Chetham’s School of Music has launched a pioneering physical wellbeing programme for its students, Fit to Perform, with the aim of preventing performance-related injuries.
Developed with Life Fitness Academy and Ad-Lib Training, Fit to Perform supports students individually, taking into account their age and motivations and offering conditioning and general fitness alongside specific injury prevention.
About Fit to Perform
Fit to Perform was born out of conversations between Chetham’s Principal, Alun Jones, and colleagues at conservatoires and professional orchestras, such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, which provide physiotherapists and masseuses to their players, both at home and on tour, to counteract the physical demands of playing on their bodies.
With students aged from 8 to 18, Alun Jones saw an opportunity for Chetham’s to offer an environment in which to prevent these problems before they begin, giving students the knowledge of their own bodies and needs in order to maintain good health throughout their lives.
Physical, social and dietary benefits
Through Fit to Perform, the benefits of exercise to learning, memory and concentration are actively promoted across Chetham’s with new, high-quality gym equipment installed and activities including yoga, pilates, zumba, resistance training and spinning available. Individual induction and analysis sessions are under way with a team of specialist personal trainers developing programmes tailored to individual students and their specific needs.
Meanwhile, a programme of physical literacy for younger students will include Fundamental Movement Skills as well as social outcomes such as collaboration, competition and empathy. The school’s caterers, Sodexo, will support this with advice on appropriate diet and ‘performance fuel’ through specially devised menus.
A music school with student wellbeing at the centre
Alun Jones said:
‘An alarming proportion of young musicians suffer short- or long-term injuries at some point in their learning career, which can affect their performance and impact on their future health and mental wellbeing.
‘The students now have a facility at Chetham’s, which they may not be able to access at the next stage of their education. Just as we support their music practice in the early years but increasingly encourage their independence by the Sixth Form, we’re giving them the tools they need to stay strong and healthy at conservatoire and in professional careers.
‘It’s crucial that as they grow into young adults, they understand how lifestyle can impact upon their future success and happiness. We’re becoming a music school with student wellbeing placed at the centre of everything we do and that can only help to improve their musicianship.’
Improving postural and tension issues
Guitar student, Keiron, 15, said:
‘The PE department has improved drastically. Improved apparatus and facilities, more accessible hours and great gym instructors who combine their knowledge of posture and efficiency with musical technique to improve postural and tension issues.
‘This has made me feel free to easily express myself whilst playing my instrument.’
Help with motility, body structure and strength
Piano student, Carrissa, 12, said:
‘It has really improved because you get to try different things each week.
‘Already it’s really helped me with my motility and posture as well as my body structure and strength.’
Header photo: Fit to Perform – Chetham’s students in the school gym