in Trader Joe’s, but you can also check out their website at www.bnrg.com or order them online.  Favorite flavors are the cookies and cream and the peanut butter ones.  Chocolate and Vanilla are either too sweet or bland for me.
Lara bars
These are wonderful little snack bars that come in all kinds of flavors and it really doesn’t get more natural than this.  They combine dates with nuts and you get a bar!  Seriously.    My current favorite is the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor.  Ingredients?  Dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, salt.  That’s it! 
As you can see they’ve also got a few new flavors out.  They don’t do just fruit either.  They’ve got a Jocolat line, which are chocolate flavored ones and as I surf their site, they’ve come out with cookie flavors!  I’m going to have to try these: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Carrot Cake,  Chocolate Chip Brownie.  How can you go wrong?  It’s a good natural source of carbs and fat and fits easily into your purse or bag.  As I said before, you should base your meals around protein, but it’s all right to have a mostly carb/fat snack, too, as long as it’s slow digesting.  Larabars fit the bill – they’re healthy, give you lots of good vitamins and minerals and give you a serving of fruit, to boot!
Check them out at www.larabar.com
Sources of inspiration

I’ve got to give props to Clean Eating Magazine for helping me with snack ideas.  They’ve got great recipes every couple of months and each issue comes with a two week menu – each day have 2 snacks.  It’s super helpful, especially if you’re clueless and overwhelmed with where to start.

How to Optimize Posterior Chain Power: Glute Activation | StrongLifts.com

In Fitness by AngelaLeave a Comment

Today I went on a hike to Rainbow Falls, in Gatlinburg, TN.

Rainbow Falls

While hiking, my comrades and I got to talking about their knee injuries and I mentioned to them, the possible reason for their knees hurting after awhile is that their glutes area asleep.  After they got over the confusion of what I just said, they asked what I meant.  Only too happy to explain, I told them that we live in a sitting society.  The body is meant to move, not sit, and when you sit for so long, your hip flexors get shortened and tight, same with your quads, and then your hamstrings get stretched and your glutes do not fire properly.  Thus, your glutes are asleep and need to be activated so they can do their job properly.  If the glutes are not doing their job properly, your quads will take over.  This can present a problem because when you climb stairs, for example, your hamstrings and glutes should be doing a lot of the work to pull you up the stairs.  If they are asleep and your quads are pushing you up the stairs, this could lead to injury very easily.
For suggestions on how to fix this and some great videos, check out this link:
How to Optimize Posterior Chain Power: Glute Activation | StrongLifts.com.
This is one of those great things to practice after sitting on a bus/car travelling all day!  Or, for that matter, sitting in rehearsal or in front of a computer, typing.

Stretching ADEQUATELY before/during/after playing

In Fitness, Flute by AngelaLeave a Comment

What does it mean to stretch adequately?  And why should I bother?
Stretching is underrated and underdone and people, especially musicans, are paying the price for it.  The body was designed to move and it was not meant to hold static positions for long lengths of time, be that sitting in a car, typing, playing an instrument, etc.  If one is confined to a rather static position for a long length of time, the body will become stiff and tight in certain areas.  If, after that, you try to move suddenly, or for example, spend a long day at work in front of your computer (or several hours in a practice room) and decide then to go lift weights, if you do not stretch and warm up properly, you are literally begging for an injury.  You are asking muscles that are tight/weak/stretched to do things that they are not ready nor capable to do.
Let me give you an example.  For my bodyweight workout this past week I did not take the time to adequately stretch and warmup before hand and for the last two days, my hips have been paying for it.  They have been so incredibly tight that I was almost limping.  This led me to stretching ever opportunity I got yesterday, almost to no avail.  Today before my workout, I spent the better part of 20 minutes, if not more, stretching and warming up, making sure my body was ready to meet the demands I was about to put on it.
How did I know I was ready?  Well, let me tell you.  After sitting for a long time, the hip flexors get shortened, the hamstrings and lower back can get stretch and the glutes fall alseep and fail to fire.  What is the first thing I did when I got in the gym today?  Dynamically and statically stretched my lower body and did plenty of glute activation exercises.  It took awhile, but when I finally felt like my glutes were working (there was a burn starting to happen, I could feel them working) and my hips no longer felt like they were going to snap, but instead started to feel loose, and move more freely, I knew I was ready to go.
Let’s  apply this to woodwind  players and the upper body.  What can you do?  Make sure you warm up your upper body before you practice, during and after.
Next time you are about to practice, try this little warm up sequence and tell me how it went for you:
Arm circles 2 sets of 10
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/DL2kCt1kSZ4?fs=1&hl=en_US] Doorway chest stretch 2×30 sec.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/Gq2rYIobvns?fs=1&hl=en_US] Scapular Wall slides 2×10
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/4k2kqyzz3Ug?fs=1&hl=en_US] Do all three once before repeating.
What is happening?  Well, if you play an instrument, more than likely you will have your arms in front of you.  These stretches will warm up the chest, upper back and shoulder girdle allowing the muscles to move better and fire more accurately.  If you have extra time,  (and ideally, an exercise ball) do a couple sets of prone lower trap raises and/or YTLW’s.  These will really fire up your lower traps and upper back.
What about if you are going to be sitting?
One thing that you can do is to do the standing warrior lunge stretch.  Stand tall. Take a long step forward and descend into a lunge.  Stretch your pelvis back, you should feel a deep stretch in your hip on the trailing/semi-straight leg.  For added glute activation/hip stretching, squeeze your buttock on the trailing leg, let the arm on the trailing leg side drop towards your leg and raise you opposite arm high until you feel a longer stretch up into your abs on the trailing leg side.  Hold this for 30 seconds.  repeat on the other side.  Do twice on each side.
If you have some time before a rehearsal, you can do some glute bridges, but if you have no where to lie on the floor, an easy way to get your glutes firing (so your hips and quads are doing less work) is to take long strides as you are walking to rehearsal/concert/ the bus/around, etc. and squeeze your butt with each step.
Anything I can do while I’m playing or even walking around?
Yes!  If you recall the neutral position you are to take whenever you begin weight training (chest out, back arched, stick your butt out, shoulder blades back and down), you can modify this stance to be useful during the day.  Basically, if you will depress and retract your shoulder blades while you are playing/practicing/rehearsing and even just walking around throughout the day, you will accomplish several different things:

  1. Your chest will open up, stretch out and be less tight.
  2. You will have taller, easier posture with less effort.
  3. Your upper back will hurt less, and be less stretched and weak.
  4. You will automatically have more confidence as when you depress and retract your shoulder blades you have to stick out your chest, which is a subconsciously vulnerable area and to do so signifies confidence, whether real or imagined, eventually it will become real.

Try this for a week and tell me how it worked for you!

Cardio out – movement in and hotel workouts

In Fitness, Travel by AngelaLeave a Comment

One of the worst things about travelling is the constant sitting.  Sitting in a bus, sitting in a hotel, sitting in rehearsal, sitting in a concert, sit, sit, sit.  The human body was made to move and sitting is not per se, a natural position, not for long periods of time, anyway.  As I have been travelling this last week and a half, I have tried to get in as much movement as possible.  Yes, I know getting my heart rate up is a good thing, but when I get to a hotel, after a long day of sitting and look in the “fitness room” and all that is there is a stationary bike, elliptical machine and a treadmill….that really doesn’t look appealing to me.  Is it cardio, is it motion?  Sure, but it’s still staying in one spot, looking at one thing and after travelling all day, all I want to do is move!
So, I have definitely become a proponent of MOVEMENT and, shall we say, functional cardio.  I have been doing a LOT of walking, as much as I can, anyway.  One of the “perks” of travelling with a group is that you are reliant on the bus to get you places; you do not have your own car.  So what do you do if you want to go somewhere?  Well, you have to walk.  So, the other day I did a fantastic bodyweight workout in my room and instead of traditional “cardio” I went on a long walk to Smoothie King for my post workout shake.  Then I had to walk back, uphill.  Plus, it was raining, so I threw in a few sprints to get me to my destination sooner.  When I got back, I had to go to Wal-Mart, about a half-mile away, but since I didn’t have a car what did I do? Walk of course.  I blew my calorie burning goal out of the water that day, mostly by walking.  Yesterday morning I went for an hour long walk around town before we had to get on the bus to go to our next gig.  My body was definitely grateful for it and I felt wonderful the rest of the day.  Blew my caloric burn goal out of the water yesterday, too.
Today, I got to the hotel and was greeted with a fabulous gym, of which I was only too happy to avail myself.  Did I want to do cardio afterwards?  Heck no.  So what did I do?  After I took the 10 flights of stairs up to my room for my PWO meal, I walked around Knoxville.  Granted I didn’t walk long enough to meet my calorie goal, but I got my movement and activity in for the day.
Moral of the story?  Get in as much activity and as much motion as you can during the day when traveling.  See your situation as an opportunity and a blessing to move more, rather than a hindrance because you don’t have a car and things are farther away.  Look for opportunities to move!  Take the stairs.  Walk to the store.  Explore the town if you can.
As for my workouts, I did one of the great bodyweight workouts by Craig Ballyntine of Turbulence Training.  Since I had to buy his stuff and it’s copyrighted, I cannot reproduce it all for you here, but I can tell you most of what I did, and I’m still sore two days later.  All you need is about 5-10 feet of space in your room and a stationary chair.
Split Squats/Bulgarian Split Squats
1-legged squats (these are killer!)
Do those in your room and tell me if you aren’t out of breath!
Today my workout was a full body workout availing myself of the great gym.  We’re going to Gatlinburg tomorrow and I will not have a gym to use, but you can bet I’ll workout again in the room  and run the hills!
Today’s workout:
Narrow Leg Press 3×8
superset with Hack Squat 3×8
Lying Leg curl 2×15
leg extension 2×15
Seated calf raise 2×15
Shoulder Press 3×8
superset with straight arm pushdown 3×8
Cable woodchop 2×15
superset with close grip row 2×10
If you’ll notice, there’s a conspicuous lack of arm motions and single joint exercises.  This is because mulit-joint exercises (otherwise known as compoud exercises) include these muscles, so they do not need to be addressed.  For example, when I did a shoulder press, I also hit my tricpes, and when I did a close grip row, that also hit my biceps.  If I had wanted to make this a quicker workout, I could have left out the single joint leg exercises and I could have left out the abs/close grip row.   However, I noticed that during the concert last night, my uniform does not allow me to properly raise my left arm and my back/rhomboids/lats were hurting because of it, so I wanted to make sure I hit them in the gym today.
So, don’t let traveling prevent you from moving.  Look for excuses!

Music, Fitness and Travelling

In Fitness, Flute, Travel, Uncategorized by AngelaLeave a Comment

As you may know, I am a proud member of the 129th Army National Guard Band.  What this means is that I am in the Army, but it’s a part time job for me.  I “drill” with my unit one weekend every month and for two weeks in the summer.  Right now is that two-week time period, called Annual Training, or AT, for short.  Our AT this year is a tour of the state of Tennessee.  We’re playing concerts, doing parades, recruiting, etc. and having a good time of it.

Our schedule is such that we are on the road almost every single day for more than two weeks.  We get to a place, play the gig, stay at a hotel and leave the next day, save three cities where we are staying for more than one night.  This rigorous schedule poses its challenges and also its opportunities when it comes to fitness and how to take care of yourself to play your instrument to the best of your ability.  To meet the demands of this schedule, it takes more than good health, you have to know how to take care of yourself, and through the next few days, I hope to have a couple of blog posts about the different stretches, workout routines and exercises that can be done to not only counterbalance the effects of being confined to a hotel, but confined to the road/bus/car for long times.

A few things that have come up as I’ve been playing:
After riding in a bus for several hours, your whole body is going to be somewhat stiff.  Couple that with then having to go sit in a chair for a few hours and play a concert and you’ve got a possible injury coming your way.
A few stretches to be done when you get off the bus:
Dynamic: calf stretches, high-knees, leg swings
Static: Psoas stretch, Calf Stretch, Hamstring Stretch, Quad Stretch
Upper body stretches: SCM stretch, doorway stretch, lat stretch
Dynamic upper body: arm circles, neck circles
Stay tuned for more descriptions and exercises.
In the meantime, you can find our schedule on our Facebook page!
Friday: Friday Night Lights Concert, Dickson, TN 7:00 PM
Saturday: Harpeth Hills church of Christ concert 6:30 PM, Nashville TN
Sunday June 27: Dogwood Park – 7:00 PM concert in Cookeville, TN
Tuesday June 29: Concert Crossville First Baptist Church
Thursday July 1: Public Performances on Market St. Square, Knoxville
Friday and Saturday July 2-3: Various performances in Gatlinburg, TN
Sunday July 4: Midnight Parade in Gatlinburg!  Concert at Gatlinburg Aquarium 7:00 PM

Trip to Nicholls

In Fitness, Flute, Travel by AngelaLeave a Comment

Roberta & Guga Cavalcanti
See?  Foam rolling can be fun…
These students were such great sports.  We had a lot of fun learning and trying together.  As I stated in an earlier blog post, I got invited to Nicholls University to do a presentation on Workouts for Musicians.  We went through some basic anatomy and physiology and then we all did some dynamic integration and body mapping followed by some dynamic warmups, static stretching, lower body activation work and we went through some exercises that are helpful to musicians to make them stronger.
I had some brave students as you can see.  Foam rolling can feel good afterwards, but not only can it be awkward but it sure can be painful!  These students were definitely up for the challenge.
Roberta & Guga Cavalcanti
Roberta & Guga Cavalcanti
We also tried to learn how to squat and do a deep squat hold.  These kids are college age and it was remarkable how inflexible some of us are, even at a young age.  It just goes to show that you’re not to young or too old to exercise and learn how to stretch properly.
Roberta & Guga Cavalcanti
When you do these things on a regular basis, your body is stronger and when your body is strong, YOU are strong.  You can hold your instrument for a long time without getting tired, you can breathe more deeply, you have a better awareness of your body and certain muscles don’t get underused while other muscles get overused.
Musicians, please, don’t neglect your first instrument!
I’m here to help. 🙂

Audition Travel Lessons Learned

In Flute, Motivation and Success, Travel by AngelaLeave a Comment

As you know, when it comes to taking auditions, only take the ones you really want or that are close by because they can be expensive.  How expensive?  Well, let me tell you…
This past Wednesday I flew up to Boston for a second round audition with the Air Force Band of Liberty.  It was a challenge from the start.  I barely got on the last possible flight out of Atlanta, which was overbooked and barely made it.  Why was it a problem?  Well, my mother in law works for the Airline and was able to get me a standby ticket for considerably less money.  This has worked wonderfully for me in the past with no problem, but this time, apparently Boston is tough to get in and out of, so I have learned a lesson.
I made it to the hotel and had a really good audition.  Unfortunately, I did not win the job, but as always, the audition reinforced in me what I need to do to improve my auditioning and preparation skills.  Always good experience.  I was scheduled to fly out the next day: Friday AM.  Turns out that ALL of Fridays flights were overbooked.  So, I decided to stay until Saturday, at least I get an extra day to explore Boston right?
Original expenses:
Airport parking + gas
Airline ticket
Mass transit fare
Additional expenses incurred:
extra hotel night stay
additional meals
additional mass transit fare
Shuttle service to airport
So I have a great day exploring Boston: seeing Paul Revere’s House, exploring Little Italy (and eating gelato!), seeing the harbor, eating dinner at Legal Seafood, seeing all the historic sights of downtown Boston and Harvard, Quincy Market, etc.

It was a tiring day.  I prepared to go to bed, knowing I’d have to get up in about 4 hours to get to my 6:45 AM flight.  I call the airlines to make sure…
Bad news.
All flights for Saturday are now overbooked due to weather cancellations in Atlanta on Friday.
So, now, instead of flying out Friday, instead of flying out Saturday, I’m here another day, flying out Sunday…HOPEFULLY!  Thank goodness for a family friend who lives in the area and is sweet enough to drive out here (Lexington is kind of inaccessible) pick me up and let me stay at her house.  Things wouldn’t be a problem except that I have no way to get out of here: the bus doesn’t run on Saturdays here so I can’t get to the train station to even go back to Boston.
There is no guarantee I’ll catch a flight tomorrow and the extra sad news?  I had a concert to play with Sinfonia Gulf Coast tonight, that I had to cancel.  So not only am I spending extra money here that I had not intended to spend, now I’m not MAKING extra money.
There are worse places and times to be stranded but let this be a lesson to anyone wanting to take auditions:
1) take only the auditions you really want
2) OVER prepare for them
3) bring extra money, snacks and changes of clothes, just in case
Total tally?
Extra days parking at airport
2 extra nights at hotel
Extra meals
Extra fare for mass transport
+ original airfare, meals, transportation

Flute Events in Panama City

In Uncategorized by AngelaLeave a Comment

Great things have been happening in my life lately.  For the last two years I’ve been working part time at Vitamin Shoppe and I’m happy to say that since God has blessed me with a lot more musical opportunities this year, this coming week will be my last week there.  Besides personal training, music will finally be my only source of income!
Panama City flute Camp
Another goal that I have been striving for for the last three years is also coming to fruition next week: The Panama City Mini Flute Camp!  This will (hopefully) not be the last of these, as I hope to do at least one every fall and spring.  This first camp will be held Saturday morning at Arnold High School in PCB from 9AM – 12 PM and is open to all flutists in the area of any age.  For three hours we will talk about things that matter to YOU!  It’ll be like a giant extended private group lesson.  We’ll talk about tone quality, embochure, tonguing and articuation, breathing and breath control, nerves and how to cope with performance anxiety and we’ll even do a little dynamic integration – helping us all become more aware of ourselves.  As a teacher, I am continuously surprised at how few of my students have any clue about what they’re doing: they cannot separate their lips from their jaw or their fingers from their air, etc.  We’ll go over ways to be conscious of your whole self!  We’ll end with roughly an hour or so masterclass where anyone who wants to play something in front of the group and get pointers is welcome to do so; and we can all learn!
Cost is $5 a piece.  Come on, a 3 hour group lesson for $5?  I dare you to beat that anywhere!  This is a fantastic opportunity for you if you want lessons and can’t afford them.

Panama City Flute Studio
This is something I am really excited about starting.  After having a conversation with my college student, about how she feels isolated and so alone in PC with no other flutists to compete against or even listen to, it has occured to me that PC flutists live in bubbles!  Each school is kind of like their own bubble with the various orchestras/community bands in the areas being a separate bubble.  There really isn’t a lot of communication or fraternization between any of the flutists around town and I think that has got to change.
So, very soon, I will be starting the Panama City Flute Studio.  It will probably be an hour or so group lesson held at a central place and any flutist who is serious about their instrument is welcome.  Age does not matter here!   We’ll have a group lesson, we’ll play for and with each other and even have discussions about flute things that are important to us.   Flutists, realize that you are not alone in your school or band.  There are others in this area better than you and you are better than some others.  When we get to know each other and play in front of each other, a standard is set, friendly competition ensues and we all strive to be just a little bit better.  And it’s fun!  We’ll even do a bit of flute choir reading and maybe play around town.  You know what, there’s no telling where this thing might go: we might give recitals, give competitions, we could even hold our own flute day and invite flutists from all over the country to come visit!
Flutists of Panama City, this is YOUR town and YOUR instrument: let’s raise the expectations to a higher standard!  Again, if you want private lessons, but maybe can’t afford them, this group lesson would be a great opportunity for you, and I will offer anyone who joins a reduced rate.
So, if you’re serious about learning, if you love your instrument but don’t have an outlet, here are two great opportunities for you.  Contact me ASAP: I’d love to hear your ideas, what’s important to you, what you want/need and when and where you think the flute studio should be held.

Great convention!!!

In Uncategorized by AngelaLeave a Comment

At the end of January I was priveledged to be able to give a presentation/workshop at the Florida Flute Fair in Orlando, FL.  I had a great turnout and LOTS of interest in what I was doing.  As was stated to me, no one else is talking about what I’m doing and because of that, I will soon be traveling to St. Petersburg, FL to give a workshop/lecture to lots of musicians there about just that very thing.
If you are interested in having me come to your area and teach your musicians about workouts for musicians, please contact me and I will be in touch with you shortly.
I’m on a mission to help musicians everywhere live healthier, more productive lives so they can make better music!

Practice Room Warmups?

In Fitness, Flute, Uncategorized by AngelaLeave a Comment

As musicians (whether you be a flutist or not), we tend to be rather meticulous about our instruments and how we approach our practice time: warming up the smaller muscles of our embochures, warming up our fingers with scales, even warming up our ears with long tones or our minds with imagery and planning the session out.  But how much attention do we give to the rest of our bodies?
Very little, so I’m discovering.
Warming up your body is as important, if not MORE important than warming up our instruments, but it’s something we all to easily neglect.   When you practice, especially for long amounts of time, you are holding your body in a somewhat rigid, unnatural posture, that, unless corrected, can actually lead to various muscular imbalances.  For flutists, holding a flute up in front of you and turning your head to the side can create all kinds of problems, problems I have rarely seen addressed.  Your traps and rhomboids can get stretched and weak and your pecs are in a constant state of tension…what to do?
Let me propose some warmups to help you have a better practice session and a better more well-responding, healthier body.
Arm Circles

You probably did these as a kid in gym class and guess what?  They still work!  Stand up with your hands out to the side like a “T”.  Rotate your arms forward in little circles moving to big circles.  When you get into really big circles, you will feel a nice stretch in your chest.  Pay attention to that.  Stop and do reverse circles, being careful not to swing to hard.  A gentle stretch is good – a hard stretch is not.
Wall Slides
Stand up against a wall with your arms raised and hands at a 90 degree angle, almost like you’re surrendering to the police.  Retract and depress your shoulder blades (roll your shoulders back and down and bring your blades down) and then, leading the movement with your elbows, push against the wall and bring your arms down, still keeping your hands raised.
Do this 10-12 times.
Those are just a couple of exercises, but hopefully, they will help you be a more productive player with less pain.  Pay attention to how your shoulders feel, how your body feels and notice the areas that are moving.  Creating that muscle awareness will help you not to injure yourself as you practice.
And take breaks!  You are not a hero for playing for 4 hours without a break.