THE ISSTIP CLINIC 1990-94
Author: Andy Evans, Director, Arts Psychology Consultants © Andy Evans 1997
Data compiled and analysed by Andy Evans, Director: Arts Psychology Consultants, London
The data presented here comes from a the clinical database of the International Society for the Study of Tensions in the Performance of Music, ISSTIP. This organisation and its Clinic is founded and run by Carola Grindea, the well-known piano teacher, who has specialised in helping musicians to liberate their body of negative tensions in practising and performance. She has pioneered the use of multi-disciplinary clinics in Britain for the purpose of alleviating the problems presented by performing artists. The Clinic offers free consultations to musicians and other performers and takes place on the first and third Fridays of the month at London College of Music.
Carola Grindea and Pamela Bowden, Head of Singing at LCM, are co-directors of the Clinic, and present at all such clinics is Carola herself, who acts as the focal point and co-ordinates with other specialists. Dr. C.B. Wynn Parry is the Adviser and Medical Consultant and attends once a month. Additional practitioners include other medical experts for referrals, psychologists specialising in the Arts, Alexander and Feldenkreis specialists, and therapists from the fields of complementary medicine. This multi-practitioner approach is very much current thinking, and is mirrored in the two other leading performing arts practices in London, The British Performing Arts Medicine Trust (BPAMT)and Arts Psychology Consultants (APC). Data from BPAMT and APC is available for comparison, and together such data forms an extraordinarily valuable profile of how performing artists are currently being treated in London.
The number of cases in the three samples are as follows:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Number 363 478 199
Male 37% 35.5% 50%
Female 63% 64.5% 50%
Average age 26 31 n/a
Years of data 5 (90-4) 1 (94) 5 (90-4)
The breakdown by profession shows an ISSTIP sample composed almost entirely of musicians. Using the categories established by the Arts Council, the percentages are:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Music 96.4% 80% 79%
Dance 1.7% 7% 5%
Drama .3% 9% 7.5%
Film and Media .8% n/a n/a
Literature .8% n/a n/a
Art 0% n/a n/a
The assumption here is that the choice of a music college setting would bias the numbers towards musicians, though this is a very considerable bias. It is worth noting, however, that Arts Psychology Consultants shows a similar bias to musicians, in this case of 79%. Musicians seem on the face of it more willing to seek direct help from performance arts organisations, while dancers and actors are currently more private in this respect.
Within music, the breakdown of type of music was:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Classical 98% n/a 79%
Pop 2% n/a 21%
This shows a very considerable bias to classical musicians which is not mirrored in the general number of musicians, nor in Arts Psychology Consultants split of 79 to 21 percent. We must assume that holding clinics in a classical music college has something to do with this, though it is worth pointing out that Performance Anxiety and a number of other problems are more likely to occur with classical musicians rather than in the less technically demanding lifestyles of popular musicians.
As for the employed status of our general sample, this was:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Professional 36% 79% 66.8%
Semi-pro .6% 6% 3%
Amateur 3.8% 2% 4.5%
Students 51.2% 13% 25.7%
Teachers 8.4% n/a n/a
The data here shows that the ISSTIP clinics see a proportionately larger number of students and teachers than BPAMT or APC, and the assumption is that again this is because clinics take place in a music college, where teachers also sit in and take an interest. Even so, the fact that 36% of ISSTIP clients are professional musicians does show that the clinic is known and used by a much wider clientele then would normally be internal to the London College of Music.
Different instruments seen
Within the music clients, there was a split as follows regarding chosen instrument:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Strings 29% 15% 22%
Wind 7.9% 7% 11%
Brass 2.9% 6% 6.4%
Percussion .9% 7% 7.1%
Keyboard instruments 36% 16% 8.5%
Plucked instruments 7% 21% 9.9%
Voice 15% 11% 26%
Conductors .9% n/a 3.5%
Composers .3% n/a 1.4%
The most obvious feature of this is that the ISSTIP clinics have an unexpectedly high percentage of keyboard players, other instruments being broadly comparable. Again this may be a bias due to the fact that Carola Grindea is particularly well-known in keyboard circles for her international activity in EPTA and other organisations, and so may particularly attract a keyboard clientele.
Practitioners used by the clinic
This clinic has been set up and is run through the energy and dedication of one person in particular - Carola Grindea. Pamela Bowden assists with singers and Gwyneth George works with cellists when technical changes are necessary. Carola is the initial point of contact for all those who attend. In 51.5 percent of cases, she has dealt directly with the presenting problem. The treatment in this case will be postural adjustment, control of the player-instrument interaction, and breathing control, following her own methods. This leaves 42.7 percent of cases which were seen by a medical specialist, usually Dr. Kit Wynn Parry a foremost authority in muscle injury and rehabilitation. A further 5.8 percent of cases which were seen by other practitioners, mainly specialised arts psychologists. These three acknowledged specialities are used time and again in the treatment of performing artists:
These three types of treatment are available directly or on a referral basis from ISSTIP, BPAMT and APC. The data breakdown is as follows:
ISSTIP BPAMT APC
Medicine 42.7% 79% n/a
Psychology 5.8% 13% 100%
Posture/Physio 51.5% 8% n/a
Inevitably, the nature of any organisation will determine the primary service offered to those who use it, and the primary focus in the ISSTIP clinics is on posture control, breathing and music ergonomics (player-instrument interaction), with a secondary emphasis on medical interventions and a tertiary emphasis on psychological methods. This would, of course, be exactly the other way around in Arts Psychology Consultants, while BPAMT would favour medical intervention, with posture and psychological methods also directly on offer.
The overall conclusions from this very interesting and pioneering sample of data are that a large number of musicians are using the ISSTIP clinic, at an average of around 66 per year. Half of these musicians are students, and the rest working professionals and teachers. The typical profile is that of a classical musician, with a large number of pianists and a lesser number of string players and vocalists. The preferred treatment methods are posture control and medical specialities, with a relatively small number of cases being seen for psychological treatment.
The client profile is very largely congruent with the profile of the clinic itself, with its music college setting and the international reputation of its founder in the fields of posture work and the classical piano.
We must thank Carola Grindea not only for founding and running this most valuable clinic but also for making available this original data. In years to come such data will be the foundation stone for research carried out in the evolving field of Performing Arts Clinics both here and abroad, and will be an invaluable research tool for all those who will continue our job of studying how best to make the life of the performing artist as happy and healthy as it can possibly be.
ISSTIP: Carola Grindea, 28 Emperor's Gate, London SW7 4HS Tel. 020-7373-7307
Arts Psychology Consultants: Andy Evans, 29 Argyll Mansions, Hammersmith Rd. London W14 8QQ Tel. 020-7602-2707
Thanks to Gordana Petrovic for collating and entering the ISSTIP data, and Alex Scott, previously of BPAMT for compiling and analysing the BPAMT data.
‘The Secrets of Musical Confidence’, Andrew Evans, HarperCollins UK, 1994. Please note that this book is presently only available from Arts Psychology Consultants.
Data and text © 1997 Andrew Evans, Arts Psychology Consultants