The Accent Method Course

June 28th, 2018

A 3-day course conducted by two of the leading names in vocal health will be taking place in Birmingham.

The course which is organised by the British Voice Association will be fairly practical with some time devoted to explaining the scientific rationale behind the technique. It is used widely in rehabilitation for voice disorders, but also used for training healthy voices and developing the dynamic range of performers.

The first two days of the course will take place on 12th and 13th July 2018 with a five month break followed by a final day in January 2019.

The technique is well researched and has a good evidence base and is designed to co-ordinate respiration, phonation, articulation and resonance to produce clear and well modulated speech.

Specialist speech and language therapist Sara Harris and singing teacher and voice coach Dinah Harris have been working together for many years, most notably at the multidisciplinary voice clinic in Lewisham Hospital.

Vocal Health Advice Workshops

June 4th, 2018

Many people come to BAPAM for help with voice problems. In most cases the best care is available through the NHS at a Specialist Voice Clinic. Our new Vocal Health Advice Workshops are designed to provide accessible support to arts professionals and students who are waiting for a clinical assessment in the Voice Clinic.

Look after your voice

Release vocal tract tension

Release tension in the breathing mechanism

Find out what to expect in the Specialist Voice Clinic

These 90 minute small group vocal health advice sessions are run by a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach with experience of working with performers in Specialist Voice Clinics. Participants will receive advice on how to look after their voice, gentle stretching to release vocal tract tension, exercises to release tension in the breathing mechanism, and information on what to expect in their Specialist Voice Clinic appointment. They are preparatory and educational, not diagnostic, and are not a replacement for an appointment in a Specialist Voice Clinic.

Call 020 7404 8444 for information and to book your place for just £20.

We can also advise you about asking your GP for an NHS Voice Clinic referral, as well as private options. We will need to see proof that you are on the waiting list at a Voice Clinic before we can book you into a Vocal Health Advice Workshop at BAPAM. We cannot offer this session to people who are already receiving medical care for a voice problem but we can advise you about appropriate sources of further care if required.

BAPAM returns to Scotland!

May 17th, 2018

We’re very pleased to announce that BAPAM is reintroducing its free medical assessment clinics to help performing artists based in Scotland. The clinic, which will take place at Scottish Opera’s Production Studios on Friday 8th June, will be held by Dr. Philippa Wheble BSc Hons (Pharmacology), MBChB, DRCOG, who is an NHS GP and a graduate of the MSc in Performing Arts Medicine at UCL. Pippa is herself a keen performing artist. She plays violin and viola and trained as a dancer.

For further details or to book your place, please contact BAPAM on 020 7404 8444.

Setting and Delivering Standards in Vocal Health

May 8th, 2018

The singing industry is completely unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a singing teacher, vocal coach or even vocal rehabilitation coach regardless of training, experience or lack of clinical supervision. At BAPAM, we have many calls from actors and singers with voice problems and we have been aware of an inconsistent approach to care.

Working with a group of vocal health specialists established by our Medical Committee, comprising Ear Nose and Throat specialist doctors, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and vocal rehabilitation coaches from across the country, we have set standards for our vocal health advice, and competencies for Vocal Rehabilitation Coaches. We are also funding sessions for specialist clinics to have a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach for a pilot period so we can evaluate the impact.

We hope this will be a major step forward improving the quality of care for vocalists who present with problems in healthcare. It will enable them to get a rapid assessment by the right professionals to accelerate the right treatment. It will also provide a set of standards for singing practitioners in the UK who wish to work with a Voice Clinic and provides an improved level of protection and quality assurance for organisations supporting arts professionals accessing specialist health care.

The literature on dysphonia demonstrates that singers presenting with voice disorders are most likely to have Muscle Tension Imbalance (MTI). General ENT Surgeons tend to look for organic pathology or structural abnormality and do not always diagnose MTI.  Diagnosis of MTI in speech is usually made by a Speech and Language Therapist with experience and training in assessing the muscular function of the whole larynx and vocal tract via nasendoscopy.  MTI in singing is being assessed in a few leading clinics by a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach with experience and training in the assessment of the larynx and vocal tract in a wide range of singing styles, also diagnosed via nasendoscopy.  Only specialist Voice Clinics have access to equipment and personnel qualified to deal with this type of problem in professional singers.  Treatment of MTI in singers is carried out by Speech and Language Therapists and Vocal Rehabilitation Coaches, jointly or in succession.

The BAPAM Vocal Health Working Group recommends multidisciplinary clinics with a surgeon and specialist speech therapist using high definition cameras with stroboscopic or high speed videos to analyse the vocal folds as standard of care. BAPAM has adopted this standard for the advice we give to patients.

BAPAM’s advice for GPs is to refer to a specialist Voice Clinic when patients with the following characteristics present with a voice problem:

Patient population

  1. Elite Performers (professional singers, actors, broadcasters, etc)
  2. Studying Performers (FE, Undergraduate and Postgraduate singers and actors)
  3. Quality of Life Performers (singers whose singing is their primary means of socialising like older local choir members)

Presenting Voice Problems

  1. Loss of range, power, flexibility
  2. Pain, fatigue, hoarseness
  3. Gaps in range, delayed onset of phonation
  4. Increased recovery or warm-up time
  5. Chronic throat-clearing, sensation of lump in throat (globus)

Referrals

A referral to a specialist Voice Clinics should be made for:

  1. Any vocal symptom lasting more than 2-3 weeks
  2. Any vocal symptom lasting more than 2 weeks following resolution of a bacterial/viral infection

Advantages of a Specialist Voice Clinic

  1. Stroboscopy to view vocal fold vibration is only available in these clinics
  2. EGG and other specialist equipment for accurate measurements
  3. Expertise in muscular function and dysfunction of the vocal tract
  4. More accurate diagnosis, improving management and decreasing patient recovery time (P.S. Phillips 2005)

The large clinic team enables a multidisciplinary assessment because performance voice problems are likely to be multifactorial and more likely to be muscular with musculoskeletal and/or psychogenic causes. Staffing includes:

  1. Voice Specialist Laryngologist*
  2. Voice Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
  3. Vocal Rehabilitation Coach (Singing Voice Specialist)
  4. Performance Specialist Osteopath/Physiotherapist (in some clinics)

*Some Specialist Clinics are SLT-led with Laryngologist review

Accurate diagnosis and specialist treatments speed up recovery times and save money in the long run.

(see British Voice Association leaflet on Multidisciplinary Voice Clinics)

Patient Outcomes

  1. If organic lesions are present they may be listed for surgery immediately or referred for Speech Therapy then reviewed
  2. Functional disorders will be referred for Speech and Language Therapy and/or Vocal Rehabilitation
  3. Musculoskeletal disorder will be referred for Osteopathy/Physiotherapy
  4. Psychogenic disorders will be referred to Speech and Language Therapy and onwards to access Psychology/Talking therapies as appropriate (for Psychotherapy and/or Speech Therapy)
  5. Most patients will be referred to more than one of the above

Vocal Advice

BAPAM offers 90 minute small group vocal health advice workshops to performers who have concerns about their vocal health once they have received a referral to a Specialist Voice Clinic and been put on the waiting list.

The sessions will be run by a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach with experience working with performers in Specialist Voice Clinics. Participants will receive general advice on how to look after their voice, gentle stretching to release vocal tract tension, exercises to release tension in the breathing mechanism, and information on what to expect in their Specialist Voice Clinic appointment.

These sessions are educational, not diagnostic, and are not a replacement for an appointment in a Specialist Voice Clinic.

To find our more or book a place at a BAPAM vocal health advice workshop please call us on 020 7404 8444.

The Vocal Rehabilitation Coach

In late 2017, BAPAM’s Vocal Health Working Group approved competencies for Vocal Rehabilitation Coaches to set a standard of practice in this important area. Vocal Rehabilitation Coaches on the BAPAM Directory of Practitioners must meet the following competency criteria:

  1. Hold or have previously held a contract with an NHS specialist Voice Clinic including a job description. Verified by contract document. Where an informal but significant relationship with a Voice Clinic exists or has existed in the absence of a contract, a letter from the Voice Clinic may be accepted.
  2. Have spent at least 10 years practicing as a singing teacher/vocal coach within an educational institution or in private practice. Verified by contract document or evidence of proven track record.
  3. Work under supervision from both voice specialist laryngologist and speech therapist (as appropriate) as part of a clinic team with all clients.
  4. Undertake at least 10 hours of Voice Clinic observation per year. Verified by letter from Voice Clinic.
  5. Have completed relevant anatomy/physiology training formally or in-house. Verified by attendance certificate or letter from Voice Clinic.
  6. Have completed endoscopic interpretation of singing physiology training. Verified by attendance certificate or letter from Voice Clinic.
  7. Have both basic counselling and palpation training, formal or in-house. Verified by attendance certificate or letter from Voice Clinic.
  8. Adhere to data protection standards when keeping client records.
  9. Have current appropriate liability and indemnity insurance policies. Verified by documents.
  10. Provide at least two references, one from a specialist Voice Clinic, one from a reputable professional performance-related company (ex: university or production company).
  11. Adhere to all BAPAM professional practice standards at all times.

Applicants will be included on the directory for a term of three years before needing to revalidate their application.

Information about applying to join the Directory can be found here.

We look forward to reviewing and reporting on our pilot project to support specialist Voice Clinics by funding a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach.

Vocal rehabilitation is a truly multidisciplinary endeavour, with crucial contributions from laryngologists and speech therapists.  A central member of this team is the Vocal Rehabilitation Coach who is uniquely placed between the medical clinicians and the performers to carry the scientific aspects of vocal treatment into the performance practice.  It is critical that these coaches are well schooled in vocal anatomy, physiology, pathology and rehabilitation; this schooling should be assessed with a series of measurable competencies to ensure that they are providing the best possible care. Mr. Declan Costello – Consultant Laryngologist

Following treatment for any vocal problem, like any injury one might sustain during physical exercise, a patient must rehabilitate appropriately with the aim of getting back to their pre-morbid state; to allow them to sing and speak again. In the same way you must learn to walk before you can run, one must set up the larynx correctly before trying to push its limits. Speech therapy achieves this but translating this laryngeal work into the singing voice requires a vocal rehabilitation expert. The expert vocal rehabilitation practitioner will help the performer take their correct setup into their performing voice before returning to their genre specific vocal coach. It can be seen that this is an essential part of the recovery process and having trained, competent and expert help is a comfort to patients.To this end, having the appropriate knowledge and having been assessed as reaching a standard level of expertise means that you know your patient will be in good hands.  Mr Nicholas Gibbins - Consultant Laryngologist

BAPAM Vocal Health Working Group

Mr. Nicholas Gibbins ENT

Mr. Declan Costello ENT

Ms. Tori Burnay SLT

Dr. Ron Morris SLT

Ms. Linda Hutchison VRC

Mr. Dane Chalfin VRC

Mr. Ed Blake Phys.

Shoulder pain – free advice for musicians

May 2nd, 2018

Instrumental musicians often experience symptoms of pain, weakness, fatigue or tension around the shoulder area and there is no mystery to their origin. At this forthcoming free advice session, which is the first in a new series, performance therapist Nikki Rawlings and performing arts orthopaedic clinician Dr Hara Trouli, both of whom are BAPAM registered clinicians, will try and explain how these symptoms are developed, maintained with playing and what can be done to relieve them and eventually control or abolish them in the long term. The event is organised by PhysioEd Medical’s musicians clinic and is free of charge. You can register here info.belsize[at]physioedmedical.co.uk

The Music Commission: Opportunities and Barriers to Progressing in Music

May 2nd, 2018

The Music Commission, supported by ABRSM, has launched its first call for public evidence, with a survey containing a series of specific questions around progress in the development of a musical life. Taking part enables all voices to be heard, so if you are involved in music education – as a music leader, teacher, learner, or consumer – The Music Commission would like to hear from you!

Have you found abundant opportunities to develop your musical practice or have there been barriers to participation in musical life? What are your positive and negative experiences of learning and work environments, your peers in the arts community, teachers, employers, media, access to venues and rehearsal space,  housing, earning a living or supporting yourself through university? Perhaps you have you encountered health problems that have been a barrier to progress – there are significant physical and psychological demands placed on music students and professionals, which can be eased or exacerbated by social factors.

Please take the survey here.

The Music Commission is also asking organisations within the music sector to run focus groups, an initiative you can find out about here: Let’s Talk Music. The questions are modeled on the online survey.  How the discussions take place and in what context however, are entirely up to the organisation hosting them. The aim of the group is to discuss questions and then to put together a collaborative statement which draws on the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the group.  This can be submitted in writing, or using recordings, video content or images.

 

Grand Order of Water Rats pledges support for BAPAM

April 25th, 2018

We are pleased to announce that the Grand Order of Water Rats has become a major supporter of BAPAM with annual funding to help us grow our performing arts specialist health service.

The GoWR join our partner organisations, Help Musicians UK, The MU, Equity, PPL, and the PRS Members Benevolent Fund, in recognising and supporting the need to develop accessible, specialist and effective medical support for performing arts professionals and students overcoming career-related health problems.

Councillor Mike Martin said,  “The splendid work and dedication of BAPAM most definitely ticks the boxes of our basic remit… to assist fellow performers who are in need. We are delighted to support such a worthy organisation.”

Arts health practitioners in focus: Massage Therapy

March 27th, 2018

Arts professionals and students are unlikely spend much time thinking about their health until something goes wrong. Yet they work in a tough industry and often push themselves to the limit. Problems can accumulate over days and years spent practising and performing. Taking care over physical and mental health is essential to sustainable performance practice and a successful career.

Sometimes things go wrong. A health problem or injury starts to affect your performance and you need help to beat it.

If you are a student or professional in the performing arts, a call to BAPAM’s Helpline can provide advice about where to get help for work-related health problems. You can arrange a free assessment at BAPAM with a doctor or clinician who will understand the demands of your career. You should always talk to your NHS GP as well – often excellent services are accessible by GP referral.

What if you are looking for independent expertise from a physical or psychological therapist? It is easy to be confused with the number of different therapies available. How do you go about finding a practitioner with the right experience and expertise?

BAPAM’s Directory of Practitioners lists information about high quality and accessible performing arts healthcare provided by skilled professionals working in a variety of modalities. In this series of posts, we’ll look at how these different kinds of practitioners can help you stay fit, overcome problems, and give your best performance. In this post, we look at a sometimes overlooked section of our Directory, Massage Therapy.

Massage Therapists work with the soft tissues – muscles, tendons & ligaments to apply pressure, manipulate and stretch them. Often these clinicians are termed Sports Massage, Holistic Massage or Sports and Remedial Massage practitioners.

You should check Massage Therapists are properly registered with the regulatory body, the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council, which means they are highly qualified. ITEC level 3 certificates are a good entry point into massage but for detailed knowledge of anatomy & physiology and more advanced methods of working, it is important that the therapist is qualified to diploma level or above.

We asked four BAPAM Registered Practitioners for their opinions on how arts specialist Massage Therapists can help you stay fit and give your best performance.

Rebekah Gilbert:

Rebekah Gilbert trained as a singer at the Royal Academy of Music and has sung as a concert soloist, recorded for EMI, BBC Radio, Classic FM and at Abbey Road Studios. She trained at the London School of Sports Massage and ITEC. She has a doctorate in coaching and is an Associate of Canterbury Christ Church University, working with Professor Stephen Clift on worldwide publications relating to singing and wellbeing.

“A good Massage Therapist will do a lot more than just ‘pummel’ you! First they will take a history of the issues you are consulting them on, your artistic practice and the time you put into it, lifestyle, exercise, the environments in which you work, and your medical history. If they discover anything that may need referral to another medical professional they will know when not to treat you.

Secondly, they will assess your posture as you stand and sit, the way a musician plays their instrument, and look at your walking gait. Is anything out of alignment? What are your posture habits and why? Might you need orthotics to improve how you stand and walk or just more supportive shoes?

Thirdly, they understand the difference between palpating well toned muscles and tense ones. Massage Therapists are good detectives, examining how you may have formed adhesions (knots), and can recommend changes necessary to reduce them in the future. The muscular skeletal system has an integral deep & superficial layer of facia running through it, which connects to every part of the body down to cellular level. Because of this, a Massage Therapist will know that a pain in one location may be triggered by problems in another and, within their toolkit of techniques, which will be most beneficial to apply.

Fourthly, they will have a long list of stretching exercises to give you as ‘homework’. However well a Massage Therapist can work in one hour, the time until your next appointment needs your input to make a difference. They may suggest other local practitioners such as Pilates, Feldenkrais, Yoga or Physical Training instructors to help you improve core strength and posture awareness. As a singer, I also know how beneficial optimal breathing techniques are in performance.”

Felicity Vincent:

Felicity Vincent is a professional cellist and a Pilates Instructor and Massage Therapist specialising in exercise for cellists. Felicity is an experienced active performing cellist and teacher with a deep understanding of how a player’s body might accumulate problems and how these might be solved. She has gone on to study Fascial Release with Anatomy Trains. Please check the BAPAM Directory for contact details. 

“Every string player knows their body isn’t just made up of levers (bones) and pulleys (muscles) but a controlled flow of circular and rotational movement. This is made possible by your fascia, the soft tissue of the body which is now known to be a strong, bouncy, stretchy, highly intelligent and trainable cell matrix which is everywhere, joining muscles to bones, allowing muscles to glide over each other, and through and over organs. But the fascial system is the site of countless numbers and types of nerve endings. These can respond to overuse and misuse which may be caused by imbalanced body use or holding onto emotions. Some degree of hypermobility can be an advantage in playing but is a double edged sword because stretchy tissue is particularly vulnerable to injury when overworked. On the massage couch your therapist will coax adhesions to dissolve and encourage held patterns to let go.

I see regular exercise as the principal key to health and wellbeing for every string player. I enjoy Pilates because it can be challenging and, particularly using the equipment, is a sophisticated way to balance the body and strengthen it. There are many schools of cello playing; the most important thing is that playing shouldn’t be destructive.”

Zoltan Zavody

As a musician (and martial artist) himself, Zoltan Zavody understands the range of injuries, impediments to joyful playing, and pain that can result from muscular imbalances.

“Anyone who trains their body intensively is more prone to soft tissue injuries – musicians sit in the same position for hours, make countless repetitive motions at speed, and then lug their instrument or box of scores to their next session. They are perfectionists who put themselves under intense scrutiny and thus stress. In the course of their careers, many musicians are likely to experience an injury requiring time off from performing.

The conditions sustained through the playing of music vary. Some seem relatively innocent, for example tightness and soreness in the left shoulder of a violin player. Others are more insidious, like the burning pain in the wrist of a guitarist. Still others are structural, like a lower back torsion in a pianist. Massage Therapy can generally help with all of these. And they can be interconnected.

Interestingly, through years of practise, it is not only the muscles that are habituated to playing. The connective tissue, the fascia that surround the muscles, also adapt. Research shows that this connective tissue morphs, slides, and grips according to habitual movements. So a musician may end up with managing to relax their ‘playing muscles’, but unless it is released, the tissue enveloping these muscles continues to pull their body and limbs into a specific posture, like a skewed bodysuit. The person is relaxed, yet they still feel a tightness, a pull, a misalignment. This is where a Massage Therapist can help with a range of myofascial techniques; softening, stretching, and pulling the connective tissues, the bodysuit, into comfortable alignment.

Myofascial work is not all about injury and problems! All of us inevitably have muscles and tissues that are a little stuck, whether from old injuries or emotional holding or underuse, and we don’t even notice. Take a singer for example, who has no complaints but wishes to improve the smoothness of their sound. By working fascially through the diaphragm and along the ribs, a Massage Therapist can help release these areas, leading to greater lung capacity and breath control, and an easier, more joyful singing experience. We have essentially freed up the bellows – and who wouldn’t want that?

If musicians were sportspeople, they would have ‘pitch-side’ Massage Therapists and coaches to help them fulfil their potential and make life a little bit easier.”

James Wellington

James Wellington is a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and Sports Massage Therapist who works extensively with circus performers and other artists. He Lectures nationally and internationally in the fields of physiotherapy, injury prevention & performance enhancement and conducts research in evidence based practice.

“Using sports massage within clinical practice is hugely beneficial, as evidenced by the hundreds of satisfied performers that receive and rave about it. However, there are few well controlled studies into its clinical efficacy.

The speculated effects are biomechanical (improved joint range of motion, reduced stiffness and tissue adherence), physiological (reduced stress hormones, improved blood flow and parasympathetic activity), neurological (less pain and muscle tension), and psychological (reduced anxiety and improved relaxation).

Let’s be honest. It does feel therapeutic getting a sports massage (depending on the pressure being applied of course). It’s my conviction, however, that its benefits rely most heavily on therapist experience and their choice of technique.

If you’re lucky enough to find a sports massage therapist that has a broad set of massage skills, the ability to clinically reason and be able to justify every technique they use – you’re way more likely to see positive results. Personally, I find it hugely beneficial in improving joint range, reducing muscle tension, decreasing pain and decreasing injury-potential factors.

My top tips for performing artists thinking about getting a Sports Massage:

1. Think about the reason(s) you want to book a Sports Massage (post-training soreness / poor flexibility / repetitive strain injury / accumulated muscle tension / a pampering treat?) and communicate this to the therapist (this will assist in selecting appropriate depth of pressure and duration of treatment).

2. Tell the therapist if you specifically intend for the Sports Massage to improve your performance and/or recovery as this may also determine the type of techniques they use.

3. Timing of the massage is important. If in doubt, ask the therapist before booking what is the most appropriate.”

Freeing the Dancers Voice, March 2018

March 1st, 2018

Are you a dancer increasingly called upon to sing during performance? A singer increasingly called upon to dance? In London on Sunday 18th March the British Voice Association is running a multidisciplinary workshop, Freeing the Dancer’s Voice, in how to successfully face the challenges of combining talents in the same performance. It boasts a panel of esteemed therapists, tutors and other specialists, including specialist performance physiotherapist, Ed Blake, and osteopath and UCL Performing Arts Medicine MSc graduate, Tommi Sliiden.

Sunday 18th March 10:30am-5pm

Arts Educational School, Chiswick, London W4 1LY

For further details and to book your place contact administrator[at]britishvoiceassociation.org.uk or visit www.britishvoiceassociation.org.uk

BAPAM Director Appointed

December 7th, 2017

We are delighted to welcome our new Director, Claire Cordeaux

Having started her career as a youth and community worker over 30 years ago, Claire Cordeaux has worked in the private and voluntary sectors, social care and the NHS, covering early years and children’s services, workforce development, health strategy, research and innovation at international, regional and local levels. In addition to a language degree, Claire holds a Masters in Research and Postgraduate Diplomas in Public Sector Management and Youth and Community work. Prior to her current role, Claire was Healthcare Director of SIMUL8 Corporation, working globally to improve healthcare using computer modelling and simulation. Claire is an active musician in a Celtic folk fusion band, and has supported a number of arts initiatives and festivals from youth music projects to running a boat stage to connect performers in coastal areas.  Now Director of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, Claire counts herself as very lucky to have a role which combines her two passions of health improvement and performing arts.