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 www.afm.org/join.
March 12, 2014IM -
Most musicians will experience discomfort while playing at some time during their careers. One of the most common causes of pain among musicians is an overuse injury. These often affect the wrists and arms or neck and shoulders. Overuse injury is defined as a breakdown of tissues (muscles, tendons, or ligaments) that have been stressed beyond their physiological limits.
Common Injury Symptoms
There are many types of overuse injuries. Some of the more common overuse injuries and symptoms are:
Carpal tunnel syndrome: characterized by a tingling sensation or numbness of the thumb, index, and middle finger.
Tendinitis: inflammation of irritation in the tendon (or muscle attached to the tendon).
Bursitis: inflammation of tendons, muscles, or skin.
Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: pain on the inside of the wrist and forearm.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: characterized by pain, swelling, or puffiness in the arms and hands, neck and shoulder pain, muscle weakness, difficulty gripping objects, muscle cramps, and tingling or numbness in the neck and shoulders.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: pain in the upper extremity such as arm, elbow, and hand.
Overuse injuries are classified as acute or chronic. An acute injury might occur suddenly during a period of time when a musician is intensely working on a new technique or difficult piece of music. A chronic injury is one that takes place gradually, often becoming worse over the course of weeks or months.
Here are some preventative measures to help you play healthier and avoid overuse injuries.
Get in shape and stay in shape. Tight, weak muscles that get little exercise are more susceptible to all types of injury. Musicians who are squarely focused on their career and practicing their instrument may be less likely to take time out for general physical fitness.
Warm up before playing. Warm bodies are much less likely to be injured. Don’t just jump into playing or practicing your instrument. Take time to warm up your neck, arms, shoulders, and back with some simple movement before sounding your first note. For example, perform some slow shoulder shrugs, head rolls, side bends, and twists. Only after your body has warmed up, should you warm up on your instrument by playing some scales, etc.
Pace yourself. If you suddenly jump from practicing three or four hours per day to eight hours per day, you are setting yourself up for injury as tissues try to compensate for the sudden increase in activity. Also, the more tired you become, the more likely you are to slip into adopting poor posture or technique. Take frequent breaks. Try taking a 10-minute break for every 30 minutes or so of practice. Pay attention to your body. Never play when you are exhausted.
Avoid sudden changes in your habits. Suddenly switching from one instrument to another can lead to injury as your body tries to adjust to new positions. Try to implement a new instrument over a period of time and gradually build up playing time. Also, additional strain could result from a change in the nonmusical activities in your life. Everything from raking leaves to moving house can cause strains that affect your resilience and stamina for playing your instrument.
Pay attention to posture and technique. Be aware of the proper technique for your chosen instrument and check yourself in the mirror. You may be leaning to one side or slumping your shoulders without even realizing it. Also, pay attention to how you carry your instrument. Don’t carry it with only one hand or hang it from one shoulder. When hauling heavy equipment always use proper lifting techniques.
Relax. Tension, both physical and psychological, can lead to strain and injury. Excessive tension—pressing too hard on strings or gripping drumsticks too tightly—causes muscles to work harder than they need to. If the stress is psychological, consider a stress management program with biofeedback training.
The number one treatment for overuse injuries is rest. But, if pain persists it is best to consult a doctor who can diagnose your injury and suggest the best treatment options.