An alumna of Tennessee Tech University has made teaching fellow musicians how to prevent injuries into not only a career but also a vocation.
Angela McCuiston, a 2003 Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance graduate from Columbia, Tennessee has many titles: musician, musician fitness specialist, corrective exercise specialist, senior fitness specialist, cancer exercise specialist, author, and current member of the 313th Army Band in Huntsville, Alabama. She is also the founder and owner of Music Strong, a business that specializes in personal fitness for musicians.
McCuiston recently returned to Tech for the 2023 Flute Day, where she and other alumni, faculty, staff and special guests gave presentations and workshops for students. While she is a performing musician, McCuiston’s demonstration was about how musicians can prevent injuries before and while playing with special exercises.
“It's always a bit surreal but also comforting, like coming home. I was there with a couple of other Tech grads from my time there and we were all commenting on the things that were the same, like the smell of Bryan Fine Arts Building,” McCuiston said. “The creak of the heavy wooden doors was gone but so much the same, it was[PB1] comforting and rewarding to be able to come back and give back and also inspire the next generation.”
McCuiston has a varied and prolific past. She joined the military soon after 9/11 and had a 16-year tenure in the 129th Army Band in Nashville. She was the winner of the 2007 NFA Piccolo Master Class and received a Master of Music in flute performance from Florida State University. She is also the assistant principal/piccolo of Sinfonia Gulf Coast of Destin, Nashville Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony and Nashville Flute Choir.
She recently completed both a residency with the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps as a subject matter expert in preventing playing related injuries for musicians and completed her four-year appointment as chair of the performance health committee for the National Flute Association.
She published her first book, “The Musician’s Essential Exercises,” in 2019. She branched out into a series of instrument specific workouts that are available for download on her website.
She maintains several training locations in Nashville and travels across the nation to give her workshops and presentations. During the week she provides corrective exercise, workouts and individual training.
Before choosing a college, McCuiston had been to the Tech Flute Day and Honor Bands performances and “really connected with the faculty.”
After touring another school, she quickly realized that coming to Tech was “a no brainer.” Tech was close enough to her home in Columbia so she could return home if needed, yet far enough away so that she could have her independence.
“The faculty and expectations of the performance program were exactly what I needed, plus Nashville was only an hour away and I knew several faculty members played in the studio which is what I wanted to do,” McCuiston said. “It was that perfect blend of small town and high expectations I needed, and we could afford.”
The 2023 Flute Day was not McCuiston’s only return to Tech, she returned in 2020 to the flute studio to talk about what it's like to be a military musician and how she joined. She came back in 2009 to do an alumni recital and give a presentation and masterclass to the flute studio. She also returned in 2013 to another recital with retired Professor John Wells on the organ, Angela Pistole on the harp and her on the flute.
McCuiston recently announced on her Instagram page her plans. She plans to open an all-encompassing wellness center catering to musicians of all genres.
“I want to create a safe place for musicians,” McCuiston said.
The wellness center will offer features such as physical therapy, massage therapy, and counseling, addiction support, gym, flotation tanks, personal training, chiropractors, anti-gravity chairs, saunas, nutritional support, financial planning, and several more amenities according to McCuiston. She seeks to bridge the gap between holistic and traditional medicine, and envisions it being a “one stop shop” where instead of having to go all over town for the various services, musicians can fulfill all their needs under one roof.
“The goal is to have a network of providers passionate about helping musicians, be they hand surgeons, sports medicine experts, or general practitioners, as well as having people in house,” McCuiston said. “Besides memberships to the space, we're going to offer concierge service, providing that perfect cocktail of medicine on demand for before you need it, prevention, as well as when you need it.”
McCuiston is currently in the planning stage of the venture, seeking investors, a location and potential staff. As the project progresses, and the wellness center opens, the amenities will be added in stages with input from the patrons as to their needs.
There is not a center like this in Nashville that caters specifically to musicians, according to McCuiston. And while Nashville is known for its country music artists, it is also home to artists from various music genres. McCuiston’s wellness center will be open to all music artists.
For more information on McCuiston and Music Strong visit https://musicstrong.com/, or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/musicstrongfitness/.