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Archive for the ‘Musician’s Health’ Category

These torso stretches are ideal to do while practicing because you don’t have to take off your guitar. For best results, your feet should be shoulder width apart and you should be balanced firmly on your pelvis with knees slightly bent. Always remember these 4 things:

Relax in a comfortable position.
Stretch slowly in a NO PAIN range of motion.
Stretch as needed or at least every 1 – 1.5 hours.
Remember to stretch both sides!

Torso Stretch 1

This first stretch can be started using the last stretch from our hand stretch series.

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This time, with fingers interlaced, raise your hands slowly in front of your body until they are directly above your head. Stretch upwards and hold 10-15 seconds.

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Then, in the same position being sure to keep hands directly over head, bend slowly to one side and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then bend slowly to the other side, keeping your spine straight and hold for equal amount of time.

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Torso Twist

Place your hands in a comfortable position resting on your guitar. If you’re playing an electric, you can place your hands at your hips or in prayer position.

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Twist your torso slowly to one side. Allow your head to move into the twist as well. Once again, don’t force it. As you twist, look as far to that side as you can just by moving your eyes. This makes the twist more energizing. Hold the twist for 10 to 15 seconds, breathing deeply and fully into the lower abdomen and lower back. When you’re finished, repeat the twist in the other direction.

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Neck Rolls

Begin with shoulder blades back and down. Keeping your shoulders in this position, lower your chin gently to your chest and hold here for a few seconds.

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Now bring your left ear to your left shoulder, dropping your right shoulder for maximum stretch and hold.

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Gently raise your chin towards the ceiling, being careful not to let the head fall back without control.

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Now bring right ear to right shoulder wile dropping left shoulder and hold.

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Finally come back to chin to chest. Remember to breathe slowly and repeat 3 – 5 times.

Torso Stretch 2

Begin with fingers interlaced behind your back as in picture below

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Lift arms to stretch upper arms and back. Hold as long as comfortable.

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Bending over slightly, raise arms even higher to give your lower back a nice stretch. Again, hold as long as comfortable

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We hope these stretches will help you keep your body happy during your practice sessions. Treat it as a magnificent and irreplaceable instrument that deserves your TLC. And don’t forget to hydrate!

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Whether you play a stringed instrument for a living and spend long hours practicing or whether you work in front of a computer all day and play on weekends or for your own pleasure, it’s important to remember that your hands and bodies are precious instruments as well and should be given the same TLC. Before you start to play, and perhaps every 30 minutes or so, give your hands a break by doing some of the following warm up exercises. Be sure to repeat each exercise with both hands. And take the opportunity to do some deep conscious breathing as well. Begin by simply loosening your wrists and shaking your hands to get the blood flowing. Open your hand wide, making space between each finger very slowly, then hold it for 10 seconds. photo Close your hand into a gentle fist and hold that for 10 seconds. photo-1 Do that several times, and as often as you think of it throughout the day. It’s a convenient stretch that can be done anywhere, any time. Now, holding your hand out in front of you with elbow locked, very gently and slowly bend each finger back and hold for a few seconds. Remember your thumb as well. photo-2 After stretching all the fingers individually, then hold all four fingers back together for 10 seconds. This loosens stiff fingers, hands and wrists and, completed daily for a few months, hands will become more flexible. photo-3 Next, still keeping the elbow locked, grasp hand and slowly bend wrist down until a stretch is felt. Hold for 10 seconds. photo-4 Now, turning the hand over and continuing to keep elbow straight, grasp hand and slowly flex wrist until stretch is felt and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat all of the exercises above on your other hand. photo-5 If you need to do a quick stretch between songs, interlace your fingers, exhale, and push your hands out to shoulder level turning your palms away from you. This quickly stretches the wrist and finger muscles and increases circulation to the area. photo-6 Here’s hoping you will incorporate these simple exercises into your practice or at your desk. Your hands will thank you for it! Stay tuned for torso exercises to keep you loose and limber during practice or at the office.

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From “Lou Reed on Tai Chi” by Gene Ching for KUNG FU MAGAZINE

Lou Reed is a true rock veteran. No one deserves more respect than veterans, especially today. A progenitor of the alternative music genre, Reed is a living rock and roll legend whose unparalleled career has already spanned over four decades. Few can survive a single decade in the cutthroat music industry with as much integrity and authenticity. Fewer still risk pop chart suicide by consistently redefining their art. Instead of replaying his hits, Reed boldly ventures into new territory.

Music and the martial arts share a common bond. Unlike painting or sculpture, music and the martial arts aren’t static. They are dynamic expressions of the moment, best experienced live. There’s nothing like being in the presence of a master, musician or martial artist, when they unleash their honed licks and hardcore chops.

Lately, more musicians are discovering the martial arts as a tool to improve their musical skills as well as a means to some easy exposure. RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Johnny Colt (formerly of the Black Crowes) have all been showcased in martial magazines. But before they were born, before they were even twinkles in their agents’ eyes, Reed had already survived glam rock, heroin, censorship and Andy Warhol. Today, Reed credits his longevity to his Tai Chi practice. While most touring musicians demand a steady supply of top-shelf liquor, high-grade illicits and hand-picked groupies, Reed requests a private place where he can practice for an hour or two every day. “You have to know the form,” observes Reed. “Then you just get this energy out. It’s really great.”

For several years now, Reed has been studying directly under Master Ren Guang-Yi, a champion of Chen Tai Chi (or taiji as Chen students prefer to spell it). Ren and Reed form the most intriguing coupling of master and musician since Ed Parker and Elvis. Like Elvis, Reed took his master on tour, but not just as a personal trainer and bodyguard. Reed invited Ren to perform alongside him from Carnegie Hall to the Letterman show to the Winter Olympic stage in Toronto. It’s been a groundbreaking showcase for taiji, albeit distressing for fans who just want to hear Reed play “Heroin” again. “We took him on a world tour,” beams Reed with audacious pride.

Following Reed’s lead, Ren’s students rallied to create a very special DVD, CHEN TAIJIQUAN: LAO JIA YI LU & STRAIGHT SWORD. Top recording producer Tony Visconti, noted photographer Martin von Haselberg, high-tech guru Mark McGauley and director David Silver joined forces to produce a DVD of unprecedented quality.
You can see a clip of the DVD below. It is available from the YMAA Website.

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Musician’s are notorious for not leading the healthiest lifestyles due to the logistics of gigging late and/or being on the road. Since life is about balance, I would like to explore a few possibilities in this blog that may just help to restore balance in your busy life. Mia Olson teaches Yoga for Musicians at the Berklee School of Music. According to Mia, By integrating yoga into your practice routines, you will develop a more focused and concentrated mind for performance. You will be able to increase awareness of how you use your body to allow for proper posture and ease of movement while performing, helping you to avoid overuse injuries and play with greater expression.
These concepts, exercises, and practice routines present yoga from the musicians’ perspective, focusing on the direct relationships between using yoga and creating music.
You will learn to:
• Practice meditation approaches, breathing techniques, and yoga postures that will help improve musicianship
• Play using healthy posture and technique
• Get more out of your practice through improved focus
• Use your breath to improve your phrasing and also to ease performance anxiety
• Play with deeper expression through inspiration

Listen to what she has to say in the introduction video below and click on the link below it to experience a full session from one of her Berklee classes.
You can also check out her new book, “Musician’s Yoga: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Inspiration”, published by Hal Leonard and Berklee Press .

Watch a full lesson from one of Mia’s classes at Berklee School of Music

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MuscleTone Records owner and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer talks about the nuts and bolts of being self-employed, and the extent of just what that means.

In March 2010, Future of Music Coalition conducted an online survey to gauge the level of health insurance among musicians. The survey found that, of the 1,451 respondents, 33 percent said they do not have health insurance. This is nearly twice the national average of 17 percent uninsured, as estimated by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Future of Music Coalition is an advocay group dedicated to making musicians aware of their options. You can visit their site here.

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