Archive for the ‘Products and Playing Aids’ Category

Event Report – State of Play 2013

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Event organiser, Ian MacDonald, reports on the State of Play – A study day for performers, healthcare practitioners, music teachers, manufacturers and modifiers of musical instruments,  23rd March 2013. 

This mini-conference was inspired by all the wonderful inventions, additions and props created by passionate musicians, teachers and practitioners to assist their performing. Though for some, the process of amending and/or adjusting ‘the musical interface’ (the instrument) is second nature – better facilitating them to do what they love – it strikes me that it is still generally considered a black art.

Where adapting the traditional instrument dimensions in a bespoke manner really comes into its own, is in helping youngsters play instruments without injury and in helping musicians recover from injury and accident. There is also amazing work being done with disabled children and adults at places like www.joyofsound.net, creating guitars that have special vibrating panels for deaf people, cellos that are fixed and angled to make wheelchair approach possible, two-way zithers that have double docking space for two wheelchair users to sit at it etc.

Playing aids, props, straps, rests etc are of course of interest to clinicians and practitioners working with performers but often either practitioners don’t know specific items exist, or have seen products on the web but are not sure how they work in practice or indeed if they actually work safely as empirical evidence supporting the marketing claims is difficult to find.

State of Play delegates were a mixture of professional performers, conservatoire teachers, students, lecturers, researchers, healthcare professionals, musicians and a dancer. A number had suffered some form of nerve compression problem in the past so had a vested interest in the presenting subject. Across the board, feedback about the day was positive with particular pleasure from all in seeing a right-handed trumpet being taken apart by Dave Woodhead then reassembled for a left-handed player with cable ties in about 5 minutes; perfectly playable with no need for any new bits to be made. Dave explained to us that there is no limit to adjustments you can make to brass instruments. Materials can be changed for look, weight or to avoid allergic reaction. Crooks (U-shaped bits of the tubing) and the direction of tubing can be shaped and amended to suit hand size, arm length, neck length or to assist getting back to playing again post-trauma….in fact there is now a small plastic trombone on the market that is light and easier to control even if you are a small person of 6 or 7. And it sounds okay too!

Marcus Reynolds presented his invention, Stratos, demonstrating it with a nifty trombone solo. He has worked on the Stratos for many years, since a serious accident left him injured. The device is used to facilitate better lip, jaw and head posture for trombonist (and for all other brass instrumentalists) as well as to provide structural and stabilising support. It was great news to hear that he is now getting commissions from all over the country to reward him for the dedicated years, time, money and sheer genius of creation.

The afternoon gave us the duet of Nicole Wilson and Helena Wood, violinists with ENO Orchestra. All the delegates agreed that these two musicians could go on the road with a fantastic presentation covering their experience in the working environment, ergonomics, musicianship, technical expertise, knowledge of the great variety of available equipment (e.g. chin and neck rests, seating) and their extremely funny way of communicating all these ideas.

Guitar tutor, Paul Sogaard rounded off the day, expertly reviewing the different posture issues faced by the three main designs of guitar, acoustic, electric and bass. As a long time member of the BAPAM Directory of Performing Arts Medicine Practitioners, he focused on many of the ergonomic problems tackled by musicians, demonstrating the various adjustments to the guitar interface and discussing the eternal questions of what additional tools and equipment (if any) to use… Again, research into the long term health benefits of using foot stool, neck straps or ergoplay support is sparse.

Student Research Projects

The day also included representatives from the first year of the MSc in Performing Arts Medicine with presentations from Efthalia Palaiokastriti, Physiotherapist and guitarist (Investigating functional scoliosis in guitarists using different guitar support tools), Isabel Artigues Cano, Physiotherapist and flautist (Evaluating hypermobility of finger joints in flautists) and Dr Hara Trouli’s (Performance measures in pianists with clinical sympomatology in the upper limbs: a cross-sectional study using EMG, digital pianos recordings and video postural analysis).

The State of Play 2013 – Musical Instrument Day

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Saturday 23rd March

10:00-17:00
(Registration from 09:30)
Saturday 23rd March

The Old Refectory, Wilkins Building, Main Quadrangle, University College London WC1E 6BT

A study day for performers, healthcare practitioners, music teachers, manufacturers and modifiers of musical instruments

Enhancing performance and facilitating healthier practice

Bespoke instrument modifications and manufacturing technology

Investigating tools for musicians’ rehabilitation from injury

Configuring the musical interface for healthy performance

Musical instrument ergonomics 

Sessions focusing on brass, strings and guitar

Full Day £75 Half Day £40

BAPAM Practitioner £65

Students £50

To reserve your place please email admin@bapam.org.uk and we’ll send you a booking form. 

More information: State of Play Instrument Day Programme

Photo: MFHiatt

Gig Grips Drumstick Grips

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

“The most dangerous musical instrument is the drums,” says Dr Jaume Rosset i Llobet, Director of the Institute of Physiology and Medicine of Art-Terrassa, Barcelona (and co-author of the excellent, The Musician’s Body, A Maintenance Manual for Peak Performance).

For the last couple of years the Institute has been testing the effectiveness of Gig Grips Drumstick Grips, which were developed to enable drummers to play without over-gripping their sticks. “We have used Gig Grips for those patients who need to reduce the grip force used to play, such as those with traumatic hand injuries or over-use symptoms. We are very pleased with the results and will continue using Gig Grips with our patients.”

Over-gripping can also be caused by the tendency to grip harder as sticks start to slip whilst playing. This happens mostly during gigs where sweaty conditions and the pressure of performance combine. Over time, tension combined with the impact of hitting drums can lead to career-limiting injuries. The idea behind Gig Grips is to help by enabling drummers to play with a more relaxed and natural grip, reducing muscle tension, vibrations and impact shock.

They are produced by Think9 Ltd, a company focused on innovative percussion product development. You can learn more about Gig Grips at the website: www.giggrips.com.

Note: We haven’t tested Gig Grips here at BAPAM and can’t provide information on their effectiveness (though they’ve had lots of good feedback from professional drummers). We’d love to hear from any drummers out there who’ve tried them – what do you think?