The Maturing Flutist

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


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
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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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