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.
September 1, 2022IM -
Beyond its physical health benefits, yoga does wonders for stress, concentration, and even performance anxiety. There’s no need for pretzel-like contortions to reap the benefits. Movements are accessible and every pose can be modified for ease and comfort.
Performing creates stress, whether onstage or in an audition. Rehearsing for long periods, bending and stretching limbs at unnatural angles—standing and sitting for hours at a time—can become uncomfortable, if not downright painful. From carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, and lumbago to generalized lower back pain, musicians often play through the pain. But is it necessary?
What if you could decrease stress and pain, without sacrificing your ability to play music? Yoga might be the answer. It’s an ideal exercise to release tension while building strength. Through various postures, you can essentially scan your entire body, stretching, strengthening, and evaluating a multitude of muscles and joints that work together. It also trains you to breathe effectively through stress.
Yoga requires a quiet focus familiar to musicians. Unlike aerobic exercise, yoga is not ramping up your energy level, but slowly and steadily increasing strength through a series of movements. In addition to addressing issues stemming from repetitive stress and poor posture, yoga emphasizes concentration and focus, potentially easing anxiety and playing with deeper expression.
Through practice, you will be able to differentiate between finding a good challenge with a stretch and taking a risk with an advanced posture for which you are unprepared. The latter may cause pain or injury and should be avoided. For a practitioner just starting out, easy postures are just as effective as more intricate positions. Beginners should gradually build a repertoire of basic postures, establishing alignment and awareness of their breath. Technique and alignment are more important than trying to advance too quickly.
Consistency will yield the best results. Yoga can easily be part of your daily routine when you link it together with practicing. As little as a few minutes to warm up, cool down, or as a stretch break will be helpful. If you can incorporate a class even once a week—at home with a video or in a studio—the extended practice will make a difference to your posture and health.
Warrior II—This pose focuses on building lower body strength. When our lower bodies are stronger and our awareness shifts to our connection with the floor, we feel confident and minimize negative mental chatter. Musicians who feel nervous or suffer from performance fear and anxiety can benefit from Warrior II, through an increase in focus, strength, and calm.
Other physical benefits include strengthening larger muscles in the legs, such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip abductors. You are also stretching through hip flexors and adductors, common sites of stiffness in musicians who are seated for long periods of time.
Tree—Much like in Warrior II, emphasis is on the mind and body connection in this pose. However, the tree pose expects greater focus through balancing on one leg. Through this pose, we’re connecting to a visual focal point while strengthening the larger muscles in the body, such as abdominal and leg muscles.
Many musicians enjoy this pose because it also encourages good posture, from the top of the head to the tip of the standing leg’s big toe. Lives as musicians are busy. This allows you to slow down, focus on your breathing, and feel balanced.
Cat/Cow—Perhaps the most common physical complaint among musicians is that of back pain. These two poses, cat and cow, which are usually linked together in succession, allow you to flex and lengthen the entire spine. Throughout both poses, be sure to engage the abdominal muscles. This allows the back to move safely and feel supported, rather than relying on the overused spinal muscles.
Musicians with wrist sensitivities or fears of injuring this part of their body should choose to make fists with their hands rather than placing the palms flat to the mat or floor.