Posts Tagged ‘Wellness’

Event Report: Maximising Performance: Artistry, Implementation and Empowerment

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Physiotherapist and BAPAM registered practitioner, Sarah Upjohn, attended the 2013 PAMA symposium with support from BAPAM through our Research and Education Bursary Fund. Here’s Sarah’s report on the event:

Maximising Performance: Artistry, Implementation and Empowerment

Performing Arts Medicine Annual Symposium

July 20th – 23rd   2013

 Snowmass, near Aspen,

Colorado. USA

I am the physiotherapist at The Purcell School for Young Musicians, and have been on the BAPAM Directory of practitioners since October 2008.

I am also a Doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, where I am a member of their first ever cohort of Education Doctorate students.  The Education Doctorate is a five year part-time course designed for mature professionals who are seeking to address, explore, or more deeply understand a situation at their place of work.  I am now 40% of the way through and am seeking to address the incidence of preventable playing related injuries seen in elite young musicians at The Purcell School, through a health promotion and injury prevention programme, including more  ‘tailored’ physical activity.

Every year the Performing Arts Medicine Association holds an Annual Symposium in Snowmass, near Aspen, in Colorado. This year the conference information showed that a significant emphasis was being placed on topics such as

  • Maximising performance
  • Performance physiology
  • Performance Wellness Programmes
  • Athletes and the Arts

I very much wanted to attend, as it seemed so closely aligned to the topic of my EdD, but was utterly unable to afford the airfare, registration fee and accommodation costs. At the end of April I approached BAPAM and asked if they would be able to offer financial help to enable me to attend this high profile and highly relevant conference.  I am extremely grateful to BAPAM and its decision to fund my airfare from London to Aspen.

The conference was wonderful and exceeded my expectations. I arrived late on the evening of 18th July, and had allowed Friday 19th to recover from the journey.  The conference began at 8.30 on Saturday morning and was programed non-stop, with sessions and workshops for three and a half days.  I soon met two friendly faces in the shape of BAPAM colleagues Jennie Morton and Mike Shipley.


For two years I have been reading widely and deeply on the topic of playing related injuries in instrumental musicians as my review of the relevant literature has informed and shaped my research question. One of the most immediately wonderful aspects of the conference was that so many active researchers in Performing Arts Medicine were there, either presenting, or  contributing as delegates. I was able to listen to, meet, and network with so many people whose work I have been reading, that I had an enormous sense of ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. Three of my particular heroes, William Dawson, Kris Chesky and Ralph Manchester were there: as authors of the ‘Health Promotion in Schools of Music Project’, the work of these men has been absolutely instrumental in the development of my role as physiotherapist at The Purcell School. It was really fabulous to put faces (and voices) to names.

The topics covered were diverse, from sessions about noise induced hearing loss to a beautiful demonstration of physiological changes that occur to heart rate during performance.   But there was a definite move towards performance wellness, and towards using established science from the field of athletics training and exercise physiology within performing arts medicine. As a physiotherapist these two aspects particularly resonate with my thinking.

On Tuesday 23rd July, the conference finished by 11.30 a.m and I wasn’t leaving for the airport until 2.30pm. So I bought a sandwich and a chair lift ticket and rode to the very top of the Elk Camp chair lift. Hugely appreciating the views, Tuesdays lunch was eaten at an altitude of 11,325 feet  (about 11,286 feet higher than lunch in Cambridge on Wednesday).

I came away brimming with ideas that I hope to implement at Purcell, such as

  • Increasing cardio-respiratory fitness levels as a means of reducing levels of performance anxiety.
  • Introducing imagery and visualisation techniques to help reduce performance anxiety and also to introduce ‘off instrument’ practise techniques.
  • Increasing aerobic  fitness capacity to reduce incidence of injury

Most importantly meeting like-minded, committed, caring professionals was inspiring, energising and affirming.  I am looking forward to the start of the 3rd year of the EdD and am ready to continue finding creative ways to address the issue of preventable injuries occurring in young musicians.

Huge thanks to BAPAM for enabling me to attend this world class event. I hope to have work of my own to present there within in the next 2 or 3 years.

Musicians’ Union Wellbeing Week

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The Musicians’ Union, with input from BAPAM and the Musicians Benevolent Fund, hold a Wellbeing Week for their members in August.

Wellbeing sessions take place in London and Birmingham, and for those unable to attend corporeally, there is also the option to join in via Skype transmission.

Sessions will cover healthy practice, posture, stress, life-coaching, yoga, and more.

This is a fantastic opportunity to benefit from the experience and wisdom of a range of professionals who work with musicians enabling them to have healthier and happier lifestyles.


Click here for all the information.


Event Report – When The Artist’s Body Says No: Stress and the Mind-Body Unity in Health and Disease

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Jennie Morton reports from the recent PAMA event held in Toronto, 16th/17th February 2013.

Jennie’s attendance at the event was supported by BAPAM through our Research and Education Bursury Fund.

WHEN THE ARTIST’S BODY SAYS NO: Stress and the Mind-Body Unity in Health and Disease


Jennie Morton BSc (Hons) Osteopathy
UCL Honorary Lecturer, MSc Performing Arts Medicine

I recently attended the PAMA regional meeting at the beautiful Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada, hosted by PAMA President, Dr John Chong. This was a two-day event packed with a variety of speakers presenting on a wide range of health-related topics from the world of dance and music. The first presenter was Gary Galbraith from Case Western Reserve University who took us through his “Dancer/ Musician Wellness Project”, a wonderfully comprehensive software package providing health screening for both student and professional performers. This software enables teachers and health professionals to make targeted pre-training or pre-season recommendations for individual performers and to monitor training/ performing exposure and track injury rates. They are offering the package free to training establishments and dance companies worldwide.

Another highlight was Laurel Trainor, PhD a Professor of Psychology, whose research has shown that infants as young as 4 months old can tell the difference between dissonance and consonance and will already show a preference for consonance at this age – fascinating! She has also shown that the brains of music students mature differently to those not studying music suggesting that music has a profound effect on brain wiring. This has far-reaching implications for the study of neurological development.

The keynote speech was delivered by the wonderful Dr Gabor Maté, author of the book “When The Body Says No” for which the conference was named. He spoke about the mento-emotional aspects of disease making particular reference to the high-stress environments encountered by performers and the role this can play in their health. He read a particularly moving excerpt from his book concerning the life of the great cellist Jacqueline Du Pré and her battle and subsequent death aged 28 from the effects of multiple sclerosis. While still a teenager, she had apparently confided to her sister that she knew that being a professional cellist would kill her because of the pressures of high expectations of others – a poignant premonition and one to be borne in mind by those involved in the care and training of young prodigies.

We were also very fortunate to hear from some industry icons who shared their experiences of injury in an extremely candid and moving panel discussion. They included the acclaimed contemporary dancer Peggy Baker, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Stephen Sitarski, renowned violinist and Concert Master of the Hamilton Philharmonic. Their frank and highly emotional accounts of their journeys with injury and depression tugged at the heart-strings of the entire audience and really served to highlight the often-hidden agonies behind the mask of performance.

I was also fortunate enough to have been invited to present a workshop on the musician/ instrument interface and was joined by a 16 year-old violin student, who is something of a child prodigy, to act as my model. We were treated to her extraordinarily talented playing whilst I made recommendations for postural adjustments – a fun, interactive hour! On the final day, I was also a member of a panel discussion on wellness strategies for student dancers and musicians, the panel being comprised of three health professionals and three teachers. We discussed the need for a multi-disciplinary approach in supporting the health of students and ensuring open lines of communication between health practitioners and teachers.

This two-day event as packed with excellent ideas and strategies to ensure the continuing good work in performing arts medicine is reaching the people who need it and served as an excellent networking forum for performers, teachers and health practitioners alike. I’m delighted to have been invited back to speak at this event again next year and look forward to keeping up this very important dialogue.

Toronto Meeting of PAMA

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

February 16/17, 2013: Jennie Morton, osteopath and lecturer on the MSc in Performing Arts Medicine at UCL, will give a presentation titled Embodying the Instrument – Healthy Practice for Musicians at the forthcoming Toronto meeting of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, When the Artist’s Body Says No – Stress and the Mind-Body Unity in Health and Disease.

Check this pdf for detailed information: PAMA Toronto 2013 Brochure.

Watch this space for Jennie’s report for BAPAM from the event, which also covers healthy dance practice, hearing protection, artists’ mind and body development, and the lessons we can learn from sports medicine.