Health and Wellbeing
As the relatively new discipline of Performing Arts Medicine continues to evolve, so awareness of the risks to mental and physical health and well-being faced by performing artists, increases.
Life as a performer is mentally and physically demanding, with the majority of problems reported as musculoskeletal, but other issues relating to vocalisation, breathing, embouchure, hearing, and vision are not uncommon. Many musicians are affected to a greater or lesser extent, by anxiety and depression.
Most problems develop over time, usually as a result of a complex interaction of many factors which vary from person to person, and more often than not, without the individual’s awareness. As well as impacting on health and well-being, such problems can also place limits on an individual’s achievements both in music and in other aspects of everyday life. For instance, many musicians experience technical difficulties or find that they cannot improve beyond a certain level of skill. However, given appropriate and timely advice and support, the majority of problems are not only treatable, but preventable.
There is a small group of experts at the Conservatoire which can help students overcome and prevent difficulties relating to practice and performance, and thus achieve their full potential as musicians and in other aspects of their lives.
We are committed to supporting your progress at the Conservatoire through the Alexander Technique. By bringing about an improvement in balance and co-ordination, the Technique offers a practical means for personal change. Through a series of classes and individual lessons run by Alison Loram and Roy Thompson you'll be provided with a firm grounding in the principles of the Technique and how to apply them to your practice and performance and many other aspects of your everyday life.
Classes and lessons in the Alexander Technique can help improve vocal and instrumental skills and prevent or address problems of performance.More about the Alexander Technique
Student Advocate Scheme
Research has shown that the incidence of performance-related problems is highest among students. Therefore, in association with the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), Birmingham Conservatoire is participating in the Student Advocate Scheme (SAS). Initiated in 2011 at the University of Leeds Music Department, the Scheme aims to reduce the number of music students affected by performance-related problems and the associated isolation that students can sometimes experience.
The Advocate is a volunteer student who works to promote awareness of health and well-being issues and improve education and available resources. He/she cannot give health advice but is available to discuss in confidence, performance-related concerns, and direct them to appropriate advice and supportMore about the Student Advocate Scheme
The Conservatoire was the first in the UK to introduce a performance coaching programme based on sport psychology and the mental regimes it embraces. Find out more about the innovative programme.
Performance-related medical problems
For specific performance-related medical problems, individual consultations are available with Dr Jonathan White, Medical Advisor from the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).More about the Help Musicians charity
Movement and relaxation
To support your general health as a musician, we also offer an active, practical movement and relaxation class that covers all aspects of movement and mobility. Relevant to players, singers and even composers, the class provides training in how to use the whole body more efficiently. The content of the weekly sessions varies according to students' needs; some come with a specific problem, while others attend as a preventative measure.
Classes typically combine stretching, breathing, movement and massage techniques for problem areas such as the wrists and the neck. The class will encourage and help you to focus on how you move your body and occasionally incorporates work with instruments.
Movement and relaxation classes are available, to all students on a regular, occasional, drop-in or private basis and can be taken as an elective.More about musicianship electives