Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Home » Resources » Health » End the Pain and Get Back to Playing

End the Pain and Get Back to Playing


The second most common reason for doctor visits is back pain. In fact, about 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. Whether you play drums, guitar, violin, or trombone, you are at risk of developing back pain. As a musician, it can have a severe detrimental effect on your livelihood. 

Common causes of back pain include excess weight, poor posture, improper movements, and repetitive strain. By making some simple changes in your lifestyle and taking better care of your back, and your body as a whole, back pain can often be eliminated from your life.

Stay Fit

Being overweight puts constant strain on your back, and weak abdominal muscles exacerbate the problem because they help to support the spine. So, watch your weight and spend some time and effort exercising. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity. 

Also, make stretching a part of your daily routine, and not only before and after you exercise. Make it a part of your practice routine as well. Stretching before, during, and after performance or practice on your instrument will help you feel more comfortable and avoid injury.

Check Your Posture

Make sure you are always checking your posture, especially when practicing your instrument. Check the height of your chair and the position of your music stand, as well as your instrument. Your feet should be flat on the floor (unless using a guitarist’s foot rest) with your knees level to your hips. If your chair doesn’t support your lower back, place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind you. If you find yourself caught up in a long practice session, change your position occasionally. Plus, get up and stretch when you have a short break. 

If you have to stand for a prolonged period of time, keep one foot forward of the other, and your knees slightly bent. This takes pressure off your lower back. Change position often to avoid strain and keep your circulation flowing. 

Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves, and because a back is not designed to support the upper body in a curved position, slouching may lead to muscle fatigue and injury. Incorrect body movements—excessive spine rotation to reach auxiliary keyboards or distant cymbals—may be part of your technique. If you are unsure, check yourself in the mirror and/or ask an experienced teacher to evaluate your form. 

Monitor your back position even when you are sleeping. Sleeping in a curled up position or with too thick of a pillow can cause upper spine pain. Sleeping on your back puts 55 pounds of pressure on your back. If you must sleep on your back, try putting a couple pillows under your knees, which will cut the pressure in half.

Lifting Heavy Equipment

Musicians often have to carry heavy equipment to gigs and home again, which puts them at higher risk for back injury. If you are carrying the item by hand, kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor, as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body and maintain your back’s natural curvature. If an item is excessively heavy or bulky use a lift truck or find someone to help you.

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