F is for Fitness Last updated: 08 February 2023 The term “musical athlete” was first coined by Nicholas Quarrier in 1993. He noted that strength, flexibility, endurance and co-ordination – as well as ability – are required by athletes and musicians, and that both work in a competitive environment with high expectations. Musicians should therefore undertake cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility training to give themselves the best chance of developing the strength and stamina they need and reducing the chance of injury. The Fit to Perform research project 2020 found differences in fitness measures between instrument groups in their study of music students in higher education. They found that 79% of participants exceeded the minimum recommended weekly amount of physical activity, but this was mostly based on walking activities. Core strength was a weakness for most musicians. Encourage your students to keep fit, referring to NHS guidelines as appropriate: NHS recommendations for 5-18-year-olds – “Physical activity guidelines for children and young people.” NHS recommendations for 19-74-year-olds – “Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64”. Encourage students to have regular eye, dental and hearing tests. Problems in these areas can all cause specific problems for musicians. Parents and carers should be taking children and young people for regular check-ups, and it is worth encouraging this pattern into adulthood. BAPAM’s Hearing Health resource highlights various hearing problems and how to prevent them. Regular dental check-ups will help spot problems that might impact embouchure or singing technique. See a dentist who specialises in working with musicians if a problem arises. If students suffer from a medical condition, they should consult their GP first before undertaking any exercise. Recommend that they start slow and with low intensity to avoid injury.