Health Plans

In short, the plan that we have right now is with a health benefit agency called MEDILINQ. With them, we offer a plan for bands that for $39.95 a month, a whole band up to 15 members – crew included, if you want – receives anywhere from 60 to 80% off on prescription drugs, doctor visits, dental, ER care, chiropractors – everything health related. You do NOT need to qualify. It’s a bit different from actual insurance in the fact that the co-pay is not the same every visit. Like I said, the percentage off that you receive varies on what type of procedure you are getting done.

(The same plan is also $19.95 for an individual)

Click here to download the forms.

It’s great when you are on the road because if you are in, for example, Mobile, AL (aka, the middle of no where) and need to see an orthopedist, all you have to do is log on to our site, type in where you are and what type of doctor you want to see and it will show you all the doctors that accept this coverage. It is a PPO which, in health insurance terms, means there is a LARGE amount of doctors across the United States that accept this coverage.

Please let me know if I can answer any more questions (which I’m sure you have and I encourage you to ask!) Email me any time: kristina@rockforhealth.org

To walk you through the application process, you will see on the enrollment form that it asks for band name, manager (this can be someone in the band – doesn’t have to be manager), address, etc.

  • Check the box that says $39.95 a month
  • Part three – you will need to use more than one of this page to add as many people as you deem fit (up to 15). Full name and birthday are most important. No need to worry about the Spouse/Partner/Dependent. In this case, all the band members will be dependents.
  • Part four – The bank account you put here (for example, the band’s bank account) is where the monthly $39.95 a month will be taken from. This does NOT apply to fees incurred while seeing a doctor.
  • Part five – The bank account that is put here is related to the co-pay deductions that will be incurred with each doctor visit. You can have all the members under one account, or each member of the band can have this linked to their own banking account, a family members banking account, etc. If you want to separate each person’s fees like this, just put everyone’s names and bank info in an email or word document to me. (This is 100% confidential).

You will NOT be charged anything after a doctor visit until you receive a statement in the mail showing you what you will be paying and how much money you saved. You will also NOT be charged anything at the desk of a visit.

What I have a lot of my bands do that I work with is that if they need to see a doctor in an area, is to call me and I will set up the appointment for them. It’s easier to get acclimated with the whole process this way and it gives me the peace of mind that my sick boys are getting the best care possible and as soon as possible.

In 2003, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a union representing a wide range of talent including singers and recording artists, designed a deal with the industries top five major labels for making health benefits available to artists on the record companies’ rosters. The deal included coverage with the majors and most of their subsidiary labels, totaling around 1200 companies. Because of initiatives like AFTRA’s, most musicians signed under major record labels are eligible for some type of health care plan. The problem with this coverage is that it is based on royalties where the artist needs to earn a certain amount to qualify. After an artist qualifies for the heath insurance program, they still have to pay monthly premiums where in many cases, the coverage offered is no less expensive than general HMO plans offered to individuals through traditional national insurance networks.

Another option for musicians is taking out their own private insurance plans. Most full-time musicians, performing in clubs and other performance grounds, work on a freelance basis where each performance may be contractually different. The musicians cannot be offered employee benefits by working for themselves, so musicians must seek individual health plans. The differences between insurance plans will be covered in the next sub-section.

The last option is the musician receiving insurance through musical unions. Both AFTRA and American Federation of Musicians (AFM) offer insurance benefits to their members. The AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund offers its members two health plans: an Individual Health Plan and a Family Health Plan. Both of the plans require the artists earn a minimum amount $10,000 but less than $30,000 to qualify for the program.

Click here to download the forms.

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Conditions

Common Ailments

Preventative Care


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Anxiety/Depression

Anxiety- Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror for no reason. You may also feel physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness

Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.

Panic disorder is more common in women than men. It usually starts when people are young adults. Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress. Most people get better with treatment. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic. Medicines can also help.

Depression

Also called: Clinical depression, Dysthymic disorder, Major depressive disorder, Unipolar depression.

Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can run in families, and usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and talk therapy. Most people do best by using both.


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Dehydration

Urinary Tract Infection

Also called: UTI

The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Infections of the urinary tract (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body. You may have a UTI if you notice:

  • Pain or burning when you use the bathroom
  • Fever, tiredness or shakiness
  • An urge to use the bathroom often
  • Pressure in your lower belly
  • Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy or reddish

If you think you have a UTI, it is important to see your doctor. Your doctor can tell if you have a UTI by testing a sample of your urine. Treatment with medicines to kill the infection will make it better, often in one or two days.

UTI’s blow, especially when you’re on the road. Chicks get them more than guys do but guys are still susceptible. Staying hydrated helps fight off UTIs as more water = more to flush out your system with. A UTI is usually prescribed antibiotics and a drug called Ciproflaxin (also used to treat anthrax!). Many health companies manufacture cranberry pills that help keep your urinary tract happy. Cranberry pills are an awesome over the counter preventative measure against UTIs.

Sunstroke/Heat Illness

Also called: Sunstroke

Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating just isn’t enough. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness. Most heat illnesses occur from staying out in the heat too long. Exercising too much for your age and physical condition are also factors. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are most at risk. Drinking fluids, replenishing salt and minerals and limiting time in the heat can help.

Heat-related illnesses include:

  • Heatstroke – a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
  • Heat exhaustion – an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse
  • Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash – skin irritation from excessive sweating

RFH SAYS: DRINK WATER.


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Ear, Nose and Throat Injuries

Tinnitis

Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Does the sound bother you? If you answer is yes, you might have tinnitus.

Millions of people in the U.S. have tinnitus. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, working or even sleeping. Causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, exposure to loud noises or medicines you may be taking for a different problem. Tinnitus may also be a symptom of other health problems, such as allergies, high or low blood pressure, tumors and problems in the heart, blood vessels, jaw and neck.

Treatment depends on the cause. Treatments may include hearing aids, sound-masking devices, medicines and ways to learn how to cope with the noise.

As musicians a way to prevent tinnitus and general hearing loss is to wear earplugs. They might not look cool but when you’re 60 and still trying to pick up chicks at a bar and cannot hear them saying “I. Have. A. Husband!” don’t blame us for getting a slap in the face.

Voice Disorders

Voice is the sound made by air passing from your lungs through your larynx, or voice box. In your larynx are your vocal cords, two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound. For most of us, our voices play a big part in who we are, what we do and how we communicate. Like fingerprints, each person’s voice is unique.

Many things we do can injure our vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat or smoking can make you hoarse. These can also lead to problems such as nodules, polyps and sores on the vocal cords.

Other causes of voice disorders include infections, upward movement of stomach acids into the throat, growths due to a virus, cancer and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords. Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early.

Vocal nodes affect hundreds of musicians. Famous musicians get them all the time from over-use. If you notice a change in your vocal quality or experience pain get checked out.


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Musculoskeletal Disorders

Sprains and Strains

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports (and also being a rockin’ musician! –Ed). Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling and trouble moving the muscle.

At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.

If rest and ice do not improve the sprain or strain seek medical attention as special exercise and physical therapy may be needed to ensure a full recovery.

Fractured and Broken Bones

A fracture is a break, usually in a bone. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. Fractures commonly happen because of car accidents, falls or sports injuries (again, also because of over-rockin’-out). Another cause is osteoporosis, which causes weakening of the bones. Overuse can cause stress fractures, which are very small cracks in the bone.

Symptoms of a fracture are:

  • Out-of-place or misshapen limb or joint
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Limited mobility or inability to move a limb

You need to get medical care right away for any fracture. You may need to wear a cast or splint. Sometimes you need surgery to put in plates, pins or screws to keep the bone in place.


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Nutritional Deficiencies/Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Also called: Anorexia nervosa, Binge eating, Bulimia

Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They include:

  • Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don’t eat enough because you think you are fat
  • Bulimia nervosa, involving periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives
  • Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating

Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Eating disorders can cause heart and kidney problems and even death. Getting help early is important. Treatment involves monitoring, mental health therapy, nutritional counseling and sometimes medicines.

You are not at fault if you have any eating disorder. There are so many things in this world that affect your daily life and so many things you cannot control. Help is out there- whether it’s a confidential free 1-800 line, speaking with a doctor or therapist, or coming to RFH to ask what to do.

Indegestion

Also called: Dyspepsia, Upset stomach

Nearly everyone has had indigestion at one time. It’s a feeling of discomfort or a burning feeling in your upper abdomen. You may have heartburn or belch and feel bloated. You may also feel nauseated, or even throw up.

You might get indigestion from eating too much or too fast, eating high-fat foods or eating when you’re stressed. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, using some medicines, being tired and having ongoing stress can also cause indigestion or make it worse. Sometimes the cause is a problem with the digestive tract, like an ulcer or GERD.

Avoiding foods and situations that seem to cause it may help. Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious problem, see your health care provider if it lasts for more than two weeks or if you have severe pain or other symptoms.

Obesity

Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat and/or body water. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for his or her height.

Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might tip the balance include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods and not being physically active.

Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some cancers. If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases.


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Respiratory Disorders

Also called: Pharyngeal disorders

Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for throat is pharynx.

Throat problems are common. You’ve probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the upward movement of stomach acids into the esophagus, called gastric reflux.

Other problems that affect the throat include:

  • Tonsillitis – an infection in the tonsils
  • Pharyngitis – inflammation of the pharynx
  • Cancers

Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.

Strep Throat

Streptococcal infections (strep for short) cause a variety of health problems. There are two types: group A and group B. Antibiotics are used to treat both.

Group A strep causes:

  • Strep throat – a sore, red throat, sometimes with white spots on the tonsils
  • Scarlet fever – red rash on the body
  • Impetigo – a skin infection
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease)

Group B strep can cause blood infections, pneumonia and meningitis in newborns. A screening test during pregnancy can tell if you have it. If you do, I.V. antibiotics during labor can save your baby’s life. Adults can also get group B strep infections, especially if they are elderly or already have health problems. Strep B can cause urinary tract infections, blood infections, skin infections and pneumonia in adults.

So obviously a streptococcal infection can get serious. Flesh Eating Disease?! Yikes! General practitioners and the CVS Minute Clinics can all provide a diagnosis and prescription for antibiotics to get rid of strep infections. So get ‘er done!


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Substance Abuse

 

Drug abuse

Also called: Substance abuse

Drug abuse is a serious public health problem that affects almost every community and family in some way. Each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States. Abused drugs include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Club drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs

Drug abuse also plays a role in many major social problems, such as drugged driving, violence, stress and child abuse. Drug abuse can lead to homelessness, crime and missed work or problems with keeping a job. It harms unborn babies and destroys families. There are different types of treatment for drug abuse. But the best is to prevent drug abuse in the first place.

Drug overdose

The term “drug overdose” (or simply overdose or OD) describes the ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than are recommended or generally practiced. An overdose is widely considered harmful and dangerous as it can result in death.

RFH sought out the community written advice of Wikipedia for drug overdoses because all of us have experienced someone OD’ing. We all know what it is and the warning signs of overdose. Throwing up blood, uncontrollable shaking, loosing consciousness, and (scarily) stopping breathing all require immediate attention. Whether it was that kid down the hall who drank too much the first weekend of college or the band member who did too much coke, there has been a life-or-death situation in all of our lives.

IF YOU SEE OR EVEN THINK SOMEONE MAY HAVE OVERDOSED DO NOT WAIT TO CALL MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. DIAL 9-1-1. THREE DIGITS CAN SAVE A LIFE!


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Vision

Refractive Errors

Also called: Farsightedness, Hyperopia, Myopia, Nearsightedness

Your cornea is the clear front part of your eye. It is like a window that controls and focuses the light coming into the eye. If your cornea has an irregular shape, the light does not focus properly. Everything looks blurry. This is a refractive error.

Four common refractive errors are

  • Myopia, or nearsightedness – clear vision close up but blurry in the distance
  • Hyperopia, or farsightedness – clear vision in the distance but blurry close up
  • Presbyopia – inability to focus close up as a result of aging
  • Astigmatism – focus problems caused by the cornea

Glasses or contact lenses can usually correct refractive errors. Laser eye surgery may also be a possibility.

So if you notice a change in your vision- suddenly you cannot see the fans in the 10th row or that the FOH sound engineer is waving at you to stop noodling on your guitar during sound check, make an appointment to see an optometrist.


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Skin disorders

Skin Cancer

Cancer is a condition where one type of cell grows without limit in a disorganized fashion, disrupting and replacing normal tissues and their functions, much like weeds overgrowing a garden. There are three main forms of skin cancer — Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell cancers are curable. Melanoma is also completely curable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells in the skin, known as melanocytes. Normal melanocytes reside in the outer layer of the skin and produce the brown pigment melanin, which is responsible for the color of our skin. Melanoma describes melanocytes that become cancerous, grow, and invade other tissues.

Sunburns can increase your chances of skin cancer so take precautions when exposed to high levels of sun.

If you notice a difference in color in your skin or bumps make an appointment with a dermatologist or oncologist to get them checked out. A general practitioner will also be able to point you in the right direction. Seek help as soon as you notice something as cancers can grow and complicate extremely rapidly. A few days or weeks will make a difference.

Sunburn

Sunburns arise as a result of invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays hit the body and damage any cells exposed, including skin, hair, and eye cells. UV rays are emitted even when there is cloud cover so protection is necessary at all times.

Sun damage is visible as red, painful sunburns. Bad sunburns can lead to skin cancer later in life as well as wrinkles, freckles, age spots, dilated blood vessels, and general aging of the skin.

Use a sunscreen that has at least a SPF of 15. SPF is a measure of what level of UV rays are absorbed by the sunscreen; the higher the SPF the more rays absorbed and thus, the higher level of protection. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for reapplication throughout the day. Always wear sunglasses and a hat when outside.

* RFH has covered some but not all of the conditions that are likely to pop up on tour. For most of the information we used MedlinePlus. MedlinePlus has a ton of information from very reputable sources and has tons of external links for more information. If you ever have a question it never hurts to call a doctor. Catching a condition early may mean preventing complications and saving thousands of dollars! Take care of yourself- there are thousands of fans across the country (and several band members) waiting to see you get on stage!


PREVENTATIVE CARE

When you are on tour as a live musician (or indeed any other kind of performer), there are times when you don’t have the chance to go to the gym or keep up with good exercise routines. Here are some of the things you can do when you are on the road and in the air.

  1. Use the stairs rather than the lift, and walk up and down escalators rather than standing still.
  2. If you’re a musician with heavy instruments or equipment, carrying them will be a form of exercise. Make sure you’re doing it properly though! Bend at the knees when lifting, and wear straps to distribute the weight properly. Help your drummer or bassist with their gear, so you get the exercise and they get a break!
  3. If you need some thinking time, take a walk around the block –it clears your head and gets you some exercise.
  4. If you’re in an unfamiliar venue, take some time to check out what’s there and what’s not. There should be drinking water, at the very least. Consider organizing a healthier rider (a list of dietary/drink requirements).
  5. Opt for fruit and nuts rather than biscuits, crisps or pastries for backstage snacks. Try to drink more water and less coffee or tea and cut down on the sugary drinks.
  6. Try to get the management to sort out decent meals, either at the hotel or venue – or use your per diems wisely to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.
  7. Do quick stretching throughout the day –it helps relieve stress and exercises your muscles.
  8. Persuade a fellow band member to be your activity buddy and arrange to exercise together; neither of you will want to let the other down. Go for runs together while on tour.
  9. Even if you’re not wanting to be super fit, you still need to keep healthy, so you can do various exercises in your hotel room and even a brisk 10-15 minute walk in the fresh air can help.
  10. Give yourself reasons to take regular breaks, say if you and/or your band members are just not getting that middle eight or fast refrain.
  11. Start wearing a pedometer. You’ll be surprised how motivated you can become to increase your daily step total. Aim for 10,000 steps – you’ll probably total those up simply by jumping around on stage!
  12. Issue a fitness challenge to another band such as the number of steps walked in a week.
  13. Make sure someone in the band (usually the manager) has health and safety responsibilities and makes sure that there is an adequately stocked first aid kit on the tour bus.
  14. Be sure to keep sufficiently hydrated when in an air-conditioned space – like a plane. This is especially important for singers, as the dehydrating effect of air-conditioning can make singing very difficult. Wrapping your throat up can also help prevent drying of the throat.
  15. While we’re talking about planes, take care not to force your voice against the noise of the engine, on-board equipment, etc. And don’t forget to keep your legs moving periodically, so you don’t develop blood clots which are potentially life-threatening. Some performers have been known to do exercises in the aisles! This can help with re-setting your body clock too.
  16. Time-zone changes can put considerable stresses on the body and fatigue can be a common problem. Try to get as much rest and rehydration as you can when traveling and re-adjust your body clock as quickly as you can. Flying a couple of days earlier for a gig at a distant venue would help counteract this problem. If you can’t fly in sooner and you’re just in for the gig and straight out again try to stay on ‘home-time’ by eating and sleeping at the times you would normally at home, if possible. You and your tour manager should plan your tour schedule in terms of sleep/body clock issues, in order to make it easier on yourself and the rest of the band.

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Alexander Technique

Do you suffer from repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Do you have a backache or stiff neck and shoulders?

Do you become uncomfortable when sitting at your computer for long periods of time?

Are you a singer, musician, actor, dancer or athlete and feel you are not performing at your full potential?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, the Alexander Technique could be of great benefit to you.

The Alexander Technique is a method which can help you perform all your usual activities without unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, standing, walking, lifting, speaking – to whatever you do during your day.

Singing is a highly physical happening, a unique form of communication produced by muscle-movements set in motion by a fundamentally emotive desire to express beauty.

The Alexander Technique does not involve exercises, medical therapy or treatment, forms of psychotherapy, or spiritual healing techniques. It is also unlike the manipulations of bodywork or manual healing techniques: Rather than looking at the body as a set of separate “parts” or pressure points to be individually “worked on,” a skilled teacher guides a student through movement, observing and working with whole patterns of coordination, which include tension and postural patterns, how a student thinks about moving, and active movement itself. The student actively participates in this fascinating process, learning to apply his/her own intelligence to effectively change habits.

During a musician’s performance it is impossible to control consciously each of the many parts of the whole singing instrument, all of which need to work at the same time in a highly coordinated way. During practice, however conscious control wants to be directed at maintaining the poise and direction of the body to allow the voice to emerge by itself while working separately on the various parts of the singing instrument to wake them up and bring them into play so that the whole instrument is ready to work.

In practice and performance, a musician’s attention is given almost exclusively to what he is doing with his hands or his feet or his vocal organs, and to the sounds they are producing. Of what he is doing with the rest of his body, he usually knows very little. In attacking a difficult problem of technique, the average performer uses two approaches: He “tries hard” to master it, using all the skill at his command; if his trying builds up too much tension and fatigues him, he “relaxes.” In both cases he is working on a trial-and-error basis. He has no way of knowing exactly how much tension is needed, or how to limit it to the time and place where it is wanted.

Any performer who continues in this way runs the risk of becoming progressively more muscle-bound, and of losing his freedom of movement. If he recognizes the trouble and attempts to remedy it by relaxing, he runs into the danger in reverse. Either he becomes limp and relatively incompetent, or in achieving relaxation in one part he pays for it by becoming over-tense somewhere else.

In teaching the principle to a musician (or to anyone else, for that matter), the aim is to increase the pupil’s awareness of himself as a whole, until he can detect the interference in the head-neck relationship, which is the first link in the reflex chain of “getting set” to do something—to hit a drum, to sing, or to strike a chord. In order to accomplish this, the teacher helps the pupil to carry out the activity without the habitual interference, and to realize by actual experience the lightness and freedom of movement that come when the primary control operates normally. Through repeated experience of this kind, the pupil gradually builds up a new standard of kinesthetic judgment. With this standard he has the power at any time to know whether he is obtaining the maximum of freedom and control in what he is doing. If he is not obtaining it he learns how to find the cause of the trouble and eliminate it.

Because the principle is general in its application, a musician is learning something he can use to advantage in whatever he is doing. And conversely, his improved use of himself in everyday life will be reflected in his music.

Without the desire to express something, the vocal organ cannot cooperate and then, if you want to sing, you will have to “do” it. Using the thought that the whole mechanism is set in motion by the desire to communicate helps the singer avoid “doing” and prevents voice work from dwindling into a series of mechanical movements.


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Fit to Sing

Vocal health is about mind and body as well as voice!

Whatever your style of singing and whatever your repertoire, you should take a holistic approach to your practising and performing. Here are a few tried-and- tested tips for you to keep in mind at all times.

  1. Always warm up physically before you sing. In particular, stretch and loosen up your neck, shoulders, and upper back. This doesn’t have to take a long time, but should be before your vocal warm-up. Repeat this after singing, to allow cooling down.
  2. Ensure your technique is sound – poor technical habits may lead to tension and muscular strain. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice, whatever your level of experience.
  3. Check your posture when singing, using a mirror, or, better still, a video camera. Look at the overall balance of your body, and for signs of tension around your neck and shoulders. If you regularly sit to sing, use a chair that is as comfortable as possible, that supports your lower back, and is at the right height for your body build.
  4. Where is your music? If on a stand, check the stand height and sight-lines, e.g. to your accompanist. If you are holding the music, feel its weight and consider a stand if it is heavy or bulky.
  5. Vision and hearing can affect your neck and upper body posture, have them checked periodically. If you need glasses or lenses to see the music or the conductor, use them!
  6. Plan your practice sessions to allow frequent short breaks in singing. The biggest risk factor for a breakdown in your vocal health is a sudden increase in the quantity or quality of practice, e.g. in the run-up to a concert or audition. If something starts to ache, stop and loosen up. Use a kitchen timer to remind you if a break is due – ever y 20 minutes or so.
  7. Your overall health, physical build, and voice type may make some repertoire more uncomfortable for you. Respect your limitations.
  8. If you have a cold or sore throat, remember VOCAL REST AND HYDRATION. Vocal rest does not necessarily mean no singing: it means no shouting, no whispering, no forcing, and limit your phone calls. Hydration means water, not tea/coffee or alcohol! Also avoid atmospheric pollutants such as cigarette smoke, and over-heated or air-conditioned rooms.
  9. Your general lifestyle can affect your singing: make sure you are eating and sleeping properly.
  10. A mixture of regular exercise (e.g. swimming or sport) and relaxation will help maximize your potential and maintain your vocal health. Performing is stressful and tension can cause pain and stiffness. Find something that you enjoy, it’s more likely to help!
  11. Remember that you are a musical athlete and your performance depends on you taking good care of yourself. Think twice about attending a party or going to a noisy pub in the days before a concert. Watch out for accidents: take care with dangerous sports and DIY.
  12. There is a world outside music! Keep your hobbies and outside interests going to avoid getting over-focused on your singing.

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Food!

Ok, so you’re at a gas station…

Here are some tips for everyone, no matter if you are Fall Out Boy’s merch guy or if you sing for a band that is out touring with no label.

Always remember that you are what you eat…. and tour will put your body to the test. The better you eat, the easier it is to wake up for load in, the easier it is to have energy to run around on stage. It may sound cliche, but it is true! The healthier your body is, the more resistant it will be to injury and sickness. One back injury can ruin your touring plans, or one gum infection can slow you down quite a bit. It is vital that you try to be vigilant to keep you in top physical shape.

Opt to drink water at every turn!

Water makes up 80% of your body, it helps your memory, your muscle response, and it even fights fatigue!

There is a plethora of FREE water at every show… do not waste a drop! Make sure to throw the bottles away in the trash not on the floor as well.

Use Walmart!

Using your $7 dollar buy out at walmart or super target can go a long way to getting you some quality nutrition. Not to mention if you have a larger buy out you can save more money from per diem or buy out.

The rule of 3s!

If you can get 3 servings of fruits or vegetables you will feel better and have a better chance of fighting off that tour cold that everyone else in your van or your bus has.

Chose crackers! not sugar!

When you make that gas station stop, and there is no fruit, or it costs too much, then shoot for crackers or sunflower seeds. Sugar is important but not as important as carbs and essential elements. Also sugar will upset your stomach if you are beyond hungry and looking for some food. Most gas stations have ramen noodle cups that you can make at the gas station. Crackers are super cheap and 2 packs of peanut butter crackers can be very filling and will keep you going for a lot longer than a snickers bar.


^ top ^

Exercises

This is one of the hardest areas to stay on top of even if you have a 9-5 job. Understanding how important it is to stay flexible and strong on tour is vital to doing your job. The more stretching you do the less likely you are to get “rock neck” or pulling a muscle while lifting that hardware case at load in.

  • Get with a friend or a trainer who you trust to help you develop a program before you head out on your tour.
  • Go on a 15 minute run after load in or after sound-check. Even if you are in Detroit, you can practice out running a bum!
  • Bring a bike on tour! if you can fit one in, its a great lazy way to get some exercise in.
  • Bring free weights and a bench if space allows.
  • Pull ups in the trailer: Grab the top of the back of the trailer, lift your legs and go to it!
  • Push ups, anytime, anywhere. All you need is a floor.
  • Sit ups, anytime, anywhere! Stop, drop, and crunch.
  • Do your your own research if you only know lazy people, only you can motivate yourself ultimately!
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch! Every morning before load in, or right before sound check, spend 10 minutes stretching. It will make you more limber and more in control of your body to prevent you getting a “dumb” injury like tripping on the curb, pulling a tendon, or hitting your head. Develop a short stretch routine that works for you – i.e. toe touches, jumping jacks, hip bends, etc.

+ Pay close attention to how you are using your back – lift from your knees! In the end, girls are not impressed by a limping boy with a back brace and crutches.

^ top ^

Tour Friendly Health Tips

Take Care of yourself!

  • If you take care of your diet and your body, you will have more patience with the stage hands and your singer. You will avoid small injuries because you have used your limbs before you went to work. You will have more energy, you will remember where you put your shampoo, and how to play that one drum fill exactly right.
  • You only get one body, take care of it. You only get one back, one set of hands, so guard them and take care of them.
  • You are what you eat, you cannot escape that truth.
  • Talk to someone at ROCK FOR HEALTH to get some health care going for your band!

^ top ^

Important Hotlines and Phone Numbers

FOR ANY EMERGENCY IN THE US OR CANADA

DIAL 9-1-1

911 works via satellites so a local dispatcher will respond despite you having a different area code than the emergency’s location. HOWEVER, once a dispatcher picks up please verify your location as not all parts of the country use the same level of technology. In some jurisdictions, the use of this number is reserved for true emergency circumstances only and use in a non-emergency may result in a criminal charge.

Crisis Intervention/Suicide Help

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1.800.SUICIDE (784-2433)

Boys Town Suicide and Crisis Line: 800-448-3000 or 800-448-1833 (TDD)

24/7 Provides short-term crisis intervention and counseling and referrals to local community resources. Counsels on parent-child conflicts, marital and family issues, suicide, pregnancy, runaway youth, physical and sexual abuse, and other issues.

Covenant House Hotline: 800-999-9999

24/7 crisis line for youth, teens, and families. Gives callers locally based referrals throughout the United States. Provides help for youth and parents regarding drugs, abuse, homelessness, runaway children, and message relays.

Eating and Associated Disorders

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD): 847-831-3438

National Mental Health Association: 800-969-6642

Information on mental health topics and referrals, access to an info specialist

Poison Control

Poison Control – Any Kind of Substance: 800-662-9886 or 800-362-9922

Rape

Nationwide RAINN National Rape Crisis Hotline: 800-656-4673

Or online help through live chat at http://apps.rainn.org/ohl-bridge/

Substance Abuse/Alcoholism

National Drug Information Treatment and Referral Hotline: 800-662-HELP (4357)

24/7 information, support, treatment options and referrals to local rehab centers for any drug or alcohol problem.

Boys Town National Hotline: 800-448-3000

National Cocaine Hotline: 800-COCAINE (262-2463)

24/7 information, crisis intervention, and referrals to local rehab centers for all types of drug dependency.

Al-ateen: 800-352-9996

Alcohol Abuse and Crisis Intervention: 800-234-0246

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Helpline and Treatment: 800-234-0420

Alcohol Hotline Support & Information: 800-331-2900

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Quick Tips

Food!

Ok, so you’re at a gas station…

Here are some tips for everyone, no matter if you are Fall Out Boy’s merch guy or if you sing for a band that is out touring with no label.

Always remember that you are what you eat…. and tour will put your body to the test. The better you eat, the easier it is to wake up for load in, the easier it is to have energy to run around on stage. It may sound cliche, but it is true! The healthier your body is, the more resistant it will be to injury and sickness. One back injury can ruin your touring plans, or one gum infection can slow you down quite a bit. It is vital that you try to be vigilant to keep you in top physical shape.

Opt to drink water at every turn!

Water makes up 80% of your body, it helps your memory, your muscle response, and it even fights fatigue!
There is a plethora of FREE water at every show… do not waste a drop! Make sure to throw the bottles away in the trash not on the floor as well.

Use Walmart!

Using your $7 dollar buy out at Walmart or super target can go a long way to getting you some quality nutrition. Not to mention if you have a larger buy out you can save more money from per diem or buy out.

The rule of 3s! If you can get 3 servings of fruits or vegetables you will feel better and have a better chance of fighting off that tour cold that everyone else in your van or your bus has.

Chose crackers! not sugar!

When you make that gas station stop, and there is no fruit, or it costs too much, then shoot for crackers or sunflower seeds. Sugar is important but not as important as carbs and essential elements. Also sugar will upset your stomach if you are beyond hungry and looking for some food. Most gas stations have ramen noodle cups that you can make at the gas station. Crackers are super cheap and 2 packs of peanut butter crackers can be very filling and will keep you going for a lot longer than a snickers bar.

Exercises

This is one of the hardest areas to stay on top of even if you have a 9-5 job. Understanding how important it is to stay flexible and strong on tour is vital to doing your job. The more stretching you do the less likely you are to get “rock neck” or pulling a muscle while lifting that hardware case at load in.

  • Get with a friend or a trainer who you trust to help you develop a program before you head out on your tour.
  • Go on a 15 minute run after load in or after sound-check. Even if you are in Detroit, you can practice out running a bum!
  • Bring a bike on tour! if you can fit one in, its a great lazy way to get some exercise in.
  • Bring free weights and a bench if space allows.
  • Pull ups in the trailer: Grab the top of the back of the trailer, lift your legs and go to it!
  • Push ups, anytime, anywhere. All you need is a floor.
  • Sit ups, anytime, anywhere! Stop, drop, and crunch.
  • Do your your own research if you only know lazy people, only you can motivate yourself ultimately!
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch! Every morning before load in, or right before sound check, spend 10 minutes stretching. It will make you more limber and more in control of your body to prevent you getting a “dumb” injury like tripping on the curb, pulling a tendon, or hitting your head. Develop a short stretch routine that works for you – i.e. toe touches, jumping jacks, hip bends, etc. +Pay close attention to how you areusing your back – lift from your knees! In the end, girls are not impressed by a limping boy with a back brace and crutches.

Vocal Chord Care

THE DO’S

  • Do drink plenty of water – moist chords make for healthy chords!
  • Do make use of hot water steam inhalation or Vics Vapor Rub
  • Do partake in gentle humming for 5-10 minutes at a time Rest!! 20 minute power naps here and there do a body good.

THE DONT’S

Don’t engage in unnecessary talking. Many musicians create and come up with a series ofhand gestures or sign language to avoid speaking. Get creative – wearing a laminate/sign around your neck saying you are not speaking for the day is not necessarily a bad thing – and it could save some potentially harsh words on absolutepunk.net about your behavior.

Do not whisper! Ever. Whispering grates the vocal chords together like sand paper. Avoid coughing and clearing your throat. Instead, try swallowing and sipping water. Never sing out of your range – even if you suddenly want to become the next FreddyMercury for the day.

Don’t eat heavy meals before a show. Your body will not have time to digest, and the amount of food in your stomach will make it harder for you to breathe thus affecting your vocal reach and projection.

Avoid liquids such as citrusjuice and caffeinated drinks as they all negatively affect your throat’s natural lubrication. Staying away from the free monster truck all day will save you a heart attack in the long run as well.

Hung-over? Late bus call?

What herbs help a hangover?Herbs that help ease the discomfort of a hangover include White Willow (Nature’s aspirin; the guys at GNC SHOULD know about this), Skullcap and Ginseng- they cool your overheated stomach acids, energize the nervous system and detoxify. But if you reallywant to take care of business, Milk Thistle is the king of liver detoxifying herbs.

Want to prevent a nasty hangover?Technically speaking, a hangover is a direct result of the alcohol dehydration… If you want to try and prevent that throbbing headache drink a bottle of water AND pop a vitamin C (OR you can drink a bottle of water with emergen-C) before AND after you go out and party. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Stomach Aching?

Not only is sushi a hunger reliever…the ginger that comes with it can be added to regular coke to help simmer down an angry stomach. Ginger has enzymes that help calm down the acid in the stomach. Give it a try!

  • FLAT COCA-COLA.
  • Slice up an apple (LEAVE THE SKIN ON!) and sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top. Heat up for about 25-30 seconds. Eat. There are enzymes that are brought out and activated when an apple is heated, they can help suppress over active stomach acid!
  • Eat a cup of yogurt.M

Blisters

How can blisters be prevented? They can’t always be helped, however ifyou feel like your shoes may become troublesome try and put ToughStrip band-aids on the irritated areas (ToughStrips can save lives).

If you develop a blister you have a couple options- you can do like the gymnasts do and put a SMALL dab of Vaseline on the blister (popped or unpopped) and then wrap securely in medical tape or a ToughStrip. You should be good to go in a day or so.

**IF rockin’ out on the drums caused the blister- the best bet is to keep the blister in tack, DON’T POP IT! Try to dry it out by applying a small amount of alcohol (the rubbing kind, beer will not suffice) to a qtip and rub on the site of the blister. What will the result be? A small callus. (NOTE- IF THE BLISTER IS OPEN/POPPED, DO NOT USE ALCOHOL)

Muscle Pain? Don’t let it get you down!

Cramps can be caused by a build up of lactic acid in your muscles. DRINK WATER! The more liquids you can get, the better. Water flushed the excess lactic acid out of both your joints and muscle fibers.

If you haven’t noticed already, water fixes everything. It’s the body’s personal duct tape.

Stock up on those lovely cans of tour water!

Take care of yourself!

  • If you take care of your diet and your body, you will have more patience with the stage hands and your singer. You will avoid small injuries because you have used your limbs before you went to work. You will have more energy, you will remember where you put your shampoo, and how to play that one drum fill exactly right.
  • You only get one body, take care of it. You only get one back, one set of hands, so guard them and take care of them.
  • You are what you eat, you cannot escape that truth.
  • Talk to someone at ROCK FOR HEALTH to get some health care going for your band!
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Mission

Music exists because of the artists creating it. Record labels exist because of the artists creating that music. The employees of record labels (everyone from the mail room guys to the CEO) all have health insurance and benefits. Yet – these people all have jobs because of the artists. The artists see no benefits, no health insurance, nothing. Musicians are not seen as employees of a record label. They are “temps” – temporary employees – because of the record contract that they sign. They sign their career and lives over to these labels, which help develop it and help it grow. Nine times out of ten, a band will break up or cancel tours due to prevailing health issues.

ROCK FOR HEALTH is a non profit organization that seeks to educate artists on health issues, provide necessary medical information and be an advocate for musicians in regards to health insurance coverage and long-term care. A population that is better informed about its health care coverage options will be better able to access needed care. ROCK FOR HEALTH will inform musicians on a wide variety of health issues including preventative health services, social, mental and occupational outreach. Through leadership, communication, and partnerships, ROCK FOR HEALTH is dedicated to the creation of a healthy musical environment in which artists and performers can perform at their peek physical and mental abilities. Without healthy musicians, we will not have music that is created to its highest potential. Sick artists cannot tour. ROCK FOR HEALTH wants to make their life and music healthy by helping them address health problems before they escalate into thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills.

Today, health insurance companies often consider musicians and artists an “at risk” population based on legitimate occupational health risks – road travel, hearing damage, and repetitive stress disorders. Many times, insurance companies stereotype artists because of the way that they look and the generalized idea of “sex, drugs, rock and roll.” Musicians who lack health insurance will very often delay or forgo health care until situations get desperate. At moments of crisis they are forced to use hospitals, emergency rooms, and trauma centers to seek treatment instead of addressing health problems at a point when less expensive interventions were possible. As a result, the musician as a patient can very easily run up huge medical bills that can put them in thousands of dollars of debt, sometimes causing the band to break up.

Health Insurance in America

What is unique in the world about the U.S. heath care system is the dominance of the private element over the public element. In the public programs the United States offers Medicare and Medicaid services. The private element offers employer-sponsored and private non-group insurance. Employment-based health insurance continues to be the predominant source of coverage for the non-elderly population. Almost two-thirds (62.7%) of the non-elderly population had employment-based health insurance in 2005. Of the total population of people with health insurance, 7% of the population purchases individual plans. The services available through privately owned insurance are similar to those provided through employers; average premiums are generally somewhat higher than those for employer-sponsored coverage, but vary by age and occupations. Deductibles and other cost sharing (portion of service cost not covered by the plan) are also higher, on average. Musicians and artists are usually generalized as an “at-risk”population. The “at risk” assessment is based on legitimate occupational health risks mentioned before. Another reason insurance companies do not insure artists is because of biases created by the hypothesized decadence of art culture.

Private health insurance plans vary greatly in their benefits to customers. More expensive plans will give the customer the more choice. Being able to choose your doctors is vital in regards to one’s heath. One of the major initiatives of ROCK FOR HEALTH is giving the musicians a choice. ROCK FOR HEALTH customers deserve top medical care for the dangerous heath risks on tour.

A private health insurance policy is a basic agreement between a costumer and the insurance company. The insurance companies manage the customer’s care and acts as an intermediary between them and the medical doctor. The more a costumer pays the better insurance he or she will have. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) –a national association representing nearly 1,300 member companies providing health insurance coverage – claims that managed care is nearly everywhere in America. Nearly 90% of insured Americans are now enrolled in plans with some form of managed care.

Two major Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) are: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs). Both of the major MCOs have advantages and disadvantages over each other.

The basic difference between HMOs and PPOs is the cost. HMOs prevent large out-of-pocket expenses for its customers, while with PPOs, the customers will have to pay higher deductibles and will pay a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. The concept of ‘you get what you pay for’ applies in the difference between HMOs and PPOs. In the HMO system, customers are restricted within a certain network of doctors stated within the insurance agreement. The HMO customer is given a primary physician, who is responsible to act as a general doctor for most injuries and diseases. If the primary doctor cannot treat their patient then the doctors will refer their patient to other doctors within a limited network. The customer cannot step outside the network unless approved by the primary physician and it is sometimes difficult finding certain specialty doctors within the network. In a PPO, the customer has access to a bigger network of doctors and they do not need authorization to seek other doctors outside the larger network. In the PPO system, doctors have agreements with the insurance companies for providing discounted services to insurance companies clients. Customers are not limited to the doctors within the PPO network and have the ability to seek the best care and top specialists in America. The ability to go directly to a specialist is beneficial to customers because they receive immediate care by specialists and do not need to wait for primary physician referrals.

The PPO system tends to have better doctors within the network because the doctors within the network do not want to accept the minimal payments that HMOs companies offer. A HMO system works by pre-paying the doctors for providing care to their clients. This idea of pre-payment is called capitation and it defined as a specified dollar amount a physician gets, for a given time period, to take care of the medical needs of a specified group of people. The amount the doctor gets for a patient is a fixed monthly payment and does not increase on the patients’ unknown visits. This means that if a patient needs a considerable amount of care, and the worth exceeds the fixed monthly amount, then the money could come from the doctor’s budget instead of the insurance companies. Instead of capitation, PPOs uses a fee-for-service method. The fee-for-service method usually attracts better doctors because the payment is guaranteed and usually more.

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