August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

Pedagogy: Physical Fix-It Shop

August 10, 2006

About 200 attendees peppered panelists for “Physical Fix-It Shop” with questions about a flutist’s constant struggle with maintaining a healthy functioning physical self while still getting in the necessary practice time. The session, a joint presentation of the performance health care and pedagogy committees, focused on the importance of preventing physical problems through early training. As a backdrop to the discussion, panelist Darlene

Dugan quoted a study concluding that students entering the university with problems usually continue to have them, while students who enter without problems are less likely to develop them later. She described methods she uses with pre-college students to teach balanced and comfortable ways of holding the flute, noting that adjustments must be made for individual differences. Kelly Wilson, who works primarily with young students, emphasized that they can hurt too, and that teachers must pay careful attention to a youngster’s complaints of discomfort. She successfully uses body mapping to teach students of all ages. Lee Ann Thompson spoke from her vantage point of overcoming injuries she had sustained from over-practicing. She advised stretching, very short practice sessions, and other relaxation techniques. Moderators Lee Van Dusen and Holly Clemans helped field the audience’s many questions. The panelists addressed possible causes of a variety of problems, including upper back pain (head could be out of balance), tired feet and back (weight in heels), numb hands (tension in shoulder or neck). All warned about injuries from everyday tasks other than flute playing, such as driving and computer use, and recommended practicing when the body is relaxed.

—Cynthia C. Stevens (reported by Amy Zuback)