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As anyone who has had to perform publicly to any number of people will readily attest, the mind and body will almost inevitably give way to the stresses and strains that most people will never experience.
Indeed, such are the pressures placed on the shoulders of musicians that many suffer bad health in the form of physical and mental decline – as well as “self-medication” through drink and drugs – than the average man in the street. But is it the music that creates these side effects or do these characteristics make one predisposed to a life in music?
This is the question that’s being asked by Aaron Williamson, professor of performance science at the Royal College of Music. To this end, Williamson is to measure the heart rate, breathing, skin temperature and posture of concert pianist Melvyn Tan by wiring him up for his performance at the Cheltenham festival this Sunday.
Speaking of the test, Tan told organisers of the festival that he does his best to remain fit and healthy.
He said: “I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the result of this investigation. I like to think I am fairly fit though sometimes after a long journey that is not the case. I swim regularly about 2-3 times weekly if I can, about 2-2.5km each time.
“Travelling as often as I do my life can be very sedentary, and I don’t know how some of my colleagues manage to do the jet set lifestyle and keep fit. Actually many don’t and I think that can’t be good for you.”
Professor Williamson will present his results at the end of the day where he will be joined by David Wasley, Senior Lecturer in Exercise and Health Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan University, Karen O'Conner, Performance Coach of Birmingham Performing Arts Consultancy and Howard Bird, Emeritus Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Leeds.