John R. Beck is a percussionist, faculty member at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, and President of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS). Earlier this year, John wrote an article that was published in “Rhythm Scene,” the PAS newsletter. In the article, Beck discusses recent experiments that aim to measure sound levels in various musical environments, and provides information on earplug effectiveness and options. Ultimately, he calls for percussionists and all musicians to be proactive about their hearing health, and provides some useful links for additional resources.Read More
Are you stressed? Do you have trouble getting to sleep? Are you in pain? Music can be used to address all of these issues, as well as many others. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) developed and recently launched a Music and Wellness website…Read More
Recently the League of American Orchestras announced the recipients of 22
Education and Community Investment Grants from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. Applicants for the re-granting program came from every orchestra budget group. The initial 204 applicants were narrowed by an independent advisory panel to 44 semi-finalists; all were then judged on six criteria: the degree of innovation and relevance to community needs; the orchestra’s capacity to deliver; the of the program appropriateness to mission and community; the appropriateness and strength of partnership(s); the ability to assess outcomes; and professional development for musicians and staff.
According to the League’s press release, “A prerequisite for qualifying orchestras was the existence of partnerships with local cultural and/or community organizations, such as schools or social service providers. This year’s grants … will fund both new and established innovative programs including: long-term in-school partnerships and afterschool programs; health and wellness initiatives in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes; and programs for the underserved and underprivileged, including incarcerated youth.Read More
I met Dr. Lisa Wong at the airport in Dallas, returning from the 2012 League of American Orchestras conference. At the check-in counter, I discovered that she was flying to Boston on the same plane, so I asked her which orchestra she was with. When I learned that she played with the Longwood Symphony, I mentioned that I had heard that someone in her orchestra had written a book about it, and could she put me in touch with the author. She unzipped her suitcase and pulled out a copy of her book, “Scales to Scalpels.” And it turns out that she lives quite close to my mother – she and her husband, Lynn Chang, dropped me off, saving me a late-night trolley ride. What an interesting set of coincidences!
Lisa’s book is a fascinating account of the formation and work of the Longwood Symphony, her own passage through music and medicine, and lots of information about the powerful healing aspects of music. She discusses her trips to Venezuela with her daughter as part of her experiences with El Sistema, and gives us lots of information about how the ear works and how the brain processes information and music.
But most importantly, she tells us stories that inspire: about Ruth, who was awakened from a catatonic state by a therapist’s turning on the local classical music station; about the children at the burn center who were so inspired by the famous violinist who himself had survived a terrible fire as a child; about the medical musicians, all with relatives suffering from Alzheimer’s, who were amazed at the reaction to their playing for a group of Alzheimer’s patients. Lisa’s book will truly reinforce your perceptions of the power of music to heal.
Lisa came to Hartford recently to give a presentation at the Medical Society of Hartford about her book and to talk about the many connections between music and medicine. She played a few movements from the Third Bach Suite on her viola during her presentation. The doctors in attendance were rapt, both to listen to her music and to hear her words. I’ve adapted passages from her book, her remarks in Hartford, and our subsequent conversation into an interview about the Longwood Symphony.Read More
Janet Horvath has revised her book, Playing (less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians, and the new edition is now available. Janet has updated the book and added 100 pages to include new information for educators and training, information for jazzers and rock musicians, new ergonomic products, an extensive hearing chapter, new photos and much more. Polyphonic is pleased to excerpt a section on static loading and the fatigue that muscles endure (and the damage that can be done) with prolonged periods of static positions.
I wish every conductor out there would read the first few paragraphs of this excerpt and adjust their rehearsal schedules accordingly! Janet provides invaluable tips for alleviating some of the pains associated with playing prolonged soft and slow passages, as well other posture issues.
Janet’s book received the Gold Medal in the 2009 Independent Book Publisher National Awards in the health category. Congratulations, Janet! For more information, click here.
Janet has graciously offered a 15% discount to registered Polyphonic readers. Ordering details are at the end of this article.Read More
My college friend and ROPA colleague, Sherill Roberts, has been telling me about Barbara Conable for many years. Sherill is a cellist who had to overcome some pretty serious health issues in her past, and thus she is particularly attuned to the needs of her body in terms of movement. She recently became certified to teach the Andover Educator Body Mapping course, and suggested that I contact Amy Likar, who has taken over as the group leader now that Barbara Conable has semi-retired.
Amy explains what Body Mapping is and how it can help your playing, and then presents a fascinating and inspiring interview she conducted with Barbara.Read More
Janet Horvath, Minnesota Orchestra cellist, offers some sensible guidelines for how to achieve new goals with our instruments without hurting our bodies doing so.Read More
Janet Horvath, Minnesota Orchestra cellist, offers some simple techniques — her “Onstage Tricks” — for keeping you limber while performing. It’s all too frequent that nerves or an upcoming solo or a repetitive passage can cause us to tense up, often without realizing it. Here are several easy methods for relieving that stress.Read More
One of our most precious assets, as musicians, is our hearing, yet we are constantly endangering our hearing merely by going to work. Janet Horvath, Minnesota Orchestra cellist, describes some of the most common hearing injuries and offers some excellent advice as to what you can do to protect your hearing.Read More
Among every musician’s worst fear is the loss of hearing – we all cringe when we think of Beethoven’s hearing loss and his having to be turned around to see the audience reaction to one of his symphony premiers. Age naturally brings on some hearing loss, especially in men, but there are things we can do to actively protect our hearing. Janet Horvath presents 10 solid strategies (did you know that humming can help prevent that cymbal crash behind you from harming your hearing?) to help you keep your hearing at peak for as long as possible.Read More