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Filling the Gap of Health and Wellness in Music Education

Over the past month I’ve been engaging with the music community asking questions about their education and what is missing in their health and wellness. If you haven’t read that article, you can check it out here, but if you’d rather get a spark note version, here is a quick summary.

After posting in 10 different instrumental Facebook groups and gauging my instagram community I received around 215 comments. Despite what instrument was played, I found overarching concepts that people felt were missing. For sake of clarity, let’s divide them into 3 categories:

Mental Health

  • Performance anxiety

  • Impostor syndrome

  • Comparing yourself to others

  • How to come to terms with long-term growth

  • Mindfulness

  • Creating boundaries between your professional and social life

  • The importance of developing a hobby outside of music

  • How to manage living in a toxic environment

  • The importance of daily creativity

  • Having a social and emotional support structure

  • How to manage daily and chronic stress

Physical health topics include

  • Overuse Injuries

  • Anatomy for musicians

  • Posture and alignment

  • Breathing mechanics

  • Various movement modalities

  • How to take care of the body

  • Daily health habits such as sleep, hydration, and nutrition

Other health-related topics that are related.

  • How to choose a practice space

  • Taking deliberate practice breaks

  • How to set boundaries

    • Saying no to a gig or performance opportunity

    • Creating boundaries between professional and social life

    • Creating boundaries with your colleagues

  • The science behind how humans learn and develop

  • How to practice mindfully (highly recommend checking out The Bulletproof Musician)

  • Time management

  • Basic instrument maintenance and care

I have been aware of these gaps for some time, but reaching out to the community, gathering the data, and having many people reach out to me resonating with these conversations, I could no longer ignore my gut feeling I’ve had for the the past few years - this gap needs to be addressed!

But too honest, I’ve been torn about how to approach this for awhile. How can one person make a difference? Is this something that students will actually find helpful? Maybe it’s part imposter syndrome, but these questions kept popping up. After tons of research and self-reflection, I’ve decided to create an online course, but with a modern twist.

There are a few statistics thrown around that suggest that online courses have a completion rate of around 13%. This is one of the main reasons I work 1-1 with people - it provides accountability, guidance, encouragement and motivation through the ups and downs of learning.

However, online courses can be a great way to bring people together to build community and create a movement if it’s organized in a mindful way.

So I reflected and found myself asking:

  • How can I find a happy medium between the two - aka an online course that is community oriented, provides accountability, guidance, and motivation throughout the learning process?

  • How can I help musicians fill in a gap(s) they feel are missing in their health and wellness education?

  • What concepts are the most important and what do I feel I can help with the most?

  • How can I help musicians move better, feel better, and play as tension-free as possible (I think I figured out the above question with this question)?

  • How can I create an online environment that brings together a group of people who want to learn, grow, and improve their quality of living?

  • How can I create an online environment that is a safe space to learn and ask questions?

  • How can I create a space that encourages accountability and growth, without detracting from motivation?

After some brainstorming, reflecting, questioning my life decisions (LOL - for real though), reflecting again, brainstorming some more, throwing everything out the window, and brainstorming again, I think I FINALLY have the answer.

I present my attempt at filling as many gaps as possible.

8 Week Injury Prevention Live Course

This is an 8 week online live course that will teach musicians the basics to taking care of their mind and bodies so they can move better, feel better, and perform better.

The course will have three goals:

1. To teach you effective tools YOU can use to overcome occasional physical symptoms including tightness, soreness, achiness, tenderness, or pain. These tools will also help manage and prevent overuse and repetitive stress injuries.

2. Teach you the foundations of daily health and wellness habits, injury prevention, overuse injuries, functional movement, and self-maintenance so you can be your best health and wellness advocate.

3. To create a community and bring together a group of like-minded people who want to improve their mental and physical health and live a healthier lifestyle through collaboration, accountability, and connection. We are all in this together.

Who is this course for?

If you are a college student, teacher, educator, or professional musician/performer who wants to improve their mental and physical health, then this course is for you. It’s hard to narrow down what benefits you may experience, but ultimately this course is for you if you want to:

  • Learn how to perform basic-self maintenance on your bodies to help overcome occasional discomfort, tightness, soreness, or pain.

  • Improve posture, breathing, body awareness, and reduce overall tension in your body.

  • Learn strategies to overcome common mental thought patterns such as performance anxiety imposter syndrome, comparison syndrome, and self-doubt.

  • Want to be part of a growing community of musicians that is focused on growth, health, and sustainability.

This online course will be different from a regular online course that consists of modules, little guidance, and an occasional Q+A session.. Here is a breakdown of how the course is structured.

  • Weekly Live Zoom Presentations

    • Weekly lessons over zoom that go over the science and application behind the techniques and skills we are building. The calls are recorded in case you cannot attend.

  • Optional Bi-weekly Q+As and Mindset Zoom Calls

    • In addition to the live presentation calls, there will be an additional call every week to maximize your experience and learning in this course. These calls will also be recorded in case you cannot attend.

      • Bi-weekly Q+As: Learning new skills takes time to master! That is why every other week there will be a live Q + A call where I will answer your questions (to the best of my ability), coach you through movements, and give you the extra support you need to deeply understand the material.

      • Bi-weekly mindset calls: the mental game is a necessary skill to build in a field where disappointment, imposter syndrome, comparison syndrome, self-doubt, and competition surround us. Each session will go over different strategies and ways of thinking on these different mindset concepts.

  • Private facebook group

    • Connect with other classmates, ask questions, and share your experiences as you progress through the course. Austin will also be providing a high level of accountability in this group through prompts, reflections, and community engagement on a weekly basis.

  • Welcome gift!

    • Surprise! Who doesn’t love free stuff?! At the beginning of the course I will send you all the equipment you need in the program.

  • Lifetime access to recorded calls, routines, and worksheets.

    • This course is an investment in your education and in yourself. Therefore I believe you should have access to this information forever. No strings attached.

  • Guest speakers!

    • There will be 2 special guest presenters during this program (to be announced) talking about mindfulness, meditation, and mental health.

Program Syllabus

The syllabus was extremely hard to narrow down. Looking at the data of potential educational gaps, one can see how compacting everything into an 8 week course might seem like chugging from a firehose. Although drinking from a firehose can be beneficial in small doses, I wanted to create something more holistic and sustainable to help students learn and integrate the information into their life. Note that this curriculum is subject to change!

Month 1:

Week 1

Health and wellness habits, injury prevention model, and alignment basics.

Developing a mindfulness routine

Week 2:

Breathing mechanics, movement principles, and breathwork.

Open Q+A and Special Guest on mindfulness and Meditaiton.

Week 3:

Pain Theory, Factors, and Overuse Injuries

Deep dive into imposter syndrome, comparison syndrome, and long-term growth

Week 4:

Instrument posture and alignment week. Every student gets a 1-1 alignment session w/their instrument.

Open Q+A

Month 2:

Week 5:

Intro into Self-myofasical release

Intro in CARs (controlled articular rotations)

Deep dive on self-talk, affirmations, and beliefs.

Week 6:

Upper body: Self-myofascial release

Upper body anatomy + assessments

Open Q + A

Week 7:

Lower body: Self-myofascial release

Lower body anatomy + movement assessments

Enneagram: Special guest Karen Cubides

Week 8:

Next steps: how to continue your progress and growth.

Final Q+A

This is a lot of information, but by the end of the 8 weeks I want every student to have a solid representation and roadmap of what they need to do to take care of their mind and body.

Being a musician can be physically and mentally taxing and when it comes to injuries, the odds are not in your favor. After all, anywhere from 63-93% of musicians will experience some sort of injury during their career. Whether you are someone who has intense concert cycles, regularly travels to auditions, sits in the classroom or studio for over 6 hours, or is on tour a good portion of the year, I want you to feel great, free, and confident in your music making.

If you know a friend, family member, colleague, or musician who you think might benefit from a course like this, please consider sharing it with them. We are all in this together!


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