Health, Wellness, and Injury Prevention for Musicians

Keep yourself and your music making in top form!

Chapters 12-13 of The Musician’s Way delve into self-care, occupational health, and injury prevention for musicians. The resources on this page complement that material. Note: before you make decisions about your health, consult a healthcare professional.

Injury Prevention for Instrumentalists

See p. 229-291 of The Musician’s Way.

Selected injury prevention articles on The Musician’s Way Blog:
5 Causes of Musicians’ Injuries
The 12 Habits of Healthy Musicians
Heeding the Signs of Injury

Warm-up Exercises for Musicians.” A fact sheet from the British Assoc. for Performing Arts Medicine.
The Total Warm-Up.” By Gerald Klickstein. Also see The Musician’s Wayp. 37-39.

Exercise for Musicians: Flay Fit, Not Flat.” How exercise benefits musicians, by Bronwen Ackermann, Ph.D.

Return to play schedule following injury.” From Musicians’ Health Scotland.

Looking at Musicians’ Health through the Ages.” Ralph Manchester, M.D., sums up the prevalence and incidence of playing-related injuries.

Musculoskeletal Disorders Affecting Musicians and Considerations for their Prevention.” Slides by physiotherapist Patrice Berque; includes anatomical drawings and photos.

AthletesandtheArts.com. Integrating sports medicine and music.

What Studying Musicians Tells Us about Motor Control of the Hand.” Article by Alan Watson, Ph.D. (2006).

Books about injury prevention for musicians

The Musician’s Way, by Gerald Klickstein (Oxford 2009; 15th printing, 2019).
The Musician’s Survival Manual,
ebook by R. Norris, M.D. (2011/1993).
The Musician’s Body, by Llobet and Odam (Ashgate 2007).
Playing (less) Hurt, by Janet Horvath (2010 edition).

Alexander Technique

See p. 250-269 of The Musician’s Way.

The Alexander Technique.” A synopsis by Sara Cohoe.

Balanced Shoulders, Open Heart | Sitting Tall. Via The Musician’s Way Blog.

AlexanderTechnique.com. Numerous resources plus a teacher-finder tool.
American Society for Alexander Technique. Articles and a teacher locator.

Alexander technique videos, by Eileen Troberman.
Alexander technique articles for musicians, by Pedro de Alcantara.

The Sum Total Value of Non-Doing. Bill Plake on how AT liberates artistry.

BodyMap.org, by Barbara Conable.

Books about Alexander Technque

The Alexander Technique for Musicians, by Kleinman & Buckoke (2014).
Indirect Procedures, 2nd Edition, Pedro de Alcantara (Oxford, 2013).
How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live, Missy Vineyard (Da Capo, 2007).
What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body, Barbara Conable (2000).

Ergonomics and Computer Use

Consult p. 250-269 of The Musician’s Way.

Wedge seat cushions from Amazon.com. Excellent for musicians!
Lumbar Support Cushions | Foot Rests. From Amazon.

Balanced Shoulders, Open HeartSitting Tall. Via The Musician’s Way Blog.

Ergonomic solutions for computer workstations from OSHA.
How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You. A 40-page ebooklet.

Counteracting Substance Abuse

See p. 307-309 of The Musician’s Way.

Alcohol Abuse: Recognizing Signs & Symptoms. Via HelpGuide.org
Drug Abuse & Addiction: Signs & Symptoms.

Guidelines for Moderate Drinking. From the USDA.

How to Cut Down on Drinking, from the NIAAA (2001).

College Drinking: Changing the Culture.

Music Medicine Reference

PubMed. Search for articles in scientific and medical journals.
For anatomical images, search Google Images.

Performing Arts Medical Association Bibliography.

Performing Arts Medicine, 3rd edition (July 2010).
Perspectives in Performing Arts Medicine Practice: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Apr. 2020)

The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-related Injury, by Alan Watson, Ph.D. (Scarecrow, 2009).

See The Musician’s Way for practical applications of music medicine research.

The Musician's Way book cover - click to preview the text

Voice Care & Vocal Health

See The Musician’s Way p. 268-277 and the For Singers page.

Hydration & Vocal Health
10 Warning Signs of Vocal Trouble
Two must-read articles via The Musician’s Way Blog.

Locate a voice doctor worldwide. Via the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health, by Anthony Jahn, MD (Oxford, 2013). Articles and tips for singers by Dr. Jahn.

The Owner’s Manual to the Voice, by Rachel Gates (Oxford, 2013).
Personal Steam InhalersHumidifiers & air purifiers via Amazon.com.

Fit to Sing. A fact sheet from the British Assoc. of Performing Arts Medicine.
Advice for Care of the Voice, from the Texas Voice Center.
Vocal hygiene tips. Dos and Don’ts from the Canadian Voice Care Foundation.

Effects of Medications on Voice and Speech, via the NCVS.
Vocal Health Resources, from NCVS.
Self-Help for Vocal Health, from NCVS.

Vocal Health & Technique, via the Screen Actors Guild (video).

Vocal health guidelines from the Lions Voice Clinic.
The Voice Foundation. Articles and resources.
Voice Academy. Vocal health for school teachers.

Understanding Hoarseness, from ENT Associates.
Vocal Nodules by Sara Harris via the British Voice Association.
Photo gallery of throat disorders. Via the Bastian Voice Institute.
Laryngopedia, by Bastian Medical Media.

General Health and Wellness

See Part III of The Musician’s Way.

PositivityRatio.com. Gauge mental habits with a 2-minute test.
Guided relaxation videos on YouTube.

EatRight.org. Resources from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Tips for Healthy Eating. From HelpGuide.org.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.
Nutrition Tips for Musicians. Video via UC-Boulder.

ULifeline. “Online resource center for college mental health.”
Health Promotion in Schools of Music. Recommendations for educators.

“The Education of the Professional Musician: Its Psychological Demands and Outcomes,” by Anthony Kemp, Ph.D., in Musical Performance, 2/3, eds. Froehlich & Chesky, 93-110 (Harwood, 2000).

Ash.org. “Action on Smoking & Health.” Articles & tips for quitting.

Hearing Conservation for Musicians

See p. 277-291 of The Musician’s Way.

Music-induced hearing loss affects a large percentage of professional musicians, so hearing conservation is a topic of concern for all musicians and educators.

Hearing Health Education Resources

Hear Today. Hear Tomorrow
10 Ways to Reduce Sound Exposure.
Two must-read articles for musicians by Gerald Klickstein.

Free Online Hearing Test (use headphones; test each ear individually).
Free Online Tone Generator.
Find an Audiologist. Global locator from ASHA.

“How Hearing Works,” by Tom Harris. From HowStuffWorks.com.

Hearnet.com. Hearing education and awareness.
Dangerous Decibels. Prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
SoundAdvice.info. Case studies, info, guidelines.

Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention. Guidelines from NIOSH.
Reducing the Risk of Hearing Disorders among Musicians. Free 5-page workplace solutions document from NIOSH (2015).

Are Your Medications Affecting Your Hearing?” A 1-page ototoxicity fact sheet.

A Musician Afraid of Sound,” by Janet Horvath. How overexposure to loud music ended a cellist’s career (The Atlantic, Oct. 20, 2015).

Articles about musicians and hearing published in Hearing Review.

Prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss in student musicians,” by Phillips, Henrich, & Mace (Int. Journal of Audiology 49, 2010).
Sound Level Measurements in Music Practice Rooms,” by Phillips and Mace, Music Performance Research (2008).
Noise Evaluation of Elementary and High School Music Classes. 20-page report from NIOSH (2012).

Music, Noise and Hearing: A Guide for Musicians (BBC, 2011).
Musicians’ Guide to Noise and Hearing: Toolkit for Managers
(BBC, 2012).

No fortissimo? Symphony told to keep it down,” by Sarah Lyall, (The NY Times, Apr. 20, 2008).
Hear the Music: Hearing Loss Prevention for Musicians, by Marshall Chasin, Ph.D. (3rd Edition, 2010). Free 93-page ebooklet.

Tinnitus and the brain.” Discover magazine, October, 2010.

Sound Level Meters

NIOSH Sound Level Meter App. Free; for iOS devices.

Sound Level Meters at Amazon.com.

Cirrus Research DoseBadge. For professional use.

Environmental Modifications to Reduce Sound Levels

Drum Shields via Amazon.com.
Manhasset Acoustic Shields. Caution: as described on p. 285 of The Musician’s Way, shields must be positioned within 7 inches [18 cm] of a musician’s ears and angled to deflect sound away from upwind players.

Sound-absorbing and soundproofing materials via Amazon.com.
Acoustical Surfaces, Inc. An industry leader in sound control.
Acoustical Society of America. Education and standards.
Portable sound-absorbing baffles from ClearSonic Manufacturing.

Hearing Protection Devices

Musicians who work in high-volume settings should see audiologists to obtain comprehensive hearing exams and receive guidance on the use of hearing protection devices (see The Musician’s Way p. 288-291).

In-ear Monitoring Systems
Sennheiser Ew 300 2IEM G3 In-Ear Wireless Monitor System.
Shure PSM 300 Wireless Monitor System w/ SE215 Earphones.
Sensaphonics.com. Custom and universal-fit in-ear monitors.

Earplugs
Foam Earplugs. Very low cost.
ER20 Musicians’ EarplugsNote: Recent research shows that ER20 earplugs may attenuate by <5db, not the 12-20db implied by the manufacturer. Only use these earplugs when needing small amounts of protection.
Custom-fitted plugs. Order from an audiologist. Useful for percussionists, but not for all musicians. Note that the attenuation levels are approximate and the manufacturer claims of frequency response aren’t fully accurate.