Few know that I almost ended my vocal career back in 2002 as I was writing my first book. As fate would have it, I ruptured two discs in my neck, and not knowing for another week, thinking it was only a stiff neck, I finally felt the full extent of what I had done. The numbness in my neck changed from stiff neck to severe pain, the numbness moving down my left arm enveloping it in whole, as well as my fingers. I could shake loose the numbness, but then it turned into the sensation of a drill bit boring into the back of my neck.
Concerned it was a badly pinched nerve, I went to a chiropractor. My doctor was amazing; he didn’t quickly assess the situation, because he had major concerns that it was something more than a pinched nerve. We did X-rays and he then gently manipulated the neck muscles without cracking the upper neck, before working on my spine and lower hips, which were growing more tense and sore from my overcompensation to deal with my neck pain. He also gave me a TENS unit to use to ease the pain, but sent me to a neurosurgeon to better assess the situation.
Long story short, I did indeed need surgery, but three days before surgery, when they called to confirm my appointment, I asked if they would be going in through the front or back of my neck, to which they confirmed my fears; they were going in through the front. I politely requested we switch it to the back of the neck to prevent vocal nerve damage. At first they were reluctant, but agreed to my terms. In the end, it was a wise decision. My pain and numbness went away and I kept my voice.
This surgery lead me to study more about chiropractic and massage therapy as a way to help singers, which is how I stumbled upon Doctor Timothy Jameson. Dr. Jameson is a chiropractor who specifically works with musicians of all sort of ailments from stiff neck pain due to head banging to carpal tunnel issues due to shredding on the guitar. His website MusiciansHealth.com was an AMAZING find for me, offering many free tips and links to his first book, Repetitive Strain Injuries” which was a wonderful read and guide.
Intrigued, I reached out to ask him all sorts of questions. He was one of the most wonderful and caring caregivers I’d ever met. Being a musician himself, he understood the plights of dealing with chronic pain issues that can arise from playing an instrument and perform all day. But, being a spiritual man and having success in both music and life, he had more to offer than just his chiropractic services, which is how his book, Reach for the Top, came into being published.
Reach for the Top is a book written for the modern touring and gigging musician, covering the three points of being a musician; staying healthy for performing and touring, learning how to sustain yourself financially as a musician so that you can make a living at what you love to do, and how to assure that you are successful at your passion. It is not a book that offers the practical tips, such as “how to book your gig,” but more of a “musician’s life manual” to change your overall mindset about taking care of your body and your voice, while programming your thought process in such a way that you begin to think “success” every step of the way.
In Reach for the Top you will learn simple ways to exercise and stretch, even “feed” the body with the right food to sustain a peak performance “musician’s body and voice” in order to keep your body-instrument in shape for the road. Most singer’s have felt the fear of not having the ability to sing due to poor vocal health. Even drummers, guitars players, keyboard players have felt issues such as joint pain in the hands, knees, back, and neck. What if there were a way to change all of this? There is! Dr. Jameson discusses these ways; he has even influenced my own way of warming up to assure that my voice is in peak performance. Whenever I travel around the world, this is one of the books that I always take with me for quick reference.
But, this book goes far beyond the health tips, even introducing you to the benefits of chiropractic care for the musician; it delved into feeding the soul of the musician to elevate the musician’s attitude into a positive state, which can be easily dragged down in the music business by fellow musicians, booking agents, record companies and more. While Dr. Jameson is personally a Christian, and this book does touch on the spiritual side of things, the spiritual elements contain within the book are written is such a way as to uplift all people of any or no faith, from all walks of life.
In the end, Dr. Jameson’s goal with Reach for the Top is to teach the musician how to believe in themselves, to carry on through all the struggles we face while learning our instrument, performing, and recording, because the music is they key. If your mind and body are in peak performance shape, success will find you and you will be able to sustain yourself doing what you love- being a musician!
You can learn more about Dr. Jameson HERE.
You can also access his website, Musicians Health HERE.