Caring for your body, your instrument

Singing, like other performing arts, is an act that involves the body, the mind, and the soul. In our current culture, talking about the mind is always encouraged, but talking about the other two seems to be more controversial. Today I want to write a little bit about general challenges to physical health.

There are some very disturbing trends in the physical health of many Americans. Most of us are overweight and do not get enough exercise. Most of us expect and experience some degree of disease as we age, including joint problems, lack of mobility, digestive problems, breathing difficulties, and failing brains. The upward trend in the incidence of diabetes and obesity is well-known.

How much should I, as a voice teacher, advise a person about their health? I’m not a physician or a scientist of any kind. Yet when I see a singing client making unhealthy choices, should it be part of my job to discuss these things that are compromising the body, the instrument?

There is growing evidence about the value of an anti-inflammatory diet. Inflammation seems to be a cause or contributing factor for most of our chronic illnesses. Should I be encouraging an anti-inflammation diet, or is it “out of my territory”?

I have students who never exercise beyond walking from the building they are in to their car and back. Should I explicitly tell them to get out and move more? Should a voice teacher express concerns over a student’s body fat?

All of these things affect their singing and their quality of life.

As time goes on, I feel more strongly that approaches to health that are not pushed by the pharmaceutical industry, corporate agriculture, or the government agencies which are largely run by former executives of those groups, are not getting heard over the din of advertising and the corporate food-making machine which makes harmful food so readily available and cheap. It is not inevitable that we grow old with with excessive body fat, inflammation, chronic degenerative diseases, declining quality of life, and singing voices that no longer function past middle age. The task is to try to find out what is the truth, and how to act on it, regardless of fashion or politics.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video talk by Terry Wahls, MD, who reversed her multiple sclerosis with diet, with huge implications for the health of all people.

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