Posts Tagged ‘Singers’

Arts health practitioners in focus: Massage Therapy

Tuesday, 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.”

BAPAM Training Day: The Professional Voice User in Trouble

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Our November 2017 Training Day brings a multidisciplinary focus to bear on vocal health issues affecting professional voice users. Presented in collaboration with voice care experts at the forefront of the field, this event is ideal for medical professionals and students, voice coaches, professional voice users, teachers, healthcare practitioners, and all those engaged in wellbeing in the creative arts, who want to develop specialist knowledge and skills. BAPAM Training Days are also a great opportunity for discussion, sharing insights with peers, making new connections and growing our performing arts medicine network.

Book your place here

Our timetable for the day will be confirmed shortly. Presentations include:

Mr Nick Gibbins, Laryngologist
The Surgeon’s Perspective

Nick Gibbins will take us through the types of vocal injuries and disorders that face professional performers including musculoskeletal issues, inflammatory problems, and organic lesions of the vocal folds. The laryngologist’s role in the multidisciplinary voice clinic will be explored including diagnosis and surgical intervention.

Tori Burnay, Voice Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
The Therapist’s Perspective

Tori Burnay will show us the therapist’s side of endoscopic examination including the muscular behaviour of the larynx and vocal tract in healthy and disordered speech. Muscle tension issues, vocal hygiene, workload management and potential therapy plans will be discussed.

Dr Carol Chapman, Counselling Psychologist and Performance Coach

Dr Jane Oakland, Music Psychologist and Singer
Psychological Perspectives

Examining the difference in presentation, conceptualisation and treatment between professional voice users who have a medical diagnosis and those for whom no diagnosis has emerged and whose problems appear to have a purely psychogenic origin. Discussing the psychological and social/career impact of having voice problems in these circumstances and at different stages during a performing career. Using illustrations from client work, suggesting what clinicians should look out for. Illustrating techniques for rehabilitation and coping.

Prof. Dane Chalfin, Vocal Rehabilitation Coach
The Singing Perspective

Dane Chalfin will guide us through the Vocal Rehabilitation Coach’s role in the interpretation of the laryngopharyngeal gestures in healthy and disordered singing in various styles. Muscle tension issues in the singing voice and rehabilitative pedagogy will be discussed. This will also include a live scoping session where Mr Nick Gibbins will perform nasendoscopy on Professor Chalfin live in front of the audience. We will be inviting attendees to submit requests for singing gestures they would like to see in situ.

Ed Blake, Physiotherapist
The Physiotherapist’s Perspective

Ed Blake presents on physiotherapy treatment for professional voice users suffering voice related symptoms.

Solo Pop Singers: How do you feel about your wellbeing in the music industry?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

 

Professional singers invited to take part in new research project at the Royal College of Music

Are you a professional solo singer in popular music genres including pop, rock, dance, jazz, blues and folk?

Would you like to help develop our understanding of health and wellbeing experiences in the music industry, and inform future support networks?

Lucinda Heyman, a Performance Science researcher at the Royal College of Music, is looking for professional solo singers, signed to a record label or making a living from singing, to be interviewed for a new project. You don’t need to have experienced a health problem to take part. The research covers positive as well as challenging experiences. You may feel that your work in music has positive effects on your health, for instance.

If you are interested in taking part you can contact Lucinda directly by emailing lucinda.heyman@rcm.ac.uk

She will explain the project and provide you with a detailed participant information sheet.

Any information you provide will remain confidential. The project has Research Ethics Committee approval from Conservatoires UK.

2015 Annual Review

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

How do we help artists & creators?

Our 2015 Annual Review is now published. Read it here.

Like athletes, performing artists need to be as healthy as possible, yet are constantly at risk of injury and illness. In some ways performers are more vulnerable – risking muscle damage, hearing difficulties, voice loss, severe stress and anxiety. Yet unlike sportspeople, their health problems are largely unrecognised, so that if they get sick, they struggle to find health practitioners who really understand their needs.

BAPAM has been helping performers since 1984. We have in-depth understanding of their work-related health problems. We also appreciate the financial and other career pressures they are under. Our services are unique, essential and irreplaceable – they save careers and enable Britain to maintain its top class performing arts scene.

It is excellent to receive such an expert service, especially as I am a musician of limited financial ability. I have been strongly reassured and leave here very happy that I can keep playing

I have used your services before and always had a good experience. I was remembered by the staff and felt so welcomed back. I have only great things to say about BAPAM. It’s such a valuable service to professionals

The clinician was very warm and knowledgeable about how my condition relates to the wideranging demands of my work as a community musician. Lots of time and consideration given to ensure I understand the nature of my difficulties and the steps I should take to resolve them

Voice Clinics Forum 2015

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The British Voice Association‘s (BVA) forthcoming Voice Clinics Forum convenes on Friday, 23rd October at The Governor’s Hall, St Thomas’s Hospital, London.

Topics in planning include:

For those in training:
Preparing to run a voice clinic: current training trends in Laryngology for ENT surgeons
Preparing to be the Voice Clinic Speech and Language Therapist – what education and training do we need?
Developing a programme for singing teachers to work in the Voice Clinic

For current voice clinic staff:
Ensuring voice clinic survival in the modern NHS
The role of voice clinics in the NHS – a GP/commissioners view
Round table panel discussion
Voice analysis software reviewed: application in voice clinic and daily practice
Technology in the voice clinic: what is really useful?

Clinical  session: “One easy, one not so easy!”: a multidisciplinary case discussion panel

Please note: these topics may be subject to change

Adobe Acrobat - icon View provisional programme

Adobe Acrobat - icon Download application/booking form

NB: This course has been awarded 5 CPD points

BVA Rock and Pop Study Day

Friday, August 21st, 2015

The British Voice Association Rock and Pop Study Day takes place in London on Sunday 13th September. Training topics include alternative vocal onsets, technique through interpretation, the truth about nodules, ear protection and monitoring, rock and pop in a choral setting and using live performance technology. Participants will also be in for some fantastic performances and exclusive discounts from the exhibitors.

10:00 – 17:00

The George IV, Chiswick, London

For more details and to book your place take a look here: www.bvarockandpop.eventbrite.co.uk.

Registration will close on 06/09/15.

Health & Wellbeing Week 2015

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The Musicians’ Union are hosting the third annual Health & Wellbeing Week in association with BAPAM and Help Musicians UK from Monday 10 August 2015. The workshops will be covering a range of key topics including performance anxiety, hearing loss and prevention, vocal wellbeing, how to survive as a touring musician, yoga techniques for relaxation and much more on how to look after yourself as a professional musician.

Held in London, Manchester and Birmingham, these sessions are free for MU members or £10 payable on the day for non-members. Spaces are limited so please ensure to book in advance.

For further information regarding the sessions, including how to book, please visit the Musicians’ Union Eventbrite page, which will be constantly updated.

June 2015 Newsletter

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Our June 2015  Newsletter  is now available to read or download in pdf format:

British Association for Performing Arts Medicine Newsletter June 2015

Contents:

I Can’t Go On! Managing Performance Anxiety
Directory of Practitioners Update
Training Day Summary
Piano Professional Magazine
Research Projects
Associate Medical Director Appointed
We’re Recruiting: Job Opportunity at BAPAM
Dr Kit Wynn Parry
Help Support Us

Research: Binaural Beats and Traditional Warm-up in Singers

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Comparison of the effect of binaural beats and traditional warm-up upon the acoustic measures in singers of the eastern and western traditions.

University College London

Performing Arts Medicine

Singing Research

As part of the innovative MSc Performing Arts Medicine programme at University College London, Soniya Sharangpani is examining the effect of binaural beats upon the quality of voicing. She is looking for female classical singers from both eastern and western traditions to participate in the project.

Participants will be asked to sing a sustained note and a phrase, tuning their voice to a decided pitch, before and after listening to binaural beats for about 10-15 minutes. The jitter and shimmer will be recorded using EGG machine (electroglottography).

After a week participants will be called again. This time, instead of listening to the binaural beats, the singers will perform warm ups for 10-15 minutes.

If you are interested in taking part please contact Soniya directly by email: soniya.sharangpani@gmail.com for details and information sheet. All reasonable costs will be covered. The research will take place in London.

This study is approved by the UCL Research Ethics Committee. Participation is voluntary and you can leave the research at any time.

Study Days from the British Voice Association

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Forthcoming symposia from the British Voice Association, include My Tongue Goes Where? at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, a chance to hear Dr Ron Morris, (Speech and Language Therapist and Professional Countertenor), explore the anatomy and physiology of the articulators, how tongue tension and articulatory disorders can impact on speech and singing and practical techniques to deal with these difficulties. Saturday, 29th March 2014.

Recovering Voices: The Transition from ‘injured’ to ‘well’, on July 6th, addresses what is meant by vocal injury, and how this affects professional voice users physically, professionally and emotionally.

Further information and booking

And don’t forget World Voice Day, celebrated annually on 16th April. The idea began in Brazil and then spread to the USA. The idea is to celebrate healthy voices and highlight the importance of voice at work and in society. Find out more about World Voice Day.