BAPAM Enhancing Performance Workshop, University of Leeds

Katherine Lambeth, BAPAM Student Advocate at the University of Leeds Music School, reports on the Enhancing Performance Workshop which she organised at the Music School on 4th November 2012. Sessions were led by Professor Howard Bird (Rheumatologist and BAPAM Clinician), Virginia Whiteley (Physiotherapist) and Alison Loram (Alexander Technique Teacher).

Event Summary

The workshop was comprised of four sessions; I have provided a short summary about each session below along with number of attendees. In addition to these sessions I made the students aware of the Musicians Benevolent Fund Student Health Scheme and provided flyers about both this and BAPAM.

Introduction to Soft Tissue Massage: presented by Virginia Whiteley with 18 attendees

This session involved students pairing up and being taught how to find pressure points and knots in common areas of discomfort for musicians.  We were also taught how to massage these points once found and what to feel for in order to identify problem zones.

Introduction to Pilates: presented by Virginia Whiteley with 20 attendees

Each student was provided with various pieces of equipment and some of the basics of Pilates were introduced, including an explanation of how it can help musicians to prevent injury.  We were taught the basic standing positions and what to feel for, followed by a few exercises to help specific areas of the body.

Alexander Technique Presentation: presented by Alison Loram with 16 attendees

Alison presented a talk on the Alexander Technique that explained the origins of and theory behind the discipline.  She also discussed her current research into Musicians’ Health problems, particularly in violinists and violists.

RSI Presentation: presented by Howard Bird with 9 attendees

In this presentation Howard discussed what RSI involves, its most common forms and how it may be caused.

Feedback Form ‘Results’

The feedback forms asked students to comment on five areas of interest:

–  Overall impression of the day with general comments

–  Why they attended

–  Improvements on the sessions/organisation of the day

–  Anything new they’d like to see in the future

–  Would they attend another day

Responses to the first and last areas were unanimous with every student answering that they had greatly enjoyed the workshop day and that they would attend another.  The more practical ‘hands-on’ sessions generated a lot of positive responses with a quarter of respondents stating that it was specifically for this that they would attend again.  Over half of the students answered that they attended the workshop as they already had health problems that they want to deal with.  Just under half had a general interest in the activities, with some people attending for specific sessions, hence the changing numbers between sessions.  It was commented on that the variety of topics covered was appealing.

The students were very forthcoming with ideas for future workshops.  The most common responses were that they wanted more activity-based sessions, and fewer run as lectures.  Over 80% of students specified that they now wanted to have an active Alexander Technique session to get an idea of how the discipline works physically.  Multiple attendees commented that they would like to have sessions focussed on either specific parts of the body or specific instruments/instrument groups.  Several also wrote that they would like to learn about good practice and attend a one to one clinic.

In terms of logistical arrangements the day ran relatively smoothly.  Were the event to happen again, which it hopefully will, I would advise the following:

–  Ensure room bookings are made well in advance

–  Find out in advance if the main entrance to the department will be open or not

–  Provide Guest Speakers with maps of the University so they can find Music

–  Check that the projector/ any equipment required works before the day itself

Action on Feedback

In response to the feedback provided after the Workshop Day I have set up, or made enquiries about, several sessions for the new semester.  We have scheduled in the next Health Clinic already, where students can take their instrument to be seen one to one by the practitioner.  I have begun discussions with Alison Loram about running an active Alexander Technique session and have also written to Andrew Roberts (woodwind) and Ian MacDonald (BAPAM Vocal Health Advisor and Voice Coach) about running instrument specific workshops with students.  Dr Jonathan White (BAPAM Clinician) has agreed to present on healthy exam practice before the final performance exams of the year begin and I am working on getting in touch with a specialist in Performance Anxiety.  Although this was not written in the feedback from this day, I know that it affects a great number of students and will be beneficial to them as much as the aforementioned sessions will be.

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