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Music is my passion and my life. For 18 years it has been a part of my life and for 18 years it has given my life meaning, significance, something to strive for and a way of reaching people where it matters, of telling a story that people feel and can respond to.

In 2014, my first year at ANAM, I found myself facing a future without music. Pain and tension issues resulting from a car accident four years earlier had accumulated to the extent that I was now unable to do what I loved. Dr Bronwen Ackermann and the Health and Wellbeing program at ANAM helped provide me with invaluable strategies to release tense muscles and relieve stress on my body, both mentally and physically. By the beginning of 2016, I was back into playing and performing full-time, now equipped with a view that maintaining my health was of utmost importance, not just for the longevity of my career, but also to increase my potential to master the art of playing the flute.

Thanks to the Health and Wellbeing program I have unlocked my potential as a flute player and as a musician:

  • I am able to problem-solve pain and tension issues as they occur
  • I have a comprehensive set of techniques for dealing with stress in the practice room and nerves before a performance
  • I feel more free while I’m playing
  • I have more control over minute finger movements so my technical ability has improved out of sight
  • Breathing is much more efficient and actually involves much less effort. I can take in much more air and have much more control over tone colours, staccato, phrasing, and have a much larger dynamic range.
  • I have developed a much more efficient practice routine and have entirely eliminated mindless practice.

Ultimately, however, it is the way in which I have so much more scope for communicating meaningfully with my audience while on stage that has secured my respect for the Health and Wellbeing program at ANAM and encouraged me to become a strong advocate for the importance of musicians’ health both inside and outside the institution. In my most recent recital I had the most fun I have ever had on stage in a high-pressure situation and didn’t feel affected by nerves at all. I had the ideal amount of excitement and performance energy and was very happy with the performance, both immediately afterwards and a few weeks later, after watching it on video.

Words by Jennifer Timmins (NZ) ANAM Flute
Excerpt from “Leading the way in musicians health and wellbeing” (Music Makers, ANAM)
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ANAM’s Health and Wellbeing program was first established in 2012 to provide ANAM’s musicians with music-specific practical and educational health training, aimed at both optimising performance and reducing the risk of injury. The concept is to empower musicians to be able to apply information to their own current musical training practices, but also for them to be able to continue good habits into their future careers, and pass on safe playing practices to their own students. It is as integral part of ANAM’s training program and for our musicians is considered part of everyday life as a high-achieving artist.

Image by Pia Johnson

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