Musicians And Stage Fright – Fight Or Flight?

Many musicians seemed to be born to be on stage or in front of a camera. They give their best and enjoy the moment with great confidence. On the other hand, however the majority of musicians have to deal with stage fright at a certain point of their carrier. And the good news is: Musicians and Stage Fright, it’s just a passage to be the stage animal you dream of being.

 

Musicians and Stage Fright

Musicians And Stage Fright – Do You Fight Or Take a Flight?


When it comes to performing in front of an audience powerful emotions kick in and cloud our judgment of the situation. Does it feel like your hands are tight and you are your own prisoner?

There are various forms of stage fright. Some are light and easy to reduce to pure excitement. This article deals with those situations where we are nervous, shaking and not breathing right. Maybe sweating, cold hands, hot cheeks….

We have all been there and we can cope with it and learn a way to use those feelings to our advantage. So this article is for you when you deal with light to medium stage fright, which we can also call performance anxiety.

If you are having straight panic attacks just thinking about a performance in front of an audience, you should seek professional help. There a many famous musicians who had to do that and overcame their fight or flight response or freeze state. Panic attacks are serious and should be dealt with professionally.

Look at a list of musicians who went through extreme stage fright ——> here.

 

Do You Fear Stage Fright? Musicians And Stage Fright


fear of stage fright

That is often how it gets worse. You have been through a situation where you couldn’t control you fingers or breathing anymore and it all went blank. Maybe you lost you track and didn’t know where to enter or you didn’t play you solo.

Those horrible experiences are very strong. They stick in our minds and produce anxiety. This is how the next time you will be afraid to walk on that stage again, or maybe even playing just for you friends and family. That one time could become more times if you give fear a way into you preparation and mind and it will fulfill the prophecy of failure.

At that point there seems to be no way out and you won’t even fight it anymore but just never put yourself in that position again.

Stop and think. We are made like this, fly dangerous situations if we can’t fight them and how should we fight ourselves when we are sure we will fail?

 

Are Musicians The Only Ones With Performance Anxiety?


No actually. There are many forms of it and the most common is Speakers’ Nervousness. That one is so strong that some people prefer to be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. Just have a look at the Anxiety and Depression Department of America and their article on how to deal with Stage Fright.

This article is very helpful as it gives 10 steps to prepare and overcome performance anxiety that anyone can implement to improve any type of performance including an audience.

Furthermore, it is imperative not only for musicians to eat well, sleep well and practice. A state of health and well-being is the best way to reduce performance anxiety. How to prepare as a musician?

For more information on those different aspects read my articles about

sleep

food

practice

How do you put yourself in the best position to perform? Let me know in the comment section below.

But also consider this idea: Life and strong emotions are born from the hip flexor muscles.

If we can train those we will be able to control life and feelings about life. Have a look at the training —————————–>here.

Where Does Stage Fright Come From?


self-doubt musicians

Maybe you are an introvert and many brilliant musicians are. Some of us lack the confidence to be able to make others have a good time by playing for them. Many of us are perfectionists and judge ourselves very harshly. We then assume the audience would do the same and become afraid of their judgment.

Some of us have had bad experiences, like memory loss, freezing on stage or shaking so much we were unable to control our movements.

Sometimes we haven’t had the time to prepare right and do not feel ready. Still, in other occasions we have to fight with a dry mouth, overheated head and very cold feet, literally.

Often we lack the imagination of it being a wonderful experience because we are caught up in the dreadful experiences we had and our mind will reproduce what it knows.

The adrenaline produced leaves us two chances, fight or flight. If you can do neither of both you freeze and self sabotage in a kind of flight on the spot.

I personally suffer from overthinking while I’m playing. What happened a lot of times was that I was performing wonderfully and my mind went “how is that possible? you never played that well. Something has to go terribly wrong in the next passage” and guess what, it does. Never fails to go wrong when I think it will. Can’t we use that to our advantage? Isn’t the opposite just as true?

 

7 Ways To Overcome Stage Fright For Musicians


That leads me to ways to overcome stage fright. Here are 7 ways to get to the same result, a fulfilling performance for you and you audience. Remember that musical performance involves an audience. No way around it, so when you play, play with them. Not against them. Open yourself up to the idea that all of you just want to have a great time and feel something amazing. You need to feel that amazing feeling to convey it, so it all starts with you own attitude to what you are going to do.

1. The first and most important is to be prepared. To study and practice well. You cannot fool yourself into thinking of being prepared when you know you are not.

2. While you practice you should also imagine you are in the performance situation. Imagine the lights going out in the audience. The applause when you enter and yourself smiling and confident. No tricks, you are prepared. Imagine yourself playing the very first sound. Listen to it as it leaves you and comes back to you. Imagine the acoustics and the audience carrying you sound together with you.

3. Visualize the moment that the audience breaks into a long applause after you performance, the tension has left and the light is turned back on. This is what is going to happen if you are prepared and willing to share a beautiful moment with you audience.

4. Change you focus. Do not think about yourself, you playing, the long hours of practice and heaven forbid the way you are going to fail anyway. This is what we usually do. Our panic feeling is a response to the unpleasant thoughts we are thinking that anticipate a situation we would rather not be in.

Think about what you are going to offer to you audience, focus on them not yourself

About why you play for them and about why they came. Connect with them and smile at them the whole time, also in your visualization. Try to greet them innerly. One by one. Welcome them.

5. Find out the right breathing exercises and meditation to relax and calm down before and after a concert. You can read about breathing and stretching exercises in my other articles here and here.

6. Be yourself, no perfection needed. It is perfectly fine to make a mistake. You do not have to be flawless. No one is. Your connection with the audience will be so much deeper and more enjoyable on both sides if you can just relax and smile about you own shortcomings. Acknowledge you are afraid. You can even tell them. Just use positive words like excitement and energy. Be generous to them and to yourself. Everyone can relate much better! be yourself

7. My very own way is to create a bodily feeling of the sound of my music. It has to be a strong positive emotion. Like feeling at home. E-motion is energy in motion, vibration.

I create my own positive vibration and inhabit it. I then open the door and welcome everyone to have a sip of the energy, sit down and make themselves comfortable.

 

Music Is Vibration, Feelings Are Vibration – Vibration Is Our Essence


But this is just the result, a natural result. The important thing is to inhabit your sound and create a positive vibe. Besides, this feeling has the duration of a second or even less, but I can create it whenever I want and keep out thoughts of self-doubt. There is simply no space as the feeling is huge, even limitless. No way of breaking in. And then I play the first note and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy again.

The good feeling enhances the sound, the sound enhances the feeling. We can then just glow and shine and invite everyone in.

Does that make sense to you? Feelings are the strongest vehicle we have. Therefore attach different strong, reassuring and warm feelings to every passage while you study. Relive them every time you play and you will be back in there on stage.

That feeling is what the audience remembers, not a mistake. Moreover, they will feel enriched because you did generously give them something. A pure wonderful vibration that uplifted them. After all, that is what music is all about, isn’t it?

 

How To Get Rid Of Stage Fright, Light and Bright Insight!


cabbage field

There are some fun ways as well. My mother, a flutist, told me that her grandmother (farmer) told her to look at the audience and imagine that they are all cabbage heads. Not as an offense, but the way a cabbage field looks like. And play for the food you will be blessed to eat.

However, my mother somehow wasn’t that much into cabbage and found another way: She imagined everyone naked! Literally without clothes. She was the only one dressed and her sound would dress the audience slowly. Piece by piece.

At the end of the concert everyone is dressed and happily applauding. Lights are turned back on and she can smile at the great job she had done!!

Understandably, I’m very happy that her audience never knew why she was radiant and smiling so much. They just thought she was confident and a fantastic musician, offering generously good feelings and beautiful sounds.

Isn’t that awesome? Try it out and let me know if it worked! Or find you own story and let us all know how you did it.

Link it to a vibration of joy, fun, lightness, ease and happiness.

 

Musicians And Stage Fright No More – Highlight!


How do you handle stage fright? What is your solution? Please share you experience in the comment section below and let us know how you deal with stage fright.

no more stage fright

What have you tried and does it work?

We would love to read you ideas.

Leave us a comment below!

 

Happy and fulfilling performance,

 

If it has been a while since your last performance, read our article about how to get back up to speed quickly!!

Janie from Topflute

founder of

Musicians and Stage Fright

 

 

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

foods to avoid for a flat stomach – and as a flutist

Food for flutists and a flat stomach

4 things to avoid


So what are the foods to avoid for a flat stomach, and also as a flutist?

Having a flat stomach and eating well to play the flute at the best of your skills are actually quite similar in method to achieve it. Especially in what to avoid!

Actually if you read my previous article it is pretty clear what to avoid. Let’s see if we got that so far:

food for flutists - avoid those1. Refined Sugar and Refined Grain


Sugary drinks and sweets and also packaged food with hidden sugar should be avoided. As well as refined grain based meals.

Not only because it is generally unhealthy. It causes an energy peak right after consuming it and leaves you with less energy than before.

2. Dairy products


As we grow older we have less possibility to process lactose and it constitutes a burden on our digestive system. We should try to substitute cow milk with vegetable derived drinks and make sure they do not have extra sugar added. If you go with soy, which is one of the most genetically modified products together with corn (mais), be sure you choose organic. You might want to drink your coffee or tea black and acquire a new expertise in its taste! Cut down your cheese and yogurt as well and be sure to take calcium and vitamin D supplements and get enough sunlight.

3. Too much coffee


Actually this also depends on the quality of the coffee.

Filter coffee is much more aggressive on your stomach than you might think. The filter keeps the small healthy fat elements from the coffee beans out of your dripped cup of coffee and has thus no protection.

Espresso is a much healthier choice. It is less liquid and contains all parts of the ground coffee bean. You can start using organic as well and brewing your espresso at home with your own moka.

The Bean Coffee Company Organic Il Chicco (Traditional Italian Roast), Dark Roast, Whole Bean, 16-Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Bialetti 06800 Moka stove top coffee maker, 6 -Cup, Aluminum

A bonus tip in foods to avoid for a flat stomach – and as a flutist


Keep the coffee ground and use it as scrub in the shower. You will be surprised how nutritious and soothing it is for your skin while peeling off the dead skin. It leaves your skin well nourished with a protective layer. You will see why you need those fatty parts to protect the inside of your stomach as well.

Coffee makes you also feel fatigue and pain much less and boosts your mood. So be sure to never exaggerate and do stretching and muscle training as well.

You can catch up on that

===> clicking here for the muscle training

===>and here for classic stretching exercises.

4. Red meat


It will stay in your stomach for an average of three days, so you can see why that wouldn’t be a good idea. Much of your energy will be used to digest and divert oxygen from your brain to your stomach. Just make sure you get enough iron supply (Spinach and lentils), proteins (fish, poultry, eggs) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts).

 

Staying healthy and strong as a flutist

foods to avoid for a flat stomach and as a flutist


flutist JTH

To clear this again, I am not a doctor, just a musician with a lot of funny, embarrassing or helpful experience. I figured out what works best for me and hope it can be of value for you.

Not only eating healthy and well, but also sleeping enough is very important. It might not seem so in the beginning, but in the long run, you will be thankful for every minute you slept. To get more insight on that, you can read my article about sleep impacts on performance clicking here.

Be sure to take some time off and have a nice long walk. Concentrate on your breathing and the sound of nature if you can.

Listen to music, be curious, smile a lot and laugh whenever you can. It boosts your immune system and trains your respiratory muscles. Be nice to your colleagues and bond with them. This is all very important to stay healthy and at the top of your skills.

Be kind to yourself and everybody else.

A flat stomach is also the product of posture and muscles being flexible and trained. Especially hip flexor muscles are important for musicians. In particular flutists! Train them to be flexible and receive a boost of energy in return: —–> to your training.

A flutist’s menu – foods to avoid for a flat stomach – and as a flutist


Enough of the talking, essentially a flutist’s menu reflects the Healthy Eating Pyramid and with just some little adjustments this is our menu:

healthy food - musicians and all

As you can see, daily exercise is essential. We are not talking about studying the flute. Drink a lot of water and vegetables and fish are the foundations of a healthy diet.

Choose whole grains and healthy fats and oils. Vegetables and fruits are the basis of a fit and healthy person. Eat fruits before performing or studying and vegetables after.

A glass of wine or beer is also included. Just let us not exaggerate! For energy nuts and seeds are the best and fish, poultry and eggs are best consumed after a performance or long before.

Happy flute meals,

Janie

founder of

3 rules to play together in a music group

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

 

Coffee and Stress – coming down after a concert

Coffee and stress

Adrenalin pumping, hawk eyes on the conductor, eagle eyes on the sheet music, neurons squeezing out memory from rehearsal, empty stomach, no sleep and lots of caffeine.

Coffee and stress is what broad us physically up that stage and so this is usually the physical situation of a concert.

coffee and stress

Some times we are blessed and enter a flow state where everything becomes easy, we don’t feel the sauna heat or north pole temperature, we become one with what we are doing. No thinking, just the moment, just the music, just the flow.

Any way it went, when it’s over, we have a problem! How do we come down from either state? Back to normal life and needs?

 

Another thing is the coming down frome coffee and stress after these events


 

Most of the times you go for dinner after the concert or rehearsal and that will get you to bed very late, because usually you will finish off with a nice drink somewhere and then head where you sleep or take a train and rest on the train.

I think you get where I’m going. This is fun once in a while and anti stress as well. Social relationships and time spend together is definitely also very valuable and will help your mood and health. BUT try to limit it, to find a compromise.

coffee and stress

Way to go – how to manage in the long run


Maybe two times you bring your own light dinner and eat it during breaks (you will be surprised how many will follow your healthy example) one of those two times you have a drink with the others and then head home, the other time you go straight home.

Every third time you stay for dinner and do the whole ritual!

It definitely improves your overall sleeping hours and still keeps you socially active. Furthermore, will it improve your health and fitness, if you do not eat big meals and drink a lot every time after a concert.

The next day you will be able to play, because we always do, we are trained to play in our sleep!! But you will feel your neurons trying to keep each other awake and asking desperately for a break, or the magic word COFFEE!

Coffee and sleep


Coffee is a wonderful thing and it keeps your body alert, lessens pain and fatigue.

To some amount it can help prevent obstruction of blood flow. Also get it quicker to your brain, where the oxygen is needed. But your body can get used to it and react less all the time. I know many musicians, me included, who can just sleep off right after having a double espresso!

 

musicians never sleep

Well, who doesn’t love the coffee break in a practice or rehearsal session.

But it can also prevent our body from getting into the relaxed mood at night to go to sleep.

So caffeine can have an impact on our sleep if we drink much of it later in the day, if we are not yet used to it. Caffeine can do a better job if we do not abuse of it.

 

Real danger to sleep quality and health


 

In terms of sleep quality, however, what is actually much more dangerous are

nicotine and alcohol.

healthy flutist

Researchers found that coffee does not have so much effect on our sleeping patterns and sleep quality as we can often hear. As long as we do not drink tons of it in the evening. Which, unfortunately I do.

Caffeine is a stimulant and can enhance stress symptoms as well, so the dosage of caffeine or tea-caffeine is very much depending on your own psychological well-being. We should avoid cigarettes and alcohol before sleep (especially).

One important comment on the coffee is: don’t sweeten it (too much, at least). It’s the sugar that will have a more damaging effect on your health than the caffeine.

If you are interested in the best Italian coffee, how to make it and which one is the real deal,  click:

——————-> HERE

Coffee and stress – what’s new?


Yeah, we know. It’s our life. So don’t come tell me it’s dangerous!!

 

Well, let us change what we can and add some good stuff : bananas, dark chocolate, lots of water, no sugar (as it will curve our attention further down than it has been in a short energy boost). And we can add to some level, dependent on our anxiety and stress state, black coffee and tea.

dark choclate If you want to read more about food that enhances performance, have a click ——> food for musicians.

Never miss a good sleep though! Follow the advice on my article ———> lack of sleep and impact on performance.

If there is no other option, you will have to cut down your concerts, gigs and teaching sessions, travels and tours. And where do I get the money from?

 

I have listed some ways for musicians to design their new life style and accomplish paid work from home.

 

If you are interested have a look at what I propose: ———–> life design for musicians

 

Stay healthy my flute friends, eat and sleep and be happy!!!

 

Janie

founder of

topflute.com

 

and myflutelife.com

logo JTH

Food for flutists – what to eat to enhance performance

If you have ever had to play with a full stomach, or an empty one craving for food, you know how crucial this aspect is! Food for flutists is going to break down what it takes for your stomach to be quiet and happy, supporting you instead of hindering your breathing, leaving you with the energy to concentrate on the music.

Food for flutists - do not over eat

 

3 tips on what to eat before a performance and a bonus secret


First of all: I’m not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, just a flutist who has lived through some embarrassing experiences and wishes to help you avoid that and be at your best, always!

1.food for flutists - banana

Maybe you have heard of it: The food to eat before an important performance or audition is a banana. It gives you the minerals you need, fructose and strength. It is best if you eat it 20min before you have to be at the top of your preparation. Just another information, bananas are fantastic, but the fruits treated the most of them all. So be sure you buy organic bananas. (A beauty tip as well: if you have the shell of organic bananas and those stripes that remain, put them on your face and neck, where ever you feel your skin is losing elasticity, dryness or wrinkles. It also helps to even out the skin reducing its imperfections. Much cheaper and more effective than many face creams.)

Be sure you are able to brush your teeth as we wouldn’t want any banana parts rocketing through your flute!

2.

If you really need to be at the peak of your energy, add a piece of dark chocolate, possibly with whole nuts in it. This will help you to perform at the best you can, it gives you energy, uplifts your mood, provides you with antioxidants and vitamin E as well as with healthy fats that protect your nervous system.

Lindt Excellence Bar, 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Chocolate, Gluten Free

Also, after the chocolate you should wash your mouth, because it triggers saliva production which could interfere with your sound quality.

3.food for flutists - orange juice

If on the other hand you have problems with a too dry mouth and tongue, drink a glass of orange juice. Choose a fresh one if you can, or at least without sugar added. This will help with the dryness of your oral cavity and induce salivation.

Bonus secret

Not only food for flutists can have an impact on saliva production, but there is another trick that doesn’t involve food.

It sounds a little weird but it works! Pull your earlobe while making a yawing movement with your jaw. Keep your lips closed while doing that. Let me know in the comment section below if it helped you too!

 

 

Food for flutists – all day long


First thing, what does a flutist look for in food? We wouldn’t want to overcharge our stomach with digestion as this would hinder optimal diaphragmatic breathing. To get a closer look at how a flutist’s breathing works click here.

So in order to do that you should pay attention to chew everything you eat thoroughly before you swallow it.

We look for energetic healthy food. Nutrients that empower us and do not slow us down. They should be easy to digest and release energy gradually over time. So never over eat! In fact follow the Japanese, they have a fantastic golden rule:

Hara hachi bun me

Eat  until you feel 8 parts out of ten full, not more. Eat until you still could continue, but stop. No need to be completely full. 80% is more than enough to sustain our everyday flute life and keep us healthy.

over eating

So what is on the menu for us?

Food for flutists – in the morning


In the morning boost your energy with fruits. They are easy to digest, provide energy and vitamins and have a slow and prolonged release of fructose turned into glucose which keeps your energy level up also in the long run. If you can choose local fruits as nature knows what’s best for you right where you are. No need for passion fruit or mango if you live in Northern Europe. An apple will just be as fine. If you can choose organic and eat the peel as well as many vitamins are stored there.

Limit your dairy product consumption as it burdens your digestive system and slows you down. So choose soy milk if you wish to eat your muesli. I just go with the fruits in the morning and a black coffee. Which should be substituted by tea, but hey, no one’s perfect. If instead you are used to your bread roll, make it whole grain and use organic 100 % fruit jam, no butter.

 

food for flutists - apple

Food for flutists – at lunch


For lunch choose anything that is easy to digest, as a musician’s day is still long. This means NO SALAD for lunch, NO RAW VEGETABLES. They get your blood to your stomach and will use your energy for breaking those down. Vegetables are better cooked, maybe steamed, and of course NOT FRIED. Go with the whole grain version of whatever you choose and add high value protein (fish, eggs). Avoid beans and lentils for lunch, your neighbor in the orchestra will thank you! Same goes for onions and garlic. As desert go with another fruit. I usually finish with an espresso, but I live in Italy. You might go with tea or warm water option. The warm water is another trick I learned from the Asian world. A glass of warm water can work miracles. They also use it first thing in the morning. You might want to try that!

 

In between meals go with the fruit and nuts options, dark chocolate and fruit juices if you need more energy. Cut down on sugar. Drink a glass of warm water or tea to calm your cravings.

 

Food for flutists – in the evening


At dinner and I’m talking about having finished playing the flute, studying, performing or rehearsing, go with the good stuff that takes all night to digest: Salads, raw vegetables, beans and lentils. Make sure you take in more protein at lunch than at dinner. As dinner is for integrating good fats (olive oil, fatty fish) and carbs. Yes, carbs in the evening helps you digest what you eat and the energy valley after the first peak will get you to sleep more deeply and fast.

A cup of tea or a glass of warm water is always beneficial, unless you can’t go to the restroom in the hour after consumption!

Be sure to check which foods to avoid and what a healthy food pyramid looks like ——> here.

 

A flutist’s menu – food for flutists


 

So what is your ritual before going out there on the stage? Chocolate like I do, strictly 90%?

Lindt Excellence Bar, 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Chocolate, Gluten Free, Great for Holiday Gifting, 3.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

What do you eat in the mornings? Would you like a link to organic coffee and an espresso moka?
The Moka is what we use in Italy when we are not with George Clooney… 😂

Bialetti 06800 Moka stove top coffee maker, 6 -Cup, Aluminum

The Bean Coffee Company Organic Il Chicco (Traditional Italian Roast), Dark Roast, Whole Bean, 16-Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Also check out my article on life design for musicians, as living healthier starts with more time and satisfaction. ——-> life design for musicians.

Is there any advice you can give us?

I’d be more than happy to know how you do it and maybe learn and add something to my list
of food for flutists.

 

Thank you for sharing your experience below in the comment section.

 

Have a happy flute meal,

Janie

founder of

3 rules to play together in a music group

 

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

 

 

Stretching classics

Staying in one position for a long time, especially when performing, can lead to pain. To prevent chronic pain, I wish to point out some stretching classics, that are helpful especially to flutists.

As musicians, flutists in particular, we have to support an extra weight and add it to our body’s gravitational center and that might result in an overload leading to rigidity and unfortunately pain.

I’m not a doctor, just a flutist who loves to run, so I might have some helpful stretching exercises here. They help me stay flexible and prevent pain.

Cats are said to be a musicians’ favorite pet. That might be true, definitely for me. But have you ever really thought you could learn from them? You can! They are stretching masters.

Try to imitate them now and then and you will gain not only your cat’s sympathy but also a lot of benefit from preventing stiffness and overload.

 

Stretching masters - cats

Stretching Masters – Cats

Stretching classics for musicians


So let’s have a look at some stretching exercises for musicians that can help prevent pain, especially stretching points for flutists.  Needless to say, that we should try to exercise regularly, especially strengthening our muscles (like swimming).

Running is not bad, especially as counter activity to staying seated all day. But think about more muscles strengthening exercises for your back, like riding a bike or swimming. The later is fantastic also for breathing strength training.

If you like to check out my article about respiratory training click here.

What are the main body points to address with stretching exercises?

As we hold our instruments in once unnatural positions that have become natural to us, we put our wrists under stress, especially if they have to carry weight.

Shoulders are another target that we ought to think about, as they often fall inwards and cause the upper back and neck to experience stress and eventually pain as well.

Another important point is the lower back. Many of us stay seated for hours and tend to slowly curve our back which is causing our lower back to ache.

 

Stretching classics for wrists


Starting from the front part of our body, we will first concentrate on the one part that doesn’t belong to the posterior muscle chain. Static stretching is not always the answer and can even be detrimental, if it is not completed with dynamic stretching exercises that involve movement.

So we will use exercises that can help strengthen the body parts that suffer, and elongate them at the same time.

It is very important to follow up on static stretches, that you hold without movement ( for example counting to 15), you do moving stretches as well. So my personal idea of power stretching for the wrists looks like this:

Hold this position for 15 seconds and then let your arm hang low and wobble your hand freely for another 15 seconds.

Repeat on the other wrist.

Wrist flexor stretchStretching classics Wrist flexor stretch

Hold this position for 15 secondes and then let your arm hang low and wobble your hand freely for another 15 seconds.

Repeat on the other wrist.

Wrist extensor stretch   Stretching classics wrist extensor stretch

Stretching classics for shoulders


Now the worst part for most musicians when it comes to stretching classics are the shoulders. Especially flutists suffer from shoulder pain and can benefit from the following stretching exercises for musicians.

The posterior muscle chain especially the upper part have traction or pulling function during a musicians’ activity so you will need to elongate, that is stretch, your deltoid muscles. This is one of the most beneficial static stretches that a musician can do whatever instrument he or she plays.

Try to hold this position for 20 seconds and change sides.

Deltoid muscle stretch

Stretching classics deltamuscle

Right after this static stretching exercise we should include a dynamic one. So follow the movements in the pendulum exercise below. Change directions after 5 slow circles and try to keep you shoulder relaxed and in a low hanging position as the exercise will have more lasting benefits. After 10 circles change the shoulder side. Do it slowly and breathe deeply.

Pendulum Exercise

Stretching classics pendulum exercise

Now that we have hold our shoulder hanging forward and relieved some stress in the rotator area of our shoulders we can do another static stretch to open up our chest.

Hold both sides for 20 seconds. PS: You don’t have to do it in your underwear…

Stretching classics shoulder open

Let us do some more dynamic stretching exercises for the upper back and shoulders before we move on to the lower part. Open and close your shoulders in a forward – backward movement like shown in the image below and repeat this 10 times.

Stretching classics shoulders forward

If you have the possibility to lie down, you can involve your shoulder blades in this exercise of forward and backward movement.

Stretching classics shoulder blades

Let us hope that the ladies in their underwear aren’t catching a cold while showing us a last static exercise to stretch all of our body, especially the sides. It looks a little like what cats sometimes do.

So it must be helpful!

Stretchting classics feline way

Stretching exercises for the lower back


Sitting down especially has an impact on our lower back. This is because when we sit we pull our legs to our body using the hip flexors. Keeping this position for a long time will lead to need stretch the hip flexors.

  • A useful exercise is the following: Stand on one single leg and keep it straight. Lift you other knee until it makes a 90° angle to your standing leg. Stay in this position counting to 10. Then relax for 1 minute and do it again. Repeat this also for the other leg. This doesn’t only help the hip flexors but also strengthens the standing leg.
  • Another useful exercise implies lying down: While you lie straight, even on a table or the ground pull one leg to your chest and let the other one hang or lie comfortably. Stay in this position counting to 10. Then relax and change sides. Repeat this exercise three times.
  • The last one is another static one: Pull both knees to your chest while lying down and enjoy the stretching feeling it gives to your lower back.

Unlock your hipflexors to prevent pain and ease life—-> here.

 

Stretching classics for flutists


Concerning stretching for flutists, do the wrist and shoulder stretches every where and when ever you can.

Try to practice standing and not sitting so your hips and lower back will not experience too much flexion and traction. Standing is very helpful for maintaining the lower back flexible.

If you do have to be in rehearsals where you sit for hours, remember to do the lower back exercises as well.

Now you know how to prevent pain and aches, act on it!

Eat well and sleep well, stretch, look at any cat you can find and have a lot of fun!!!

These stretching exercises are classics and I listed them to help you out and prevent pain. Also have a look at my article on sleep loss and its impact on performance clicking here.

If you do experience aches and pain these exercises won’t help and can even deteriorate your situation, you need to search a doctor’s advise.

This article is to prevent stiffness and pain.
If you wish to train your muscles specifically or look for orthopedic help you have to turn to a professional
trainer or doctor. I’m neither of both.

I’m just a flutist trying to stay healthy and help you do the same!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment section below and I will be more than happy to answer!

Happy flute life,

Janie

founder of

3 rules to play together in a music group

 

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

 

musician muscle training

Do you play an instrument where you need absolute control of your breathing? And all the muscles that are employed to control prolonged exhaling? Then this article about musician muscle training is for you!

Musician muscle training

wind musician muscle trainingWind instruments’ special


Did you know that your abdominal muscles should be flexible rather than strong? Yes that’s right. It’s not the muscle training you are used to from the fitness studio. We are not going to build up new muscle mass, but we are going to train our muscles so that they can endure prolonged fatigue and be flexible during it.

What we need is abdominal and pelvic muscles to be stretched and release with control, so that we can control the sound we make.

We do that by directed our air stream and manipulating its velocity, volume and pressure. Also the path it takes. The longer it takes the more we can form it into the sound we aim for. We need strong hip flexors for that so join the training —> here.

We need our muscles to be flexible and stretchable, we need to be able to relax them as well. That is what the musician muscle training is all about. Tension and relaxation in just the parts of the body we need at the moment we need it.

Too much tension will cause pain and too much relaxation won’t let us play anything, so we need to develop a sort of energy passage through our body.

As wind instrumentalists and flute players especially musician muscle training is all about the air flow.

Respiratory muscle training –  3 progressive exercises


blowing in the wind

Yeah, that’s right, we need to whistle on the wind bow we ourselves create! So here are three useful exercises to train our respiratory muscles. At first, we will train our capacity exhaling and inhaling. This way we get a feeling of how much air we can contain and where it actually goes.

Musicians like to sit and control their breathing, don’t they?

So there we go, make yourself comfortable and sit down.

  1. Exhale every bit of air you have got inside of you. When you think you are at the limit, exhale some more, there is still air! As you are completely empty, inhale slowly filling up the bottom of your pelvic zone first. When you pile up the air slowly to the stomach and the chest, lift your arms slightly to the side and take the air also in your armpits and your back. Hold a few seconds and exhale slowly and completely again. Repeat this exercise three times in a row and several times a week.
  2. As in the first exercise take in the air slowly but concentrate on different parts that need to be fully filled with air, e.g. the upper back, lower back, stomach, chest, pelvic zone. Only when they are filled, complete inhaling with the other zones. Exhale slowly but keep the air in the chosen zone for last!
  3. Now we will concentrate on exhaling and the involved muscles. Inhale fully and quickly. You know now what it feels like. On the sound of the consonant “f” exhale very slowly, trying to achieve 20 sec or more. While you exhale let your diaphragm go downwards instead of upwards. As the air goes out, have a downward and outward movement of your pelvic muscles, diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Kind of the opposite of exhaling. In fact, the movement should be of inhaling even though you let the air out.

Can you feel that your rips can actually expand? Especially the lower ones as they are not fixed to the sternum in front? Amazing, isn’t it? To find our more about it read my article about diaphragmatic breathing and learn about more exercises!

 

Abdominal muscles training – 2 useful exercises


Do we get defined abdominal muscles by paying the flute? No, unfortunately not the kind you see from bodybuilders!

But yes, you will train them to be flexible, move fast or slow and be at your service. To find out more about the diaphragm and abdominal muscles you can either read my article or have a look at wikipedia

For the following exercises lie down comfortably, but straight!

  1. Lying on your back take a big and heavy book, or your cat or other pet and put it on your stomach! Inhale an try to lift it with your abdomen. Now exhale again very slowly let the air out on the consonant “f”. Try to achieve 20 sec at least. But most important: keep the book, your beloved pet or whatever you put on our stomach, up high. That means your abdomen expanded and do not let it down until you run out of air. Repeat this exercise for at least three times in a row.
  2. Still lying on your back, put your fingers below your rips and see if you can actually enter below them. This is to see whether your muscles are relaxed. They need to be able to relax, to be flexible. Don’t worry you won’t need your pet for this! Now put your hands on your stomach and keep it low. Inhale quickly but only into the chest (it should lift). Now do not inhale or exhale, use only the air inside of you and move it. Yes, you read right. Move the air from the chest to the abdomen (which should lift, while the chest sinks) and then back again. Do this five or six times until you need to breathe again. This is crucial for the flexibility of your abdomen and diaphragm.

It would be best if you had a yoga mat to practice this on. If you don’t have one yet, be sure to check out the  offer on the yoga mat I use —-> here.

Your mat should be thick, non-slip and maybe have a strap for carrying.

I personally have the one mentioned above, but you might also like to have a look at the following one. Especially if you like it softer, because this one is extra thick and comfy  —–>Health and Fitness mat.

 

Congratulations on your patience and tenacity


Now you able to translate this to your instrument. In many different ways this will get your playing to the next level. Especially concerning the sound quality which is also determined by a good and natural vibrato that can only come from a flexible use of your diaphragm, abdominal and respiratory muscles. They all concur to the beauty of your sound and are very much your personal business card. If you like to read more about diaphragmatic breathing you can check it out here.

Use this new and fundamental skill to develop your very own vibrato and sound. On that you can read more in my article about the vibrato on the flute.

Now especially after studying your instrument, but also after training your abdomen and respiratory muscles be sure to make use of stretching techniques adequate for your posture.

I will be treating stretching for flutists especially in my next article —-> here.

musician muscle training smile

So stay tuned and let me know

if I can help you any further in the comment section!

Get your hip flexors trained professionally so you will have more energy, control and fun playing the flute. When I found this training I was finally where I needed to be : hip flexors.

Happy respiration – inspiration – transpiration- admiration

Janie

founder of

musician muscle training

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

Lack of sleep impacts performance

As a musician we have very odd hours, often we have to be active and focused late at night for concerts or travel and get up early in the morning for more travel or studying and rehearsals. But you should consider that the lack of sleep impacts your performance.

Not the best schedule to get the hours of sleep we need. In fact, we tell ourselves:

What we musicians think about sleep
What many musicians think about sleep…

 

But as this can be very risky to our health and well-being, I wish to point out some facts here that I gathered for you:

Sleep deprivation and health risks


In general, we know that we should sleep at least six hours a night, or even 7 – 9 hours as the National Sleep Foundation recommends for adults. But sometimes we just don’t have the possibility to do so because of our late hours rehearsing or performing. So sometimes we spend weeks or months without the appropriate amount of sleep. Promulgated sleep loss correlated health issues will have to be considered as health risks with important effects.

 

effects of sleep deprivation on your performance and health

 

Sleep loss and health risks are correlated directly and it is important to take it seriously. As listed in the above image, not only do we face irritability, moral judgment impairment, diabetes and obesity, we might catch a cold more frequently as our immune system does no longer work sufficiently well.

 

 

Lack of sleep and lack of sleep impacts performance


– possible musical performance impairment-

Even more disturbing (to us musicians) is what lack of sleep does to our musical skills:

  • cognitive impairment (might be nice to quit that little nagging voice in our head and we have all been there, at this point where we couldn’t judge our playing anymore, we didn’t have the energy to comment on ourselves while playing and our performance actually improved…well for a while)
  • memory lapses or losses might me more frightening
  • increased reaction time is definitely impeding a fulfilling performance, as is
  • decreased accuracy!
  • tremors might be very damaging while playing and could also result in
  • aches, that will at a certain point keep us from playing at all.

 

8 health benefits that come with good sleep


 

Sleep and health benefits are indivisible. But what are those benefits exactly?

 

  1. Relaxation, our muscles are relaxed and their energy restored. Our breath goes deeper and further and helps our musical activity enormously.
  2. We are less prone to stress and don’t feel its effect so deeply. We can handle stage anxiety in a much more effective way.
  3. Well refreshed, we are friendlier, more patient, emotionally more intelligent and present and our relationships, private as in the musical business world will definitely be more stable and productive.
  4. Our immune system is able to fight of colds and so on and we will become sick less often.
  5. Our overall health will be better, as when you are restored after a good night’s sleep you are prone to be more active, which also helps you to sleep better and fight overweight. As well as other serious diseases linked to obesity.
  6. Our mind will be able to focus and connect, we will think more clearly and more accurately. Our decisions will be quicker and impact our performance positively, as our reaction time is lower.
  7. We will take better decisions also morally and will be less prone to accidents.
  8. Our well-being and our mood will be so much better and thus our motivation to do anything and do it well will be enhanced.

 

Sleep for brain health


 

Attention please, somebody has to catch up on some sleep
Don’t step on the sleeping musician!!!!

When we sleep is actually the time when we

 

learn!

Why lack of sleep impacts performance

 

 

 

Sleep is not only to not impact our performance negatively but also actively improving it.

I urge you to understand that. You actually learn, when your brain is at rest from having to react to the outside world and relives the day. It builds strong bridges and adds feelings to it, it engraves neuronal pathways and activates them, it puts order into all the different input without the stress that it had to deal with in daytime, or awake-time. Not only does it stabilize new synapse-connections, it also continues to search for solutions where you only had a problem when you were awake.

Have you ever felt that you woke up and finally had the answer to a question that you had forgotten about? This feeling, that is why you need to sleep! Your brain feeds on the glucose and oxygen that is of nearly no use to the rest of the body and can do so as its needs command. It doesn’t have to react to anything out of its own function.

Lack of sleep could result in impairment of this fundamental process for brain functioning and performance. You might come up with an idea for your group, a fingering for a difficult passage, a phrasing idea that clarifies the whole piece, a decision on what to play in the next concert, a passage finally by heart, an idea for a transcription, arrangement, composition or jazz solo. You name it. This can happen when you sleep enough. You will need to study fewer hours and what you learn will be memorized in a more time and energy efficient way.

 

Sleep for musicians – sleep enough when there is no time?


As said in the opening statement, we musicians simply don’t have the time to sleep for 8 hours.

And that is real. We cannot follow the sleeping schedule of most other people which is the following:Sleep pattern usually adopted by people who perform well during every day tasks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what can we do?

We should try to rest at anytime possible. We should include some hours here and there and close our eyes. On the train, in the waiting room, during rehearsals where you have 100 rest bars (no, just kidding)… Our brain needs times with no new intake and absolute reflection at its own pace and in its own way, without your awareness and consciousness controlling and limiting it.

From a practical example: You have slept for 4 hours at night and now you arrived where you had to be for rehearsal or performance and you have two hours before you start. Usually you would practice on and off for two hours and then rush into performance mode. I recommend to sleep for one our. Look for a bench, a room, a cabinet, any place you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, shut out noises and light and just float off. Then study 45min and get mentally ready to perform or rehearse. You can also first study and then rest. But I suggest you cut it in half and get one hour rest.

 

I was also very interested in coffee consumption concerning musicians and the impact it might have on health and sleep. Luckily, for all coffee junkies like me, it is not too bad!

Have a good read here ——->                                                               Coffee and Stress

 

 

 

Lack of sleep impacts performance on all levels


Cats get their dose of sleep anywhere and anytime
Definetely sleep experts

So

Go and sleep anywhere and anytime you can! Don’t mind the position, not even the usual function of what you rest upon, just go and get some rest! Follow the advice of cats. Sleep anywhere anytime, and because it might not be the best position. Go and stretch out afterwards. Walk and do things elegantly with your head up high. Be curious about the world. Become fascinated, learn things, play and perform.  But the most important thing, eat and sleep!

Cheers to our furry little friends and masters!

 

 

Also check my article about creating a more satisfying lifestyle —–> life design for musicians.

Stay healty my flute friends and check out what to eat before you perform ——> food for flutists.

 

Happy flute life,

Janie

founder of

                   topflute.com

and       myflutelife.com

lack of sleep impacts performance