Event Report: Performers in their Environment Training Day

Our November 2013 event brought together actors and musicians with professionals working in performing arts healthcare, education and support and welfare, for a stimulating investigation into the work, lifestyle and health realities of the industry.

Professor of Performance Science, Aaron Williamon, discussed musicians’ hearing and the tricky issue of noise regulations for workers for whom noise is their product.

Philip Turner, Senior Stage Manager of the English National Opera, shared valuable expertise and insights into the considerations of caring for performers, crew, and audience, and in supervising the work environment, both at the ENO in London, and on touring productions. Osteopath, Jennie Morton, presented on workplace hazards, drawing from her work as a performer (dance/theatre/singing).

Former professional oboist turned pioneering Performance Coach, Karen O’Connor, was joined by a singer and a double bassist to discuss novel applications of sport psychology for managing performance anxiety and developing mental toughness.

We also heard from professional performers about the ups and downs of their careers. Jungle Drummer, Chris Polglase, talked us through his career, from leaving music school in frustration at course requirements that he learn endless indie rock parts, to turning a hobby into a sustained professional career playing 180bpm drum & bass beats, alongside turntablists and musicians from a diverse spectrum of styles. Chris talked about the pressures of extensive touring, playing 5am gigs at clubs and festivals, studio sessions, and gradually learning self confidence and how to care for yourself.

Bringing a fascinating day to a close, David Sulkin, Chief Executive of the Musicians Benevolent Fund, interviewed two actors at very different stages of their careers – covering the stresses (physical, emotional and financial) and rewards of the profession.

We’d like to thank all the speakers, performers and attendees.  All agreed that first hand discussion with performing arts professionals proved especially valuable in providing perspective for those who seek to help care for their health and welfare. Thanks also to the Musicians’ Union for so generously providing the venue.

More information about our Training Days can be found here: BAPAM Training Days.

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