If your child has begun to exemplify an incredible musical talent, then you’re probably a pretty proud parent. In addition to music class in school, perhaps you’ve signed them up for voice and guitar lessons as well, perhaps they’ve already decided that they want to pursue a career as a songwriter, or performer in a symphony orchestra. Obviously, if this is the case, then your child is extremely fortunate – knowing what you want out of your professional life from a young age is a huge relief. At the same time, a musician’s life can be extremely difficult, since you are reliant on your physical well-being for a paycheck – if you can’t physically perform then you can’t get paid. There aren’t that many jobs out there for musicians that are unionized or have significant benefits, so it’s important to ensure that something like repetitive strain injury doesn’t hamstring your kid before they hit Carnegie Hall.
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Hopefully this post will not seem alarmist, because it is actually an important matter to take into account. The truth is that many young musicians are forced into an early retirement if they do not develop proper technique or if they over-practice. As you may recall, when we’re young we tend to believe we are invincible, so shredding all night on the guitar or spending all day hunched over the piano probably wouldn’t seem like a big deal.
The thing is, over time improper technique and over-exertion can lead to serious injuries. Even if a recovery is possible, it can be extremely discouraging at a crucial time in a young musician’s career. A career as a musician – especially as an orchestra musician or a concert pianist – is wildly competitive and requires a sustained and prolonged focus. While rest and relaxation is also required, if an injury sidelines a musician for a few months it can be catastrophic. Even just the psychological effect can create a lot of problems, similar to a phenomenon called the yips – a condition that effects golfers and athletes.
Here are three methods you may want to consider if you are a young musician, or parent to a young musician:
Invented by Frederick Matthias Alexander, Alexander Technique is a system of moving and breathing that is extremely popular with actors and performers. The general idea is that we often move in inefficient ways that can be detrimental and cause strain over time. With smooth, natural, efficient movements that take spatial awareness into account, one can avoid the potential pain of cumulative movement.
Increasingly, it has been proven in recent years that stretching, breathing and developing a good connection between the body and mind has great health benefits and improves quality of life. While many young people are too restless for meditation, a teenager who is dedicated to music may understand that since their physical health is paramount to achieving their goals, remaining limber and healthy is important.
Relax/ Take A Break:
While regular practice is necessary for a young person who wants to pursue a music career, over-practicing can be extremely detrimental and lead to injuries. Furthermore, the psychological and emotional strain of cutting oneself off from recreation can be unhealthy and create bodily tension. So make sure your kid is still going for bike rides and ice cream once in awhile – it’s only healthy.