Takeaways from Musicians' Wellness Day

Hi, friends!

Between Musicians’ Wellness Day and end-of-the-semester stuff, I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but I thought today I could share with you some of the key takeaways from the Wellness Day presentations because they were so, so good!

And if you scroll to the bottom, you can download the handout from my session “Becoming a Sound Musician: Self-Care Tools to Support the Whole Musician.” Hope you enjoy!

Yoga & Guided Meditation with Natalie Deering

Natalie is a licensed mental health therapist, yoga instructor, and meditation teacher. In the yoga session, Natalie guided us through several embodiment techniques that look a little different than the typical yoga class.

Embodiment, as defined by Dr. Arielle Schwartz, is

“the practice of attending to your sensations. Awareness of your body serves as a guiding compass to help you feel more in charge of the course of your life. Somatic awareness provides a foundation for empathy, helps you make healthy decisions, and gives important feedback about your relationships with others. Embodiment in somatic psychology applies mindfulness and movement practices to awaken body awareness as a tool for healing.”

After experimenting with embodiment techniques, Natalie led us through a beautiful meditation, reminding us that we each have a light and a fire inside of us that is always burning.

If you’re local to Lexington and would like to learn more about embodiment techniques and/or work with Natalie one-on-one, you can find more info here: www.ndwellnessservices.com

Sound Healing with Amy Hudson

This was such a unique and cool experience! Amy brought 3 crystal bowls, each a different pitch, and used the sound of the bowls, singing/chanting, and guided visualization to help us clear our throat chakras (Amy, I hope I said that right!!). The participants really responded to this workshop!

If you’re local and interested in experiencing sound healing for yourself, you can register for one of Amy’s workshops, check out www.amyhudson.co for details!


Mental Strategies for Performers with Colleen Maggard


Colleen is the Women’s Swim Team coach at Centre College, a fellow musician, yoga teacher, and is currently finishing up her credentials to be a Health & Wellness Coach! Oh, and she’s about to start her first ultramarathon in Colorado this weekend... no big deal.

At Wellness Day, Colleen talked to us about some of the mental strategies she uses with her athletes and how they can apply to music – here are a few takeaways:

1.       Know your why

Why are you taking the audition? Why are you giving this recital? Why are you practicing?

Staying connected with your “why” helps you keep the bigger picture in sight whenever you’re working through those nitty gritty details, and it can also help you “stay in your lane” and not focus so much on how you compare to others.

Another great point she made about comparison, you don’t know what another person’s training process was like. You don’t know how many hours they practiced, how many mock auditions they did, how well they slept last night.. none of it! Spending time worrying about how you’ll compare to another person is fruitless, especially when you don’t know how they prepared! You can only trust YOUR preparation. Which is a nice segue to..

2.       Know what you can control vs what you can’t

This is a strategy Colleen uses with her athletes when they start to worry about an upcoming race. She advises them to make a list of all the things they can control in one column and all the things they can’t control in another. Usually most of the things you’re worried about are in the “cannot control” column! And if there’s something you can’t control (like the audition panel cutting an excerpt before you walk in the room), then that’s something the other auditionees can’t control either! Again, the only thing you can control is your preparation.

3.       Write down your plan

Colleen advises that you write out your performance plan a couple of months before the event. And get DETAILED!

In an ideal performance scenario, what does your warm-up feel like? What do you do before stepping onto the stage? How do you feel? What do you look like? How do you start your first piece or excerpt? How does it feel to play? What does it sound like?

Use these as guiding points for visualization 2-4 weeks before the performance.

Now obviously, things can happen that are outside of our control and mistakes happen too. Colleen suggests coming up with three strategies for dealing with unexpected scenarios or mistakes.

For example, what do you do if you miss a note? Or what happens if the pianist jumps in early? What does a recovery look like? Which leads to the final takeaway..

4.       What can I learn from this?

This is something I wish I had done more as a college student – I always felt so much relief when it was over that I’d say “thank you, next!” But Colleen suggests taking time after an audition or recital to reflect on what went well and what you can learn to have a better experience the next time around. Even when we play stunning performances, there’s always something to learn.

This summer Colleen has room for a couple more unpaid practice clients before she is officially certified as a health and wellness coach. If you’re interested in working with her, visit her site www.swelllifelex.com.

Repetitive Stress Injuries with Dr. Mike Young

Dr. Mike Young of CORE Health Centers spoke to us about some of the issues that can occur from the repetitive motions of playing our instruments for hours a day for years and years. He explained how each instrument has its own set of associated issues, such as horn players and TMJ.

The key takeaway here was to be proactive about your health. If you wait until you feel pain to see a doctor, chiropractor, personal trainer, etc., then a lot of damage has already been done.

Fitting in Fitness with Johnna Wilford

Johnna Wilford is a running coach, fitness instructor, and fertility educator. She took some time out on Musicians’ Wellness Day to speak to us about some of the typical barriers to physical fitness and strategies to overcome them.

1.       “Something is better than nothing!”

If you’ve got students and rehearsals back-to-back with absolutely no time to go to the gym or go for a run - 10 squats on your lunch break or a brisk lap around the music building is better than nothing! Our bodies are made for movement, and you don’t have to go to a gym to move!

2.       Be proactive – what are your typical barriers to fitness?

One of the most common barriers, as we just discussed, is time. And Johnna graciously provided us with “purse-sized” exercise cards that demonstrate moves we can do in our work clothes that don’t take up much space or get us too sweaty!

What are some other barriers to fitness? Maybe you know that if you sit on the couch as soon as you get home for the day, you’ll never want to leave! In that case, a solution could be to pack your gym clothes and go straight there after work/classes to avoid the temptation of crashing!

Johnna recommends writing down your barriers and coming up with some strategies to counteract these barriers.

3.       Baby steps!

No matter where you’re at physically, work in baby steps. If you’re currently not active, a baby step could be going for a walk on your lunch or doing a few squats or calf raises in your workspace every hour.

If you’re currently running 5ks and your next goal is to do a half marathon, you wouldn’t suddenly get up and run 13 miles when your body is only used to 3-4!

What is one baby step that makes sense in your fitness journey? For more about Johnna’s coaching, see https://johnnawilford.com/ .


Becoming a Sound Musician: Self-Care Tools to Support the Whole Musician (with yours truly!)


I wrapped up the event by speaking about some of the tools that have been helpful in my own self-care journey while recovering from anxiety and beyond. Here a couple statistics that I shared with the group you might find interesting…

 Research indicates that students involved in artistic programs, including music, art, drama, and writing, are more likely to suffer from depression symptoms than students not involved in the arts (Young, Winner, & Cordes, 2013). By the end of their first year in college, music majors scored higher on scales of depression, exhaustion, and stage fright than they did at the beginning of their first semester (Hildebrandt et al., 2012). 


In response to a survey, more than 50% of music students reported at least one anxiety-related symptom that interfered with daily function, and 9% of those students sought treatment. Also, almost 60% of music students who reported never receiving treatment for depression indicated as many as four symptoms that mildly affected their daily function; 7% reported experiencing five or more symptoms that severely affected their daily function (Wristen, 2013). 


Job burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and has been attributed to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45.



I know “self-care” has become a trendy topic, but it has for a good reason!

So here are a few things that can help you integrate more self-care into your life, so you can function better, feel better, AND show up better for others!

1.       Express Gratitude

Every morning I write down 5 SPECIFIC things that I am grateful for (not generalizations like my home or my family). And every evening I write down 10 SPECIFIC things that I was grateful for that day, like getting a paycheck, having leftovers and not having to cook, or a surprise thank you card in the mail!

 There are A LOT of studies on gratitude. Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, says "Something as simple as writing down three things you're grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. The research is amazing…"

2.       Make time for yourself with a morning and evening routine.

If you can’t find time for yourself during the day, then you have to make time. For me, I make that time by getting up a little earlier and allowing a little extra time before bed to focus on me. I wrote a little bit about my morning and evening routines here, and I’ve included TONS of resources of cultivating morning and evening routines in the PDF download below.

3.       Ask for help

What I found most shocking about the statistics above is that so few people that need help actually seek it.

I’ll admit that I have avoided seeing a counselor at times in the past because I thought that my condition wasn’t “bad enough.” Feeling stressed about school or my career didn’t feel serious enough to warrant seeing someone… I didn’t want to waste their time.


Counselors and therapists WANT to help you through life’s challenges, no matter how big or small. So if there’s something that’s been floating around in your head that you just can’t seem to process, or if you feel stressed or burned out or depressed, there’s no need to go it alone. You don’t get a badge for “sucking it up.”  Talk to someone.

If you didn’t get to attend Musicians’ Wellness Day, I hope that you were able to gain something from this recap!

It’s not fancy, but if you’d like a PDF of my self-care resource guide, click the button below to download 😊


Cheers to summer!