or professional musician must become aware of their environment
before they begin playing. "Environment" means
such things as temperature where you will be playing, sun
exposure, dry ice exposure, lighting, and noise exposure.
A musician who investigates these aspects of his/her environment
beforehand will be more apt at maintaining optimum health,
while at the same time be prepared to perform at the highest
level possible. Let us take a look at each of these different
Ambient room or outdoor air temperature:
Where you will be performing your gig? Is it in a concert
hall with regulated air temperature? Or will it be in a
cold damp church on a winter morning? Make an attempt to
visit the site where you will be performing ahead of time.
Determine how you will need to dress. Are you going to be
subject to direct sun exposure on a hot summer day? If you
are, don't plan on wearing that flashy hot red polyester
suit. You'll suffer from heat exhaustion if you do.
Here's some suggestions: If playing in
cold environments, wear clothing that will keep your core
body temperature maintained. If your band or orchestra has
standardized clothing, then consider long underwear to keep
you warm. Also, consider how the cold will affect your finger
dexterity. Temperatures below 62º will lead to decreased
dexterity and clumsiness. For cold weather performances
purchase a pair of gloves with the fingertips cut off (If
playing your particular instrument allows this). Maintaining
hand warmth is critical to preventing repetitive strain
injuries to the tendons and muscles. Besides that, your
speed and dexterity are much better when your hand and fingers
are warm. If you are playing in warm environments, such
as outdoors in the summer, remember to take with you at
least two water bottles filled with spring or filtered water.
Take sips between every song or at least every 10 to 15
minutes to maintain hydration. Wear clothing that will "breath"
- will allow air flow to the skin, while allowing heat from
the skin to escape. Avoid costumes and suits if at all possible.
Have two towels handy - one to wipe off perspiration, and
one that is dampened with cold water to wipe your head and
face with. This will help keep your body cool. Maintaining
proper hydration days before the performance is just as
important. Drink six to eight glasses of water daily in
preparation for the hot climate.
Sun Exposure: Everyone
knows, or should know, that sun exposure increases the risk
of skin cancers. Musicians who are continually performing
outdoor gigs throughout the summer must take preventative
measures to reduce the risk of overexposure to the sun.
Use sun screens with SPF 30 or greater. One application
should keep you protected through a typical two hour performance.
Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. It has been proven that
sunglasses without a ultraviolet ray block can actually
cause retinal damage in your eyes. Just because everything
seems darker doesn't mean your eyes are being protected.
Most sunglasses made today offer protection against UV rays,
but if you are using your favorite sunglasses from 1975
then take a good look at purchasing some new "shades."
Dry Ice: Dry Ice is gaseous
Carbon Dioxide. Blocks of frozen carbon dioxide are put
into water and the solid form goes immediately to the gaseous
form to create those clouds that reflect lighting so well
and create that misty appearance on stage. Many performers
state that this dry ice irritates their throat and affects
singing. Breathing in large amounts of carbon dioxide over
a long period of time can affect your overall health and
throw off your blood gas levels. (Such as the carbon dioxide/oxygen
ratio) If you are involved in stage performances that include
dry ice use, consider the location where the ice will be
blown from and attempt to position your equipment away from
that location. Talk with the production manager about pointing
the dry ice machine away from the performers. In most cases,
working together with the stage crew can provide the desired
affects of the dry ice, while at the same time preserving
the health of the musicians.
Noise Exposure: Noise
exposure is not only a consideration for rock musicians.
Every musician must plan carefully how they will handle
the sounds on-stage or in the orchestra pit. Are you sitting
directly behind a brass section that can reach over 100
decibels? Are you an electric bass player standing right
next to a drummer? Consider the health of your ears. Prolonged
exposure to loud noise WILL cause damage to the sensitive
structures of the ears. Many types of earplugs exist for
musicians that maintain adequate range of tones, while dampening
the total decibels entering the ear. For comprehensive information
on hearing issues, visit our links page and go the HEARNET.
This site offers many great articles about hearing loss
and prevention issues.
Lighting: If you are reading
music on-stage, will you be able to see the music with the
lighting that's available? Or will you be straining every
muscle in your face trying to see the music? Some music
stands come with small lighting for this issue, but many
do not. Again, planning ahead will prevent a great deal
of discomfort, and will keep your eyes healthy.
A musician who is serious about maintaining
health will take a serious look at these factors as well
as many others when preparing to perform. Don't go into
a performance with no knowledge of your playing environment.
Knowing your environment is as important as the amount of
practicing you have done over the past few years. Poor preparation
can ruin your performance and even lead to health complaints
down the line.
Dr. Timothy Jameson, the owner and creator or
Musicianshealth.com is excited to announce the release of his new
book Reach For the Top!: The Musician's Guide
to Health, Wealth, and Success.
This book will be an
invaluable resource to your growth as a musician, your success in
all areas of life, and even your growth personally and spiritually!
Click here for more information.