Have your say on the government’s occupational health consultation

September 13th, 2019

You may not have heard about the current government consultation: “Health is everyone’s business: proposal to reduce ill-health related job losses”.  The consultation seeks views on different ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce people falling out of work because of ill health.

While much of the document is focused on employers, there is a significant section in chapter 3 which includes proposals to improve access to high quality, cost-effective occupational health services for self-employed people and suggests that a direct subsidy or voucher scheme might be a solution.

Given that about 85% of the performing arts sector is freelance and 75% of artists will experience an occupational health problem, some form of subsidy could transform  the health of performers.

We’d encourage performers, performance professionals, industry organisations and anyone else interested in the health of the performing arts workforce to have a look at this consultation and respond to government to ensure that the needs of our sector are well represented. You only need to complete the bits of the survey that are relevant to you. You have until October 7th.

BAPAM welcomes PR Guru Jonathan Morrish as new trustee

September 12th, 2019

BAPAM is very lucky to be adding to its list of trustees, a real stalwart in the world of public relations. 

Jonathan Morrish started in the music industry as a freelance music writer in the seventies, contributing to a number of different publications. Then in 1975 he joined Sony Music Entertainment, formerly known as CBS Records, as a house writer. Three years later he went on to manage their Press Office and worked closely with many of the company’s artists including amongst many, ABBA, the Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Jamiroquai, Billy Joel, Meatloaf, Sade, Shakin’ Stevens, Wham! (with whom he went to China in 1985) and George Michael (including the famous court case in 1994. In 1995 he was appointed VP Comms and Corporate at PR Sony Music Europe.

In more recent times he held the post of Director of PR and Corporate Communications at music licensing charity, PPL for 8 years. He currently consults for them and a number of other companies on PR issues.

Besides the above he is also a trustee of The BRIT School in Croydon, and trustee of the BRIT Trust, the major charity of the British record industry. So on his recent visit to BAPAM, we jumped at the opportunity to talk to him about his illustrious career and his visions for our charity.

How do you feel about becoming a trustee at BAPAM? Why did you want to come on board?

I’ve been in the music business all my life. I’m completely not a musician but have always loved music and it’s always done a lot to me. I think music probably comes before language and if there is a universal language then it has to be music. It potentially binds people together and that is very powerful. I started life writing about music, one thing led to another and I joined a major record company in the 70s and in that time I worked with lots of different artists. I have seen some of the issues they had to go through, which in a funny way is as tough at the top of the tree as it is at the bottom. I have worked with people right at the top of the tree.

I think it’s very difficult to be a working musician in today’s world. Most people fail even if they have been signed to a record company as there’s only ten places in the top 10. So this is a tough place. I don’t think musicians are recognised, in fact it’s the same with all the creatives, because without them there is no industry. You can be as damaged by issues around you when you’re famous as you can be when you’re struggling to make your way. So for me working with BAPAM is really a chance to put something back. I’m also a trustee at the BRIT Trust which I love and am motivated for the same reasons, which is to be able to get kids in to the creative industries. So when CEO of PPL Peter Leatham and chairman of BAPAM approached me to join the charity it was a natural decision. The issues surrounding musicians is massive and this is a chance to harness a lot of what I think this organisation is capable of achieving.

It’s fair to say you have devoted your life to music and musicians, can you explain your passion for this industry?

I started as a press officer in the mid-seventies and really enjoyed being around musicians. I admire people who take it up as a profession. I like musicians, to me music is a kind of form of magic and I think the way it interacts with the brain is fascinating and that intrigues me. Music is a hot medium, it engages you. I look at the BRIT school and I see the way it brings people together and teaches you to be a team player.

…..During my time away at boarding school music was my outlet. This was in a world long before mobile phones and all of that. I would listen to the radio at prep school after lights out knowing that if I got caught I would get beaten. So music has always played a huge part in my life. It was a really different time back then. It’s hard for this generation to appreciate just how different it was. There were very few radio stations and now there are over 300. I can put on Spotify and just think about what I want to listen to. So that’s where we have to be careful and not cheapen music. What we have done in the process of having music on tap like water, is not to appreciate enough the people that make it and what they go through to make it. If you bought an album in 1964 the equivalent today would be over forty pounds, so music was expensive. I’m not necessarily saying that was right – it’s just the way the market was – but as the price of music has fallen so has the perceived value of musicians and that’s why what BAPAM is doing is so important. It’s recognising their health matters, health is everything. A healthy musician is going to perform better than an unhealthy musician.

Are there any particular projects you are excited about?

I think potentially looking at doing some awards, because what I think is really important is to raise the profile of BAPAM and then position it within the wider music business in a more recognised way than it is at the moment. These are areas where I think I can help.


BAPAM nominated for Industry Minds Awards

August 30th, 2019

BAPAM has been nominated for its work in supporting the mental and physical health of those working in the performing arts industry.

The nomination is part of the inaugural Industry Minds Awards which takes place this September. Industry Minds is a mental health podcast which has been running since last year and aims to break stigma around mental health in the creative industry.

BAPAM has been nominated for the Healthcare and commercial enterprise award, as an organisation which has undertaken pioneering action for health in the creative arts.

The event takes place on September 22 at the Piano Works West End in London.

Many of our clinicians, board members and office staff will be attending. It’s a ticketed-event and proceeds will go towards funding of a free counselling service which is offered to anyone in the arts via free Skype and telephone sessions.

Healthy Performance Training Series

August 27th, 2019

BAPAM is proud to announce the start of a series of training sessions for performers to keep them healthy and able to sustain a performing arts career.

The sessions kick off in Belfast at the Oh Yeah Music Centre this September, with more planned in cities across the UK including Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, London and Cardiff.

The introductory sessions will be led by experts and aims to empower those within the performing arts industry to look after their health.

The session focuses on evidence-based practical skills and draws from research findings, performance experience, and proven clinical pathways.

For more information on each session and who’ll be leading them and how to book click on this link Healthy performance training series

BAPAM flying the flag stateside at PAMA 2019

July 30th, 2019

This report gives a small flavour of some of the highlights of a packed conference programme with content covering all forms of the arts and many of the conditions that performing artists suffer from. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear from experts across the world, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, UK and USA who are researching and implementing best practice in performing arts health.

Apart from the chock-full official conference programme, there were several opportunities to network and lunch-breaks provided opportunities to attend special interest meetings such as the Research Committee, and a chance to discuss the needs of PAM research with a broad range of interested and enthusiastic colleagues. A research workshop also provided food for thought on improving the quality of PAM research to ensure optimum ‘performing artist-centric’ care.  Performers experience several health problems as a result of their work, and it is our task to develop solutions that work for, and are acceptable to performers.

Dr. Victor Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine, outlined the work being undertaken to prevent clinician burnout, and made the comparison with performing artists. Both professions aim to improve the lives of the public and both suffer health problems as a result. Dr. Dzau recommended bringing together stakeholders to collaborate on solutions to support the workforce.

One fascinating area of development in the USA is new research coming out of the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, particularly in the application of complementary therapies to chronic pain. We heard now the opioid epidemic in the USA has resulted in opiods being the leading cause of death in under 50s. Often caused by over-prescription of painkillers, US policy makers and practitioners are seeking alternatives to manage pain. What this means is that significant randomised control trials are now being conducted which will give much better evidence on the use of complementary medicine as part of standard of care. This will be something to watch over the next few years.

Still on the theme of improving health, there were several presentations on techniques to prevent overuse injuries and in one of them renowned drummer Joe Corsello spoke about how his playing had been affected after performing for years and demonstrated techniques to avoid injury. We also heard several examples of how multidisciplinary teams of clinicians, therapists and educators had worked with patients to create holistic treatments to enable them to overcome injuries, including dystonias, enabling them to return to performing. It was humbling to hear from several elite performers whose own injuries had caused them to develop an academic career investigating and evidencing solutions to enable other performers to avoid similar problems in the future.

Dr Dan Bernadot, a nutritionist working with athletes outlined his approach to supporting performers to understand the importance of diet and hydration so that they have the energy to do what they need to do and how to manage this in the context of performance schedules.

In a series of moving presentations, we heard about the culture of bullying and harassment in some music conservatoires that had come out after the #metoo campaign and how one performing arts education provider was changing attitudes by bringing in policies to reduce the possibility of this happening by introducing regular training to all teaching staff; having glass doors on all teaching rooms; acting on all rumours  about suspect behavior and forbidding any student/teacher fraternization beyond the professional relationship.

A mental health panel, led by Dr Susan Raeburn, considered the mental health issues that particularly affected popular musicians and how these were exacerbated by life on tour. We heard about the personal experiences of artist Darren Hayes and the therapist Dr. Nancy Sobel who had worked with a number of top bands and soloists in the USA.

This in no way does justice to the many insightful presentations we heard over the four days and we’d like to thank Mike Shipley and Phillip Rudge for their financial support in enabling us to attend. We were excited to learn that the PAMA Committee has decided that the 40th conference in 2022 will hopefully take place in London and we look forward to supporting the development of an equally memorable event in the UK.

Written by Claire Cordeaux, Diane Widdison, Dr. Finola Ryan

Day dedicated to Performing Arts Medicine

July 30th, 2019

Attended by doctors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and a number of students
and professional performers, PAM day at UCL offered time for networking and discussions on the health and rehabilitation of performing artists. The day consisted of talks by experts in performance anxiety, hypermobility in dance, musical theatre performer rehabilitation, circus artists injuries and musicians’ clinical assessment. Delegates also got a chance to hear research studies from  MSc graduates of the course and have a workshop on musicians’ warm-up by our current MSc students.

BAPAM is closely involved with the MSc and our clinicians and registered practitioners are integral to the delivery of UCL’s Performing Arts Medicine MSc. Programme lead of the MSc and organiser of the PAM day Dr Hara Trouli is also an assessing clinician at BAPAM.

BAPAM also presented an update on current activities and plans for the future and several BAPAM practitioners also attended as part of their annual training scheme. PAM DAY offers 5 Learning hours on a UCL Certificate of Participation.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Services for Performing Artists: Guidance for the Performing Arts Sector

July 30th, 2019

Consultation Paper

BAPAM is pleased to have brought together a working group of clinicians and performing arts organisations interested in addressing challenges to the mental health and wellbeing of those who work in the sector. The group has produced guidance to support the development and delivery of services specifically for performing arts professionals and students. The guidance is designed to be used by:

• organisations commissioning or wishing to commission mental health services for performing artists

• organisations and practitioners providing mental health and wellbeing services for performing artists

• education providers offering mental health and wellbeing support to students

• individuals and agencies wishing to support best practice for performing artists

• performers and other performing arts professionals wishing to understand the standard of practice they can expect from services.

This guidance has been developed by BAPAM’s Psychosocial Working Group. We aim to make a real difference to the quality of services available. The purpose of the group is to provide a forum in which approaches to prevention, care and support can be discussed, and clinical leadership can be provided for developing and maintaining an evidence-based service designed to support performing arts professionals and students with vocation-related mental health issues. The group has drawn on the clinical evidence base, including National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which contain reviews of published evidence for healthcare interventions from clinical and cost-effectiveness perspectives, to produce this guidance for the performing arts sector. There are seven key areas of focus:

1. Preventing Mental Health Problems
2. Early Clinical Assessment
3. Brief Intervention
4. Peer Support
5. Ensure Links with the NHS
6. Multi-disciplinary Team Approach
7. Managing a Crisis

We are publishing this paper for consultation and welcome all comments which will be considered prior to the final launch.

Read or download the paper here:

Mental Health and Wellbeing Services for Performing Artists: Guidance for the Performing Arts Sector – A Consultation Paper

Comments can be posted via the online survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NKRFVGD

The consultation is open until 15 September 2019.

Healthy Touring Checklist and Rider

July 22nd, 2019

Artists, crew, and management teams can use a Healthy Touring Checklist as part of planning for a tour and prepare a Health Rider to help people involved with the tour support artist and crew wellbeing.

Our Healthy Touring Checklist has been developed as a result of a review of the evidence, consultation with experts, and our evaluation of a series of Healthy Touring Workshops with artists awarded funding for touring by Help Musicians UK’s Do it Differently Fund.

We are working with Help Musicians UK to finalise this guidance for publication. We have made a working document available which you can download here: Healthy Touring Checklist and Rider

If you’d like to give us any feedback on this, suggestions for additional items for the checklist, or resources that can help, please email claire.cordeaux@bapam.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks to our original Healthy Touring Panel, our BAPAM trainers – Lucy Heyman, Dr Helen Brice and Dr Pippa Wheble – and Help Musicians UK.

Touring is a fundamental part of performance professions and, as much as it is exhilarating, it can also be intense and tiring. During this period health problems which are unmanaged can be exacerbated, and new health problems can arise. Evidence from research tells us that around 75% of performers have health problems. Like many athletes who use their bodies intensively, physical problems and pain are common and, as freelancers, performing arts professionals often have no choice other than to attempt to maintain their careers, continuing to work while suffering from and managing physical symptoms. These problems are exacerbated by, and contribute to, psychosocial issues. The touring environment (with pressures relating to travel, working late, lack of sleep and a poor diet) and the high demands artists and crew make on themselves can all lead, potentially, to deteriorating mental health. Schedules often mean that healthcare is not available when most needed.

All of these factors can impact on the success of performances, the longer-term sustainability of a career and the individuals themselves.

Being able to discuss our touring practices with someone was very valuable, it’s not often that you’re able to sit down and think about how you could improve these practices. It can feel very isolating at times so it was really good and constructive

We were able to reflect and see that the things which we found stressful and difficult about touring were actually an amalgamation of small things, most of which we could do something practical about improving.

Effective ways to warm up my vocals & easily incorporate the warm-ups to my usual pre-performance routine

Helpful strategies for coping with performance stress, work-life balance and general wellbeing

BAPAM resources used in PhD research on pain and discomfort in string players

July 16th, 2019

The International Journal of Music Education has published an article based on a PhD research which featured a BAPAM produced health resource.

The research looked at playing-related discomfort and pain among two groups of music students in a higher education establishment in Australia. The data was collected from 2007 till 2011 and students were given a copy of the BAPAM resource “Fit to Play” (which is currently being updated).

We spoke to researcher, Dr Megan Waters, who explained the reason behind the study was to gain a better understanding of the perceived impact of personal circumstances, past and present learning environments, and musical culture on the development of playing-related pain and injury among tertiary level string students.

The cohort included 29 participants and was made up of violinists, cellists and viola players. Results showed students consistently reported a high incidence of playing-related discomfort and pain which was contributed to factors related to studying music at the graduate level, orchestral rehearsals, practice, technique as well as non-playing-related activities.

The research suggested the need for educational institutions to adopt a range of preventative strategies to approach issues of playing-related pain and injury, which were recognised to be caused by multiple factors.

Musicians wanted for UCL masters research

July 2nd, 2019

Professional and amateur violinists and viola players are being sought for a study as part of a master’s thesis research project for the MSc Performing Arts Medicine programme at University College London.

The study by Sarah Lesjak will investigate how changes to the chin rest on violins and violas can affect a player’s performance.

Participants will need to be available to do a short interview in person, fill out a questionnaire and play a small piece of music before and after adjusting the chin rest.

Those wanting to take part will have to be at least 18 years old and play their instrument for a minimum of 3 hours per week.

If you or somebody you know is interested:

Contact sarah.lesjak.18@ucl.ac.uk and state – Project Interest – in the subject.