Workplace Health part two…

This month’s top tips:

  • Instead of using the equipment in your office, walk to a water fountain or photocopier on a different floor. Moving regularly can also help you think clearly and be more efficient.
  • Get some fresh air. This will help you think clearly and reawaken the senses.
  • Remember to drink plenty of fluids. The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink around 1.6 litres and men 2.0 litres of fluid per day. However, it is important to note this is only a guideline; the amount a person needs to drink a day will depend on a range of factors. When you are exercising and during the summer months you should increase your fluid intake.

Common signs of dehydration to look out for:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Headaches
  • Feeling light headed
  • Lack of energy
  • Dark urine & not passing much when you go to the toilet


Sitting at a desk while hunched over your keyboard can cause strain to the cervical spine and stiffen your shoulders.  Stretching lengthens a muscle in one position.

Here are some simple seated-stretches you can do at work to help alleviate those aches and pains. Try to hold the stretch so that you feel a gentle pull in the area:

  1. – Neck Stretch:

Neck Stretch

  • While sitting at your desk, stretch your right arm towards the ground.
  • While doing this tilt your head to the left.
  • You should feel a stretch in the right side of your neck and shoulder.
  • Hold this for 10-20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • To make this stretch deeper, hold on to the edge of your seat and pull up, while leaning your head in the opposite direction.
  • Perform this stretch 3 times on each side.


  1. – Shoulder Shrugs: This is a great way to relax the shoulder while getting your circulation going.

Shoulder Shrug

  • Lift your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and release them back down.
  • Repeat this 8-10 times.


  1. – Arm Stretch:

Arm Stretch

  • Gently interlock your fingers.
  • Push your palms away from your body, gently stretching the forearm muscles, fingers and shoulder blades.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Then twist your palms so they are facing away from you and hold for 10 seconds.


4. – Upper-Back Stretch:

This is a great exercise to stretch out the upper back which can become tight especially if you hunch your shoulders.

Upper Back Stretch

  • Stretch your arms straight out in front, rotate your arms so your palms are facing away from each other
  • Cross your arms so that your palms are now pressed together.
  • Contract the abs and round the back, reach away with your arms and relax the head.
  • Imagine you are curving up and over a ball. Hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat.


  1. Cat-Cow Stretch:

This movement will stretch out your cervical spine.

Cat-Cow Stretch

  • Place both hands on your knees.
  • Inhale, arch the back and look up to the ceiling, exhale and round the spine, allowing your head to drop forward, imagine curving over a ball.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.


  1. – Spine & Shoulder Stretch:

Spine & Shoulder Stretch

  • Loosely grasp your hands behind your neck.
  • Push your elbows back, your shoulder blades squeezing together.
  • Avoid pressing into the neck.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and release.


  1. – Torso Twist:

Torso Twist

  • Sitting slightly forward in your seat, rotate your upper body to the right, holding on to the backrest of your chair with your left hand.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Do the same on the opposite side.


  1. – Single-Leg Stretch:

This is a simple but effective stretch.

Single Leg Stretch

  • Sit on the edge of your chair.
  • Straighten one leg in front of you, foot flat on the floor, keeping your knee straight.
  • Press your heel into the ground.
  • Lean forward at your waist, thinking of touching your belly button to your thigh.
  • Don’t collapse into your spine.
  • For a deeper stretch flex your foot upwards before leaning forward at your waist.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.

In the next instalment we will be providing some more top tips and some stretches you can do while standing up.

Animate Orchestra gets creative for the Music For Youth Schools Prom

Bethan Francis, a 15 year old cellist from Greenwich, has been a member of Animate Orchestra since the project began in March 2011. Here, she tells us about the first stage of her experience of partcipating in the South Riverside Music Partnership’s massed ensemble that will perform in the last night of the Music for Youth Schools Prom on 12 November 2014.

When I found out Animate Orchestra will be playing at the Royal Albert Hall for the Music for Youth Schools Proms, I was very excited! It’s one of the most iconic venues and playing there would be an incredible opportunity for every one of us, not to mention very nerve racking! We are performing in a massive ensemble of 600 young musicians with students from Junior Trinity and singers from the four boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Royal Greenwich and Southwark.

We have had our first session of the project already where we were gathering our ideas for the piece inspired by the poem ‘The London Breed’ by Benjamin Zephaniah. As you can guess, it is about London and it describes everything from the diverse culture and historical sites to the array of delicious food and drinks. The day began with some ice breakers and then we went onto brainstorming ideas based on the poem, led by Kerry Andrew who will now develop all our ideas into a brand new piece of music for us all to perform. We then split up into small, sectional groups to develop mini pieces and ideas based around a phrase each group liked from the brainstorming. All our ideas were recorded and filmed by Kerry and she will go home and use those ideas and her musical knowledge to develop it further.

So far it has been a very exciting experience and I have learnt lots of new and useful skills. It has helped me with my composition and confidence when composing and I have felt like I have contributed to the final piece when putting my ideas forward. It has also been a great opportunity to meet lots of new people and also spend time with old friends who I had met on other courses.

I can’t wait to hear the finished piece when we meet next!

Animate Orchestra 2014

Photography by Tas Kyprianou


Well, it’s all over now. Andy Murray so easily out of Wimbledon; Brazil humiliated in their own backyard; Chris Froome crashing out of the Tour de France so early after winning last year; Trinity Laban’s year ending on 4th July. However, whilst the first three could be seen as disappointing, a failure, or unfortunate, Trinity Laban’s year has been just the opposite. There have been successes in all sorts of areas. The Faculty of Music puts on just over 350 ‘official’ events throughout the year, and there are very many student activities too. Looking back I particularly remember one new initiative, side-by-side, whereby our teaching staff played alongside students in Symphony Orchestra performing Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Holst’s The Planets. These were wonderful experiences for the students, who played principal while their teachers played second. I’m sure it put both parties on their metal! There was a sectional rehearsal for each instrument, then six hours of rehearsals before each of the concerts. This is just one highlight from the huge variety of music making throughout the year.

The Wind, Brass & Percussion Department has presented many events of its own (as do all departments) including Wind Orchestra, Sinfonia Wind Orchestra (Years 1 and 2), Symphonic Brass Ensemble, Flute Ensemble, Double Reed Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Saxophone Choir, Horn Ensemble (who were joined in two concerts by 8 horn students from the Musikhochschule Trossingen, Germany), Trombone Choir, Bass Clarinet & Friends (including a tap dancing singer), Music Theatre band and all sorts of small ensembles. Phew! It has been a splendidly busy and varied year and the range of repertoire performed has been huge.

Next year? Well, I’m sure Murray will be back and wanting to prove a point, though he should watch out for the new kids on the block. Froome will be determined to get back in the saddle as soon as possible, and Brazil will need to start rebuilding their team in order to redeem themselves four years from now.

Our new students could do worse than compare their work to that of an athlete in many ways. There is an enormous amount of muscle training, care and maintenance needed to ensure that damage is not done to embouchure, arms, etc., due to the daily grind. There is an understandable tendency to practise more as a big concert or an assessment looms; tension and tiredness creep in; posture might distort; warm-ups and cool-downs are missed in the apparent need to attack that difficult passage just one more time. We musicians have to be aware of our body use throughout our lives and could do no better than learn from our colleagues in the Faculty of Dance. The Laban Building has a world-renowned Dance Science Department that, amongst other activities, can assess and monitor body use to increase our personal awareness of how we are treating our bodies.

Those who recently made the transition from Trinity Laban student to alumni will be beginning a life in the music profession that might be very different from that at a conservatoire. It can become easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of making a living how to treat our bodies and we begin to realise something might not be quite right. Beware! That said, we hope that the four years training as an undergraduate at Trinity Laban will have honed technique and performance skills so that our former students entering the profession will always be able to give their very best at all times, unlike poor old Brazil!

Ian Mitchell

Head, Wind, Brass & Percussion