Avoiding Performance Injury

From tendinitis to carpal tunnel syndrome, overplaying and over practicing can have devastating consequences for musicians. I am lucky, because I have yet to have a performance injury. There are plenty of musicians who have had (or currently have) a repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Hannah B Flute | Avoiding Performance Injury

How can you avoid RSIs but still make enough progress on your instrument? The short answer is to listen to your body. The long answer is a little more complicated.

Performance health is important for any artist or athlete. Working to hard or too much can cause an RSI. When music is your career, you have to find a balance between practice and physical health. That’s what this blog post is all about.

Listen to Your Body

The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Slight discomfort is one thing; you can experiment to find a better playing position. Pain, on the other hand, should not be ignored.

If you experience any sort of pain, even if it is mild, stop practicing. Even if you have a performance coming up. Even if you have to warm up for a lesson. Stop practicing.

Do some stretching to help relieve the pain, but be prepared to take a break if stretches don’t work. Your body is trying to send a message, and you should listen.

Stretch…Often

If you practice a lot, make sure to regularly stretch commonly used muscle groups. For flutists, that means stretching our hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and facial muscles.

Just as you start a practice session with musical warm ups, you can also do some body warm ups. Almost every flutist knows the horror of navigating the right hand pinky keys. If you will be playing a lot of low register stuff, make sure your right hand is tension free.

Pianists can benefit from finger stretches to help with those octave plus reaches. Cellists should always stretch their shoulders to avoid thoracic outlet syndrome.

No matter what instrument you play, stretches will help you stay flexible so you can play without pain.

Break Up Your Practice

This tip is for both physical and mental health. I am not one of those people who can just practice for hours on end. I have to practice in 30-45 minute bursts throughout the day. This not only helps me avoid over practicing, but it also improves my focus.

Even if you can practice for hours at a time, consider taking short breaks. Drink some water, walk around, or read a blog post like this one ­čśť.

Shorter practice sessions can improve your productivity while keeping you physically fit to play your instrument.

Switch Instruments

Okay, so this tip only works if you play more than one instrument. If you want to avoid repetitive stress, try practicing a different instrument. Most instruments have their own requirements for posture, so switching can free up certain muscle groups.

You should of course stretch first. (Remember?)

If you play multiple instruments, switch off between them. That way, you can still reach your practice goals and avoid playing in the same position all the time.

As an example, flutists can switch to piccolo. That brings the arms closer to the body and can put less stress on the arms and hands. A curved head alto flute can serve the same purpose.

Find Other Ways to “Practice”

If you can’t actually play your instrument, find other methods to practice. Other practice methods include score study, listening to recordings, and watching videos.

Don’t let pain keep you from progressing as a musician. There are plenty of things you can do to keep up with your music.

For inspiration, check out The Joyful Flutist’s 100 Days of Alternative Practice on Instagram!

Don’t Give Up

While it is always best to avoid injury, sometimes you can’t avoid it. If you do have an RSI, follow your doctor’s orders so you can get better.

It can be tempting to play if the pain isn’t severe, but doing so can cause more damage. So listen to your body and find other ways to practice.

But most importantly, don’t give up.

So…

Have you ever had a performance injury? How did you recover? Let me know in the comments!

And be sure to check out these exercises for left hand only…perfect for those days when your right hand just ain’t havin’ it! (Subscribe for the password)

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The Best Day Jobs for Musicians

While no musician wants to look for a day job, sometimes it is necessary to pay the bills. I have worked a day job for over a year now, and I believe there are some day jobs for musicians that are better than others.

Hannah B Flute | The Best Day Jobs for Musicians

Whether you find a job in music education or a field unrelated to music, there are some qualities that you want to look for in a day job. In this post, I am going to share what I looked for when finding a day job. I’m also going to include some specific examples of day jobs for musicians.

Let’s start with what to look for with a day job.

Easy

By easy, I mean you go to work, do what your job entails, and then you go home. You don’t bring work home with you. As a musician, you need your free time. You need to practice, find gigs and students, and (hopefully) maintain a social life. Sleep is also important.

I currently work as a bank teller, which is perfect for me. My job is hourly, so I work my forty hours, and then I leave the bank and don’t have to think about work. My time off is mine, and I can spend it however I please.

Good Schedule

Your perfect work schedule will depend on what your goals are as a musician. I wanted to be able to play in community music groups, and they tend to rehearse in the evenings and on weekends. Those groups never play later than 1o pm.

While I do work Saturdays (with Wednesdays off), Saturdays are a half day, so I don’t miss out on much of the weekend. I’m off by 6 pm during the week, and I’m off at 1 pm on Saturdays.

If you want to start private teaching, you may prefer a day job where you work Sundays. Since most private students take lessons in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings, a private teacher should avoid scheduling a day job during those times.

For those of you wanting to do late night shows, you will want to avoid working early in the morning. You need to catch up on your sleep, and so you might want a job where you work from 11-7, instead of 9-5.

Flexible

Another important factor for any day job is flexibility. If a last minute gig pops up, you want to be able to take it and switch your work shifts. Need more time to practice for an audition? A flexible day job will allow you to take off when you need to.

As a teller, my first three months did not come with much flexibility. I could switch my day off, but I did not have the paid time off that comes with a full time job. That benefit only came after 90 days. Sadly, that meant that I missed out on a couple of cool performance opportunities.

Full time vs. Part time

You also want to consider whether you want to work full time or part time. There are benefits to both, and it’s worth looking at each situation before deciding. As a full time employee, I get paid days off plus vacation time. As a bank employee, I also get paid holidays off for all US federal holidays.

I also earn more than I would if I was part time.

However, if you have a lot of projects going on, working part time might be a better option for you. Full time employees have to work between 35-40 hours each week, but part time employees work less than 30 hours per week.

If music is already keeping you busy, but you need some extra income, a part time job is the better choice. For those of you starting without much music work, full time will allow you to save more money to fund your music projects.

Day Jobs for Musicians

There are many day jobs out there, but these are some of the best ones for musicians.

Retail/Food Service

These jobs come with flexible hours, and many companies allow you to switch shifts with other employees. Retail and food service jobs are also relatively easy to get, so they are perfect for anyone who needs work fast.

Paraprofessional

If you want the standard hours of working in a school but not the excess work of teachers, consider applying for a job as a paraprofessional. Paraprofessionals work with teachers and special needs students. You do not need a teaching degree, and you can also leave your work at the door.

Bank Teller

Well, of course I had to mention my own day job. Banks have pretty standard hours, with half day Saturdays. Except with some grocery store branches, you also get Sundays and federal holidays off. Bank tellers also get to leave their work at work.

Music Teacher

If you don’t mind bringing work home with you, being a music teacher can be a great way to earn money. You still get to do music every day, but you also have the security that comes with any day job. Keep in mind that public schools require you to have a teaching degree.

Work from Home Options

The growth of the internet has brought with it many work from home jobs. Most of them come with a flexible schedule, and there is a job out there no matter your interests or skills. A quick search of “work from home jobs” will give you tons of ideas.

So…

Do you have a day job? What is it? And for those of you full time musicians, what are your tips for getting out of a day job? Let’s talk in the comments!

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How to Build a Website

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about why you should have a website. The next thing to figure out is how to build a website, especially if you don’t have much of a budget. Websites are surprisingly cheap and easy to create, and you can even get started for free.

Hannah B Flute | How to Build a Website

There are tons of website builders you can use to create your website, but I am going focus on using WordPress. I currently use WordPress, and I am super happy with it. My website is easy to customize, and I can even add and change content on the go with the WordPress app.

Today, I’m going to tell you how to build a website on a budget, the differences between WordPress.com & WordPress.org, and my tips for creating a website you love.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS), which means that it is a piece of software that houses and manages content for a website. WordPress  comes in two forms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a CMS and hosting plan all in one. It’s great for beginners, because Automattic (the owners of WordPress.com), takes care of any and all security and maintenance issues. All you have to focus on is creating content for your website.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the software known as WordPress. Sometimes referred to as “free” WordPress, you have to find your own hosting plan. I use SiteGround, and I am very happy with them. You do have to pay for your hosting plan, but many website hosts have an option for a one-click WordPress installation.

Build a Website on a Budget

When you’re strapped for cash, it can be hard to spend money on your website. With all of the free options out there, it’s tempting to save your money for other things.

Don’t do that. At least not for the long term. I had a blog and website for about two and a half years before spending money on it. And boy, I wish I invested money in my website sooner.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but there are a couple of things that you should have if you want to be taken seriously. In the beginning, I spent $12/year, then $60, and now I spend about $144/year on my website.

The Basics

First, you need a professional name. If you are building a website as a means of growing your career, your website needs a professional name. Nothing like flutelover99 or oboeliciousblog.

Your website name could be your own name, or it could be your name followed by “music” or your instrument. As you can see, I named my website “Hannah B Flute.” It includes my first name, middle initial, and my main instrument. It’s short and sweet, and it explains the focus and purpose of this website.

The second thing you should have is your own domain name. If you decide to buy your own website hosting, you will have to choose your own domain, and WordPress.com allows you to use a subdomain (example.wordpress.com).

A subdomain is okay when starting out, but once you settle on a name, you really should get your own top level domain (example.com). A top level domain has two benefits that a subdomain does not. It is more professional, and it is easier for people to remember. Both of those things are important when building your professional image on and off the internet.

Do you need extras?

At this point, I only pay for my website hosting and my domain names. I have hannahbflute.com (my current website name) and killerharmony.com (my website’s former name, which redirects to HBF). You can buy a domain name for around $12/year, and there are hosting platforms that offer packages for $5-10/month.

There are tons of extras you can add, like premium themes (templates, basically) and premium plugins (which add features without requiring you to add code).

But no, you don’t need to pay for much besides your domain and hosting. If you need or want help creating your website, there are services out there that can help. I specialize in creating blog content, and I can help you create the website/blog of your dreams.

Five (5) Tips for Creating a Website

  1. Don’t worry about perfection. You can always edit your website later. Just get it up and going.
  2. Edit your content. Be it a biography or a blog post, edit your content, preferably before you hit publish. Not an editor? I can help.
  3. Ask for help. It’s great if you can build your whole website yourself, but if you can’t, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Stick to your budget. If you are on a budget, stick to it. Don’t be tempted to spend money you don’t have.
  5. Have fun with it! Yes, your website should be professional, but you should enjoy creating it. It should be a reflection of you, so enjoy the process.

So…

Do you have a website? Do you wish you did? Leave your answers in the comments, or fill out this survey!

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