Have you ever experienced pain or discomfort as a result of your music making?

If you answered yes, you’re not alone.

As I describe in The Musician’s Way, musicians frequently incur injuries, particularly to hands, limbs, backs, necks, vocal cords, and ears.

In fact, based on the data gathered by researchers worldwide, it appears that more than half of all professional musicians, at some point in their careers, endure music-related maladies that sideline them temporarily.

Some performers even become permanently disabled. Students, too, are at risk.

Fortunately, research also indicates that almost all of these occupational injuries are avoidable.

Below is a condensation of the injury-prevention guidelines found in The Musician’s Way:

The Twelve Habits of Healthy Musicians

by Gerald Klickstein

1.  Increase playing or singing time gradually
2.  Limit repetition
3.  Regulate hand- or voice-intensive tasks
4.  Manage your workload
5.  Warm up and cool down
6.  Minimize tension
7.  Take breaks
8.  Heed warning signs
9.  Take charge of anxiety
10. Keep fit and strong
11. Conserve your hearing
12. Care for your voice

  • #1: To avert overuse injuries, restrict any increase in your total playing or singing time to a maximum of 10-20% per week (TMW, p. 12).
  • #4: Respect your physical limits and ask a mentor for advice before you take on an overload of duties (p. 243).
  • #5: Pages 37-39 present a six-step process for warming up thoroughly and efficiently.
  • #6: Two sections in Chapter 13 – “Balanced Sitting and Standing” & “Meeting Your Instrument” – depict how musicians can form easeful habits. Forty-one photos are included.
  • #7: In solo practice, play or sing no more than 25 minutes before pausing for a 5-minute respite. The Musician’s Way features six restorative movements that help to invigorate breaks (p. 75-82).
  • #8: Injury symptoms can be subtle, as are the social issues that come into play when unwell musicians who are expected to perform need to rest instead. Pages 237-241 untangle these topics.
  • #9: Anxiety doesn’t just scuttle musicians on stage but also impels some to overpractice to the point of injury. Strategies to neutralize anxiety interweave throughout The Musician’s Way and come to the fore in Part III.
  • #10: Music making requires mental, physical, and emotional vigor. Healthy musicians, therefore, mind their nutrition, rest, exercise, and other self-care needs much like top athletes (p. 245-246).
  • #11: Strategies that thwart music-induced hearing loss are summarized in my post “Hear Today. Hear Tomorrow” and fleshed out on pages 277-291.
  • #12: A section titled “Voice Care” encapsulates vocal hygiene under seven headings, the first of which is ‘Drink plenty of water’ (p. 268-277).

The Musician’s Way presents extensive guidelines for musicians to prevent occupational injuries; dozens of photos are included. Also see the Wellness Resources at MusiciansWay.com.

© 2009 Gerald Klickstein

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