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Finding the Right Physical Therapist for Musicians

By Shmuel Tatz, P.T., Ph.D.

For musicians, professionally related physical trauma can be one of the worst kinds of trauma because working musicians can repetitively, step-by-step, hour-by-hour continue to damage their bodies.

Musicians’ injuries usually don’t happen overnight, and healing doesn’t happen in one day. It takes time. Injuries related to the music profession can become aggravated because they are generally related to overuse and are difficult to avoid.

It is the job of a good physical therapist to help a musician heal in the shortest amount of time because the next day he or she may be off to London, Moscow, or Tokyo. Whatever the case may be, working musicians must be in excellent physical condition.

I have been working with musicians for more then 30 years. Using a hands-on physical therapy method, I have learned to feel the musician’s pain so that I can help him or her heal as quickly as possible.

I also have learned that being a musician is not just a profession, it’s a lifestyle. In order to play, you have to be in top shape, but you have to be prepared for injuries as well. This means you must know how to find the right kind of physical therapist in whatever city you are playing, just in case treatment becomes necessary for the show to go on. To help I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions:

How severe can structural misalignments requiring physical therapy become?

Naturally, the worse the problems are, the longer it takes to correct them. And, as time goes by, the original problem can become worse and create secondary problems. For instance, when a vertebra moves out of place, the body tries to compensate. It gradually adapts so one or more vertebras are forced out of place in some other parts of the spine. What’s more, it is likely that the vertebrae have built up a resistance to change. It takes time and regular physical therapy to “re-educate” the vertebrae and get them to hold their proper position.

How long should treatments last?

It’s impossible to answer this question simply. It depends on your specific problem and on the severity of your condition. And, of course, it also depends on the physical therapist’s education and experience. An experienced therapist who has worked with musicians can achieve positive results in 20 minutes, while a therapist with less experience may take 90 minutes to achieve the same results.

How rapidly will my body react to corrective physical therapy?

Healing time differs with each individual. It is possible that your symptoms will disappear shortly after you begin physical therapy. But healing and rehabilitation involve not only relief of symptoms but, more importantly, correction of the underlying cause. It’s a mistake to assume you are well just because your pain or symptoms are gone. Until the cause of your condition has been fully corrected, you should never stop physical therapy.

Always follow your physical therapist’s instructions carefully. He or she usually can estimate the minimum time and number of treatments it will take for any given condition to heal. Give yourself time, even if it seems longer than you hoped for. Remember, that complete cooperation with the therapist’s recommendations is the best way to shorten the time it takes to regain your health.

How can I find the right physical therapist?

One way to find a good practitioner is to ask your colleagues because you might have a physical problem someone you know has or used to have. A good physical therapist should give you some improvement even at your first session.

I believe that manual therapy is the cornerstone of good physical therapy, so a good therapist will combine manual therapy with other appropriate treatments, such as laser therapy or auricular therapy. While physical therapists can accomplish quite a bit using their hands alone, the added dimension of machines and exercises create a therapeutic counterpoint with many possibilities. Think of combined therapy like this: a violin solo is lovely, but add a cello and a piano, and you may have something extraordinary!

It is crucial that a musician get his or her main instrument–the body–checked out and tuned up from time to time, before minor issues have a chance to become serious problems.

–Shmuel Tatz is a Licensed Physical Therapist. Learn more at www.tatzstudio.net.

Boston Local 9-535, Getting Results

Boston Local 9-535, Getting Results

This month, as a part of my series highlighting the outstanding legislative work being accomplished across the Federation, I am honored to shine the spotlight on AFM Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) and its president, Patrick Hollenbeck. Boston, Massachusetts, sits atop global cultural centers as one of the world’s most revered and respected music destinations. For centuries, the Boston arts community has been responsible for innovative musical concepts that have generated new audiences and work opportunities for Boston musicians.

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TEMPO: One of the AFM’s Most Effective Advocacy Tools

The Taskforce for Employment of Musicians Promotional Organization (TEMPO) was established in 1961 when the AFM was steeped in legislative battles over copyright, the Cabaret Tax, and royalty distribution, which followed prior legislative battles over the LEA Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and a host of other federal legislative initiatives. The need to help AFM-friendly federal legislators stay in Washington, DC, to continue the fight on behalf of professional musicians remains essential to our existence. TEMPO is one of the most recognized and highly respected bipartisan labor affiliated political action committees in Washington, DC. Because of the relevant successes that the AFM Office of Government Relations and the fund have accomplished, these important internal institutions have served to provide high quality, added value to your AFM membership.

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Rock-N-Roller Multi-Cart

Rock-N-Roller Multi-Cart

Rock-N-Roller Multi-CartJust in time for the festival season, Rock-N-Roller Multi-Cart announces the arrival of R16RT and R18RT Ground Glider Multi-Carts for rough terrain. They feature extra-wide (six by three-inch) front casters with brakes, eight by three-inch wide (R16RT) or 10 by three-inch (R18RT) rear casters, and large frame tubing. They have weight capacities of up to 600 lbs. (R16RT) and  700lbs. (R18RT) to make transporting heavy loads of gear over difficult terrain—grass, sand, dirt, gravel, and soft carpeting—easier than ever. Both carts transform into eight different configurations for flexibility in getting your gear where it needs to go.


AFM Sues Studios over Illegal Reuse of Soundtrack Clips

The AFM is suing six major studios (Columbia, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner Brothers) for reusing film soundtrack clips in other films and television programs without appropriately compensating musicians.

“Our agreements obligate the studios to make additional payments to musicians when soundtracks are reused and AFM members are entitled to receive the benefit of that bargain,” says AFM President Ray Hair. “Our efforts to resolve these contract violations and missing payments have been unproductive, so we are looking to the courts for relief.”

The lawsuit cites numerous examples of the studios violating their collective bargaining agreements by reusing film scores without paying musicians including:

  • Columbia using music from Karate Kid in an episode of the television series Happy Endings;
  • Disney using music from Beauty and the Beast and The Muppet Movie in the television series The Neighbors;
  • Fox using music from Titanic in the film This Means War;
  • Paramount using music from Up in the Air in the film Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story;
  • Universal using music from Bourne Identity in the television series The Office; and
  • Warner Brothers using music from Battle for the Planet of the Apes in the film Argo.

In the lawsuit the AFM is seeking damages for all losses, including prejudgment interest. You can read the entire complaint on the AFM website.

mptf music performance trust fund

MPTF Implements New Online Grant System

As of May 1, the  new Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) grant application management system will be fully operational. The online system has been  ramping up over the past several months in order to provide greater security, less maintenance, and a much more cost-effective process for providing funding for free live performances throughout the US and Canada.

mptf music performance trust fundCoinciding with the beginning of the MPTF’s fiscal year, grant applications will now only be accepted through the new system. No mailed, faxed, or e-mailed applications will be accepted. However, applicants and grant coordinators can seek assistance from MPTF through Vidrey Blackburn (vblackburn@musicpf.org) or Samantha Ramos (sramos@musicpf.org) by e-mail. They are happy to answer questions and provide guidance in using the new system.

This past November, every local was sent an e-mail and password for the new application management system. If your local representative coordinating MPTF grant applications does not know the log in e-mail address and password, please contact us.

As the MPTF closes its books for the fiscal year (May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015), all “Page 2” submissions to verify the completion of performances must be submitted by May 8. Any late submissions of Page 2s for this past year, received after May 8, will be canceled. Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact MPTF.

The staff at the MPTF is taking every precaution to integrate this new system as comfortably and as easily as possible. They hope to continue to improve the new system as everyone becomes more familiar and experienced with the process.

International Musician Print Edition Is Valued

International Musician Print Edition Is Valued

One of the first things I did in 2005, as the incoming AFM Secretary-Treasurer was to take inventory of the responsibilities of the position. I did this, of course, by reading the AFM Bylaws. The Secretary-Treasurer is also the publisher of the International Musician (IM). The IM is the official means of communication between the Federation and its members. All official business is put forth in this publication.

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