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 14, 2015IM -
by Janet Horvath, author of Playing (Less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians available at musicdispatch.com
Editor’s Note: In this article Janet Horvath suggests some stretches she devised to help musicians alleviate body stress. Always check with a physician before trying stretches, especially if you have an injury. Always stop any movement that causes pain.
When I was a young student I was criticized for moving too much when I played. “Don’t beat your foot! Don’t wiggle! It’s too distracting,” said my teachers. Unfortunately, these mantras were more important than just limiting comfort and self-expression. Although playing music is expressive and creative, we sought to quell the tendency to move and flow with the music. We were admonished to never “stick out.” As a result, we often sit like statues.
Studies today indicate that humans are born to move. Being static, still, and motionless is detrimental to our health. Static effort, or holding a position, is also much more strenuous on the body. Muscles tighten, blood flow is constricted, oxygen is not replenished, and waste products are not flushed out. Static positions make us tire sooner, and then we hurt. On the other hand, we can engage in a dynamic movement for a long time because blood is replenished with fresh oxygen.
There are unobtrusive ways to reduce tension build up and give our bodies mini breaks. I have devised a series of moves I call Onstage Tricks™ to alleviate tension even while performing. The essential guiding factor is to do the opposite motion of the positions we are required to hold while we play.
Sitting properly is the first step. Make sure that you are sitting in the optimum position for your height and instrument. Your chair should be high enough so that your knees are lower than your hips. If you are diminutive, sit forward so your feet don’t dangle. Your weight should be forward with a slight lumbar curve in your spine and feet flat on the ground. Keep your shoulders down and facing forward. Avoid turning or twisting your torso, leaning left or right.
Starting with those targeting the top of the body, try some of the following moves during practice or performance, or whenever you have a few bars of rest. These exercises are effective even if you only have time to do them once. However, if you are able to do them more than once, it’s all the better.
For the neck:
For shoulders and pectorals:
For the arms:
For the back, spine, and pelvis:
For the hips:
For healthy overall circulation:
Awareness is the key to injury prevention. These and many more “moves” for musicians are displayed in my book. Make up some of your own as well, with the goal of maintaining fluidity and ease, while avoiding tightness and tension. You’ll feel better and you’ll play better too.