Meet the movement and breath specialist helping the Yorkshire Young Musicians at Leeds Conservatoire
A wellness consultant is using her 'movement and breath' specialism to help exceptionally talented musicians recovery from injury in Leeds.
Yorkshire Young Musicians started in 2004 as a unique partnership with Leeds Conservatoire & Opera North and all 16 local authority music centres in the Yorkshire and Humber region to provide advanced training for exceptionally talented young music students in the area.
Nicole Brûlé-Walker, from Thirsk, works onsite at Leeds Conservatoire once a week on a Sunday to see any students from the group who require help with injuries or strain.
She began her role as a wellness consultant in 2016.
Using various techniques including breathwork to access muscle relaxation and massage methods, Nicole has overseen amazing results in the students from her differing approach.
She said there had been "very few missed performances due to injury at Yorkshire Young Musicians" since her methods were introduced.
Speaking to the YEP, Nicole said: "As a movement and breath Specialist, I might well have been passed over in favour of a more traditional physiotherapy approach.
"My belief about music related injuries goes against the common idea of Repetitive Strain Injuries, the thought being that they practice particular parts and techniques over and over again.
"Having a daughter who started the violin at age 7 and observing her progression, I saw that other external factors and mindset played a much bigger role in the onset of muscle or joint injuries.
"Children also start learning an instrument with shorter lesson times at the beginning and less technical pieces.
"Much like training for any sport, the dexterity and strength could be built up gradually."
Nicole described how she helped one exceptionally talented violin student before an impending exam.
She said: "One of the students that had developed a particularly painful left arm when practicing for his Grade 8 Violin exam had started to worry that on the exam day he would not even be able to play.
"It was the additional tension and stress that created the pain rather than playing.
"His practice schedule was full of breaks and varied techniques.
"We worked on using breathwork to quickly access relaxation in the muscles and gave him a better base at his feet so that the rest of his body would not have to work as hard and the effect was immediate.
"I also gave him some simple self massage techniques to reduce the tension overall."
Nicole said her methods differed from a usual approach - but had been a huge success for the musicians across Yorkshire based from Leeds.
She described how she incorporates her approach to alleviate pain and stress in the children.
Nicole added: "Starting at the feet, I look for imbalance in weight distribution and compensation for older injuries.
"Working up the rest of the body, we map out ways that these young musicians can move with more efficiency and use their breath to enhance the sound they are making.
"Once the root cause is identified, the treatment mainly involves simple yet profound movement and breath exercises to build better awareness and protect against future strain.
"There have been very few missed performances due to injury at Yorkshire Young Musicians since incorporating this approach.
"I am grateful for the high level of teaching at Leeds which supports my methods and gives the young musicians a wonderful platform to begin music making on."
Assessments and exercise based treatments take place at Leeds Conservatoire with the musicians each Sunday.