IBMA Wellness Committee

As Brance mentioned earlier, our GrassCast podcast this week with David Moultrup discussed his activities with the IBMA Wellness Committee, and their efforts to encourage artists and performers to be aware of the particular mental and physical health issues that traveling musicians face – and especially the need to be proactive and take steps to “be and live well,” rather than simply seek help for health problems when they occur.

In the interview, David talks about the difficulties in convincing busy touring artists to think ahead about these issues, and the uphill struggle that this sort of project entails. Just prior to the release of his podcast, he contacted me with the news that activities of The Wellness Committee would be rolled into IBMA’s Education Committee, and that there would be no specific wellness sessions scheduled this year during the World Of Bluegrass week in Nashville.

We contacted Dan Hays, IBMA’s Executive Director for comment on this change.

“The need to offer activities that revolve around wellness issues at our World of Bluegrass events is indeed of interest and importance to the IBMA. We will continue in 2006 to offer a Health Fair through NARAS’ MusiCares program and our education committee, which plans seminars and other learning experiences, still plans to integrate topics into future offerings.

While we believe these topics are important, we also have to balance the requests and interest from industry professionals in seminars that speak to their work as artists, broadcasters, labels, event producers, media reps, agents, association leaders and others. In some years those interests may require us to put more resources into topics focusing on professional advancement.

Beyond our annual convention there are other means through which we can learn more about caring for ourselves and each other, including our publications and website. IBMA expects to continue working with individuals and organizations that do a great job of offering access to health and wellness information and services year round.”

David Moultrop also shared a few closing thoughts about his work with the Wellness Program, and the importance of it being addressed on an ongoing basis.

“I have always hoped that the Wellness Program would be able to continue.??? Even if it ended up that perhaps no sessions were scheduled in 2006, I held out hope that perhaps the absence of sessions would prompt an awareness of what had been building for the past four years.??? That awareness would then translate into a re-commitment on the organization’s part to re-allocate time the following year.”

And even for this year, I continue to contemplate the possibility that the Wellness Program can have a table in the exhibit hall, and that the opportunity is there for folks to come by and talk and ask questions informally.

I realize IBMA is in a tough spot.??? They need to create a program which appeals to their constituents, and many of the constituents have said that they’re not interested in health.??? Having a Wellness Program in the face of those responses is a little like a parent telling a kid that he’s got to eat his vegetables in addition to eating dessert.??? Tim O’Brien actually made a nice joke to that effect in his remarks as president, which I believe was the first year the Wellness Program was going.

But consider the long and well known history of various kinds of health related tragedies in the musical community, such as suicides, substance abuse problems, and eating disorders. ???Then consider the range of ordinary day to day problems, like repetitive stress injuries from playing instruments, diabetes, and expectable marital problems related to a musicians lifestyle.??? These topics and many more are, no doubt, more central to a musicians success than many other topics related to the technical and business sides of a musical career.”

It was truly a???feather in the cap for IBMA to support a program which addresses those topics. ???This is an issue which is central to the entire music industry, and they were willing to be trend setters. ???It would be a really good thing to continue to support it.”

Be sure to listen to David’s GrassCast interview.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.