Backed by the latest research, composer Barry Goldstein shares how every one of us can harness the power of music to dissolve creative blocks, reverse negative mindsets and attitudes, alleviate ailments, and improve overall health. The book offers practical tips and instructions that can be tailored to individual needs. The Secret Language of the Heart: How to Use Music, Sound, and Vibration as Tools for Healing and Personal Transformation, by Barry Goldstein, Hicrophant Publishing, www.hierophantpublishing.com.
Tag Archives: tips
Audio Made Easy, or How to Be a Sound Engineer Without Really Trying, 5th Edition
A concise and comprehensive guide to audio and recording equipment and techniques, Audio Made Easy contains everything you need and nothing you don’t. Author Ira White, shares more than 35 years of recording studio experience, providing real-world solutions and tips that show results. He delves into often-misunderstood details of digital mixers, EQ, speaker specifics, and recording techniques using easy-to-understand language. The book also contains access to online demonstration audio tracks.
Audio Made Easy, or How to Be a Sound Engineer Without Really Trying, 5th Edition, by Ira White, Hal Leonard, www.halleonard.com.
A Drug-Free Way to a Pain-Free Back
by Marc Brodsky, MD, and Craig Holiday Haynes
Chronic lower back pain may be the result of trauma or repetitive overuse injuries of the spine, intervertebral discs, ligaments, joint capsules, and muscles. Posture and psychological stress may also contribute. In a musician, lower back pain can be debilitating, interfering or worsening with activities related to playing an instrument.
While narcotic (opioid) pain medications can make life more comfortable, they come with inherent risks: accidental overdose, risk of dependence and addiction, side effects (sedation, dizziness, nausea, constipation, respiratory depression, etc.), and the need for increasingly stronger doses. In October 2017, the US President directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. It is important to explore alternative treatments before turning to prescription drugs.
One 52-year-old jazz drummer developed lower back pain after a motorcycle accident. He described shooting pains in his legs that interfered with his ability to play drums and to go on tour. An MRI revealed a herniated disc in his lower back. After disc surgery, the pain that traveled to his legs improved, but he continued to have pain across his lower back. The drummer got relief from his pain with trigger point injections, along with acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage treatments. He treated pain flare-ups with a self-care program that included acupressure and swimming exercises.
Integrative Medicine Approach
Drug-free treatments to activate natural healing and restore resiliency may relieve pain and suffering and optimize quality of life. Self-care nonpharmaceutical treatments and techniques without side effects or risk of addiction are particularly important for performers.
Myofascial trigger points are irritated spots in the fascia surrounding skeletal muscle. These small patches of clenched muscle fibres are sensitive and cause aching and stiffness. They often are a major factor in common problems like lower back pain and neck pain. Most minor trigger points are self-treatable.
Pain Relief Through Acupressure Points
Acupressure points take advantage of the body’s natural muscle relaxant and stress reliever. Since acupressure points and trigger points in the muscles overlap, you may get relief from your pain by utilizing exercises that press acupressure points in your back and legs. Try the exercises below for relief of lower back pain.
Place two tennis balls in a stocking and press them against a wall with your back using the weight of the body. Press for the duration of about 15 seconds, one to three times per day.
Press your finger into a point at the bottom part of the calf muscle.
Press each of the acupressure points for the duration of three relaxing breaths (about 15 seconds), one to three times each day. If lower back pain persists, see a medical professional.
10 Tips To Reduce Back Pain
1) Maintain a healthy weight.
2) Regularly take part in exercises
that strengthen your back and
3) Lift your equipment properly—always bending your knees and squatting to pick up heavy items.
4) Know your limits and don’t be shy about asking for help.
5) Use good posture throughout
6) Stretch your muscles.
7) Don’t carry a briefcase or heavy purse long distances as it changes your balance. Instead, use a
8) Make sure your mattress is firm enough to support your back.
Soft mattresses can push it out
9) Get plenty of sleep.
10) Quit smoking.
As always, if back pain continues, see a specialist.
A Guide to Easy Border Crossing
Touring requires preparation and organization. One element of touring that demands much of both is border crossing. Crossing a border to work in a foreign country can be nerve-wracking and difficult, if you are not prepared. With thorough preparation you can ensure easy border crossings while on tour.
The first consideration should be work permits. Every foreign artist who performs in the US is required to have a temporary work visa. I highly recommend the P-2 Visa, which can be processed through the Canadian Federation of Musicians (http://www.cfmusicians.org/services/work-
permits). When making your initial entry into the US, you will need to carry the USCIS approval notice (or a copy). If band members are entering the country separately, everyone should have their own copy.
Make sure that all of your travel documents are in order. All passports must be valid at least six months beyond the last performance date. If you do not hold a Canadian or US passport, you will also be required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp), to fly into Canada. Other countries require all foreign passports to be valid for a certain number of months from the date of entry or planned exit. Look into the requirements for each country you intend to visit.
If crossing by land, you may need to show vehicle ownership; if travelling by air, you will need to show a return ticket. You may be asked to show proof of accommodation and/or proof that you can support yourself while in a foreign country. If you are a parent travelling with a child, you will need written travel permission from any other guardian or parent.
Also, before traveling, look into any possible issues of criminality. Any prior conviction, however minor, can cause problems at the border and should be dealt with well in advance with either a waiver of ineligibility or a criminal rehabilitation application.
You must also plan for transporting equipment and merchandise. Understand the border restrictions in relation to prohibited goods or substances. If you are travelling with instruments and other gear, consider applying for an ATA Carnet, a document that can minimize hassles and fees at the border (www.chamber.ca/carnet). In the absence of an ATA Carnet, have a complete inventory with you. Whenever possible, include descriptions, serial numbers, purchase dates, and values. Having your gear organized in numbered cases will make it much easier when border officials need to check the gear.
Be aware of restrictions on crossing a border with instruments containing endangered species. There’s no point in risking confiscation of your gear. Check out the Musical Instrument Passport program (www.fws.gov/international/permits/by-activity/musical-instruments.html).
If you are flying, make sure you know the airline’s rules and regulations for transporting instruments. Invest in high-quality cases to protect them from damage.
If you are carrying merchandise, be sure to declare it and make sure it is properly labelled or properly stickered (for promotional copies). Have the invoice of manufacture with you. Keep in mind the option of sending merchandise via courier or mail, or having it manufactured in the country to which you are touring. For large quantities of merchandise, use a customs broker.
Finally, consider your strategy for interacting with border crossing officials. Appearances are important. You need to look and sound like you are a law-abiding citizen, respectful of authority, who poses absolutely no risk. Turn off the radio or iPad, remove ear buds and sunglasses. If crossing by land, your vehicle should reflect this as well—neat and clean. Rehearse straightforward answers to typical questions you might be asked by officials. Coach everyone in your group to be honest and forthright, and to answer questions succinctly without volunteering additional information.
With sufficient knowledge and preparation, border crossing can be simple.
Robert Baird is President of Baird Artists Management Consulting and an expert in international touring. Involved in the performing arts for more than 50 years, he was president of NAPAMA, and Treasurer of FEO. He is currently president of OAPN and APAP Showcase Coordinator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ludwig Milde: 25 Studies in Scales and Chords for Bassoon Op. 24
A staple of the bassoon’s pedagogical literature, Ludwig Milde’s 25 Studies, Op. 24 was previously available only in uncorrected editions lacking content beyond the etudes themselves. This book provides corrected engraving, plus extensive coaching and insights into each study with tips on facility from bassoonists Benjamin Kamins of Locals 65-699 (Houston, TX) and 99 (Portland, OR), professor of Bassoon at Rice University, and William Short of Local 802 (New York City), Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal bassoon.
Ludwig Milde: 25 Studies in Scales and Chords for Bassoon Op. 24,
edited and annotated by Benjamin Kamins and William Short,
Theodore Presser Company, www.presser.com.
When Vertigo Rocks Your World
Vertigo is a tilting, spinning sensation of being off-balance. You may feel like the world is spinning around you even when you are standing perfectly still. Vertigo symptoms are caused by a disturbance to equilibrium, and may be accompanied by nausea and headache. More than 2 million people visit their doctors each year complaining of dizziness or vertigo, and while it’s generally a harmless symptom, you can imagine how it could be debilitating and stop a performer in her tracks.
To better understand the cause of vertigo you need to look at the anatomy and function of the ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear canal until they reach the eardrum. There, sound is turned into vibrations, which are transmitted through the inner ear via three small bones (the incus, malleus, and stapes) to the cochlea, and finally to the vestibular nerve, which carries the signal to the brain. A collection of semicircular canals (canalis) positioned at right angles to each other inside the inner ear act like a gyroscope for the body. These canals, combined with sensitive hair cells within the canals, provide us feedback regarding our position in space. When there is a disturbance in this system, it can cause vertigo.
Common Types and Causes of Vertigo
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This type of vertigo is caused by tiny calcium particles (canaliths) that clump in the canals of the inner ear, which sends signals to the brain about movements relative to gravity to keep your balance. This type of vertigo is most commonly felt when tilting the head or climbing in and out of bed.
- Meniere’s disease: This inner ear disorder is thought to be caused by a buildup of fluid, which alters the pressure in the ear. Along with vertigo, symptoms can include ringing in the ear (tinnitus) and hearing loss.
- Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis: This inner ear problem is caused by an infection (usually viral). The infection inflames the inner ear around the nerves that are important for helping the body sense its balance.
Less frequent causes of vertigo include head or neck injury, brain problems (stroke or tumor), certain medications, and migraine headaches. In many cases vertigo will go away with no treatment. When necessary, what treatment is used depends on the cause of the vertigo.
- Canalith repositioning maneuvers: Performing a series of specific head and body movements can relieve the symptoms of BPPV by shifting the calcium deposits out of the ear canal and into an inner ear chamber where they can be absorbed by the body. While the movements are safe and effective, you may need a doctor or physical therapist to teach you the techniques. Also, if you are uncertain which ear is affected your doctor can let you know.
—Epley maneuver is the most common, and provides relief to 90% of BPPV sufferers.
1) Sit on the side of your bed. Turn your head 45 degrees to the side of the affected ear (not as far as your shoulder).
2) Quickly lie down on your back, with your head on the bed (still at a 45-degree angle). Place a pillow under you so it rests between your shoulders rather than under your head. Wait 30 seconds.
3) Turn your head halfway 90 degrees in the opposite direction without raising it. Wait 30 seconds.
4) Turn your head and body on its side in the same direction, so you are looking at the floor. Wait 30 seconds.
5) Sit up slowly but remain on the bed for a few minutes.
6) Repeat before going to bed each night until you’ve gone 24 hours without dizziness.
—Half somersault or Foster maneuver
1) Kneel down and look up at the ceiling for a few seconds.
2) Touch the floor with your head, tucking your chin so your head goes toward your knees. Wait about 30 seconds or until any vertigo stops.
3) Turn your head toward the affected ear. Wait 30 seconds.
4) Quickly raise your head so it’s level with your back while you’re on all fours. Keep your head at that 45-degree angle. Wait 30 seconds.
5) Quickly raise your head so its fully upright, but keep your head turned to the shoulder of the side you’re working on. Then slowly stand up.
6) Repeat this a few times for relief, resting for 15 minutes in between.
- Vestibular rehabilitation: This physical therapy may be recommended by your physician if you have recurring vertigo. It is aimed at helping to strengthen the vestibular system and its function in sending signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity.
- Medication: In cases where vertigo is caused by an infection or inflammation, antibiotics or steroids may reduce swelling and cure the infection. For Meniere’s disease, diuretics may be prescribed to reduce fluid build-up pressure. In some cases, medications are taken to relieve the nausea associated with vertigo.
Occasionally vertigo can be a symptom of a more serious problem. It’s always advisable to visit your physician when you are experiencing any medical condition.
Protect Your Union Against National Right to Work
by Todd Jelen, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator, Organizer, Educator
“Right to work” laws may soon be coming to every state in the union. On February 1, Representative Steve King (R-IA) introduced a bill crafted by the National Right to Work Foundation that would make private sector workplaces in every state right to work. This means that employees would receive the benefits of collective bargaining without being required to be union members. In addition, the bill would alter the Railway Labor Act, making railway and airline jobs right to work, which will not only affect our brothers and sisters in those industries, but could possibly make our airlines and rail systems less safe. The arguments against right to work have been well documented in the International Musician over the past few months. I would like to discuss what each of us can do to fight against the effects of these laws and to grow our power in the face of coming adversity. Following are a few simple things you can do to prepare your contracts.
1) Negotiate multi-year contracts before the law takes effect. Contracts in place when the law takes effect will be enforced (including the union security clause) for the life of the agreement. Use this time to organize and get ready for the future.
2) Don’t eliminate union security clauses. Despite what management may assert, retaining your current union security clause is not illegal; these clauses are just unenforceable. In the event right to work legislation is later repealed, your union security clause will once again come into effect.
3) Don’t alter work dues check-off language or forms. Management often tries to convince the union that dues check-off is a part of right to work. Dues check-off is, instead, governed by several National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases and is unaffected by right to work legislation. Management acts only as a pass-through for dues remitted pursuant to an agreement between the union and its members.
4) Maintain the role of the union as exclusive bargaining agent. Management may attempt to dilute this role through “artistic policy” committees or through musician representatives to symphony boards. By discussing wages, hours, and conditions of work under the guise of “artistic policy” or board privilege, they hope to circumvent the union and its agents, the orchestra committee. Don’t agree to provisions in your contract that would overempower these committees. Be vigilant of management pressuring musicians who serve on committees into overstepping their roles.
In addition to the above precautions, the single best practice against right to work has always been to organize your members. For those of us currently in free bargaining states, it is time to start analyzing your workplaces for possible fault lines. You should have an accurate idea of what everyone’s issues and concerns in the workplace are so you can effectively address them all. Create short and long-term plans to realize each issue and include members in their planning and execution.
As we analyze our workplaces, we must also analyze ourselves. Do we truly hear others’ opinions or do we brush them off? Do we include minority opinions in our conversations, or do we push on without regard to them? Organizing is difficult and takes time to do effectively. Well-meaning advocates can often perpetuate the very divides we are trying to heal when they cut corners. We can only engage everyone in the process when all are heard and given an opportunity to participate. Inclusion leads to ownership, which leads to solidarity and true power to fight for our interests in the workplace!
For those of us already in right to work states, this may seem like business as usual, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many cases in process that seek to challenge, as well as to expand, right to work laws and national right to work may be ineffective for some time, pending the outcomes. In addition, you are about to see your brothers and sisters in free bargaining states come together to combat right to work. Now is your time to join their call to action to bring the fight to all 50 states. If we all work together, we can improve our circumstances no matter what congress and corporate interests try to impose on our workplace democracy!
Malware and Ransomware Protection Tips
by Walter Lopez, AFM Information Systems Manager
It is becoming more common for businesses to be affected by malware and ransomware, and musicians are not immune. Recently, several orchestras have experienced data breaches of employee databases. Malware is any software intended to damage or disable a computer or other software programs. Ransomware is a type of malware that stops you from using your PC by holding your PC or files for “ransom.” Following are a few tips from Microsoft to help you avoid becoming a ransomware or malware victim.
What does ransomware do?
There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your computer normally, and they will all ask you to do something (pay a “ransom”) to remedy the situation. They can target any user—home computers, endpoints to enterprise networks, or servers used by anyone from a small company to a government agency. Well-known cases include: Los Angeles Valley College, which paid $28,000 in bitcoin ransom; Carleton University in Ontario, which paid about $39,000 in bitcoin ransom, and San Francisco’s light rail transit system, which was able to restore its system without paying.
Specifically, ransomware can prevent you from accessing Windows, encrypt your files so that you cannot use them, and can stop certain applications (like web browsers) from running on your system. The hackers behind the ransomware may demand you pay money or complete a survey. However, there is no guarantee that after you’ve paid your ransom you will regain full access.
How does ransomware get on a PC?
Ransomware and other malware can arrive through your email. Malware authors often use tricks to try to convince you to download malicious files. This can be an email with a file attached that tells you it is a receipt, refund, or an invoice. When you open the attachment, you install malware on your PC.
Sometimes a malicious email is easy to spot—it may have bad spelling and grammar, or come from an email address you’ve never seen before. However, these emails can also look like they came from someone you know. Some malware hacks into email accounts and sends malicious spam to the contacts it finds.
To help avoid becoming a victim of email fraud and malware, follow these tips:
- If you aren’t sure who sent you the email or something doesn’t look quite right, don’t open it.
- If an email says you have to update your details, don’t click on the link in the email.
- Don’t open an attachment to an email that you aren’t expecting, or that was sent by someone you don’t know.
- Never give out personal information in an email, no matter how legitimate the source may seem.
Malware worms can spread by infecting removable drives such as USB flash drives or external hard drives. The malware may be automatically installed when you connect the infected drive to your PC. Some worms can also spread by infecting computers that are connected on a network.
To avoid this type of infection:
- Run a security scan of your removable devices.
- Disable the autorun function.
Some malware is installed along with programs that you download. This includes software from third-party websites or files shared through peer-to-peer networks. Some programs will also install other unwanted software such as tool bars or programs that display extra ads as you browse the web. Usually you can opt-out and not install these extra applications by unticking a box during the installation.
Programs used to generate software keys (keygens) often install malware at the same time. Microsoft security software finds malware on more than half of PCs with keygens installed.
- To avoid installing malware or unwanted software:
- Always download software from the official vendor’s website.
- Make sure you read exactly what you are installing—don’t just click OK.
- In many cases, Malware uses known software vulnerabilities to infect your PC through hacked or compromised webpages. A vulnerability is like a hole in your software that can allow malware to access your PC. These vulnerabilities are fixed by the company that created the software and are sent as updates to be installed. This is why it’s extremely important to keep all your software up-to-date, and remove software you don’t use.
For more information visit the website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/portal/mmpc/default.aspx.
Proper Playing Position Is Key to Comfort and Injury Prevention in Strings
by Claire Stefani
Playing any instrument means moving a lot. Musicians make a number of physical adjustments to play, often at the expense of optimal body mechanics. Given the asymmetric position of playing a violin or viola, properly fitted ergonomic solutions are critical to a healthy body and optimized posture. It is important to find the appropriate equipment for your body and periodically check that it’s still the best solution for you. Here are some tips from a chinrest fitting expert.
Head Balance—Keeping the head balanced and free to move is critical. Chinrest height should permit the head to rest in a neutral position at the low point of nodding “yes,” but free to move laterally (shaking the head “no”). Some chinrests provide ergonomic benefits such as additional height or left/right tilt. Some custom models allow musicians to lower their instrument and rest it partly on the collarbone in a neutral head position.
Arm Balance—If not supported by the torso muscles, arms will hang and pull the instrument downward. If a musician is not keenly aware of back and shoulder muscles, especially in the development of arm support, any attempt to adjust the chin/shoulder rest setup to counterbalance this downward weight will only put more stress on the head and left shoulder. Also, work at allowing the shoulder blade to immediately follow the humerus while shifting and bowing—similar to how the femur swings freely from the hip joint when walking.
Instrument Position—Up or down, in or out, is an individual preference. The chinrests or shoulder rests should not dictate instrument position. By allowing the instrument to lean on the collarbone, instead of only on the left shoulder, you are less likely to clench, and will have more freedom in the left shoulder, as well as in the bow arm.
Shoulder Rests—Once the head is balanced, muscular work is redistributed throughout the torso to better support arm weight, and the left shoulder is relieved from its static role, you can determine what equipment, if any, to use under the instrument. A shoulder rest can result in overall stiffening of the entire left shoulder, but playing without one can lead to distress throughout the upper body. Changes may need to be progressive. Keep in mind:
- If a shoulder rest is too squishy, it may encourage clenching.
- Models designed to lean just below the contour of the collarbone prevent downward pressure over the left shoulder.
- Anti-slip surfaces may add to comfort, especially when shifting to and from high positions.
Seating—Much of your playing is likely done sitting. Wedges, pads, and stools mounted on a convex base allow a slight pelvic tilt resulting in psoas muscle release. This pelvic tilt will improve awareness of balance around your lumbar core and address lower back pain linked to postural issues or ill-fitted chinrest/shoulder rest setups.
Listen to Your Body—Pain or fatigue often come from muscle tension. It is important to identify any postural imbalance in playing position (versus neutral position)—leading muscles to sustain a static position, instead of contributing to movement. Say “No!” to the mantra “no pain, no gain.” Pain only leads to injury!
Claire Stefani is a fitter for the Frisch and Denig chinrest line, she has helped more than 400 musicians with their setup. She is founder of Volute Service International and amateur chamber music violist and violinist in New York City, an affiliate Andover trainee, and an active member of the Performing Arts Medicine Association.
Relieving Hand Pain: A Drummer’s Story
by Dr. Marc Brodsky, Dr. John (Jack) Dowdle, Michele Lenes, and Joseph Corsello
Repetitive use injuries, particularly in the hands, are common for instrumentalists. Hand pain can be a result of many different ailments and musicians seeking treatment should be cautious.
Diagnoses should always be made by medical professionals. A team approach, especially consultation with specialists in musician injuries, can often provide the best treatment options. As pain can often have more than one cause, you should consider the possibility of following more than one treatment option.
A 69-year-old professional jazz drummer had pain, accompanied by numbness and tingling, in both hands and could not bend his fingers. He experienced moderate aching pain and difficulty holding his sticks both while practicing (two to three hours a day) and during two or three gigs a week. The pain was relieved by rest and breaks from drumming, though he sometimes woke up at night with a burning pain in both hands.
A rheumatologist originally diagnosed the problems as psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease of the joints and skin. Powerful medications did not improve his condition and the pain proved debilitating. An MRI then revealed osteoarthritis resulting from overuse and general wear-and-tear of the joints.
An exam by an orthopedic hand specialist included observation of the musician playing the drums, which showed bone deformity and swelling around the middle joints of the fingers. Because the musician also had stiffness, numbness, and tingling the physician used Tinel’s test—tapping his wrists near the palm of his hands—and detected possible nerve compression in the carpal tunnel.
In the end, a hand specialist, occupational hand therapist, and integrative medicine pain management specialist were all enlisted as part of the drummer’s comprehensive treatment program.
The orthopedic hand specialist fitted the musician with hand splints for use at night, while the occupational therapist began hand therapy twice a week. Sessions included a paraffin wax dip and moist heat packs, hand massage to decrease swelling and improve mobility of the fingers, and gentle manipulation of the wrist, hands, and fingers. In addition, the therapist applied joint distractions (gentle pulling of the affected fingers). The drummer was taught hand-strengthening exercises to prevent pain recurrence.
The integrative medicine pain management specialist performed acupuncture once a week for four weeks, gradually reducing the treatment as the musician felt relief. Treatment focused on strategic points in the neck, arms, and hands. Acupuncture is not for everyone, however studies have shown it may restore resiliency by improving circulation and reducing muscle tension and inflammation around the placement of the needles. (Always consult with your primary care physician, and find a licensed practitioner with appropriate training and credentials.)
The integrative medicine physician recommended natural anti-inflammatories, namely ginger and curcumin (found in the Indian spice turmeric). In addition, topical capsaicin, a highly purified, heat-producing component in chili peppers, was applied to the top of the hands once a day. According to the clinical studies, capsaicin depletes the amount of substance P neurotransmitter that sends pain messages to the brain.
The Moeller Technique
The drummer modified his hand technique using the Moeller method. This technique uses gravity to do most of the work, emphasizing hand speed, power, and stick control, as well as the complete relaxation of the hand and arm muscles. Enlisting a strong downward whipping motion, the musician transitioned from pressing or gripping the drumstick predominately with the forefinger and thumb of the left hand down to the little finger. With this approach, the fulcrum is the back of the hand, allowing the other fingers to curl gently around the drumstick. This technique took pressure off the middle joints of the drummer’s hands, decreasing the risk of injury.
By employing the above treatments and techniques, the musician had dramatic relief of his hand pain, numbness, and tingling within four weeks. In addition, he had less swelling and was able to move his fingers with greater ease. Not only that, he experienced a higher degree of function, improved sound, and an overall sense of wellness.
Marc Brodsky, MD; John (Jack) Dowdle, MD; and Michele Lenes, OTR/L, are part of the Musicians’ Wellness Clinic in the Stamford Health System and are 2017 members in good standing of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA).