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.

Medical Problems of Performing Artists. The leading international journal.
NASM-PAMA Advisories on Neuromusculoskeletal and Vocal Health. Tools for educators (2014).

Musculoskeletal Disorders Affecting Musicians and Considerations for their Prevention.” Slides by physiotherapist Patrice Berque; includes anatomical drawings and photos. 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; 17th printing, 2021).
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).

Mental Health Resources

See Chapter 7 of The Musician’s Way.

CDC Mental Health Tools & Resources.
Coping with Stress, via the CDC. Helplines plus tips.

Backline. Connect with mental health providers.

Navigating Pandemic-Induced Burnout. Via the Wallace Foundation.

MusiCares. Education and support.
Jed Foundation mental health resource center.

Choosing a Psychotherapist or Counsellor.
Psychological Self-Care.
Resources from the British Assoc. of Performing Arts Medicine.

“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).

For performance anxiety resources, see the Performance page.

Counteracting Substance Abuse

See p. 307-309 of The Musician’s Way.

Counteracting Substance Abuse among Musicians, by Gerald Klickstein.

Alcohol Abuse: Recognizing Signs & Symptoms. Via
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.

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. Resources plus a teacher-finder tool.
American Society for AT. Articles and a teacher locator.

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

The Sum Total Value of Non-Doing. Bill Plake on how AT liberates artistry., 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 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. E-tool from OSHA.
How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You. A 40-page e-booklet.

Music Medicine Reference

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

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).

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

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, via the National Center for Voice & Speech (NCVS).
Vocal Health Resources, from NCVS.
Self-Help for Vocal Health, from NCVS.

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

The Voice Foundation. Articles and resources.
The British Voice Association. Education and resources.
Voice Academy. Vocal health for school teachers.
NASM-PAMA Advisories on Vocal Health. Tools for educators (2014).

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. Gauge mental habits with a 2-minute test.
Guided relaxation videos on YouTube. Resources from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Tips for Healthy Eating. From
Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.
Nutrition Tips for Musicians. Video via UC-Boulder.

Health Promotion in Schools of Music. Recommendations for educators.
Teaching the Whole Musician: A Guide to Wellness in the Applied Studio, by Paola Savvidou (Oxford, 2021). “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 many professional musicians, so hearing conservation skills are vital 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.

Hear the Music Blog, by Marshall Chasin, Ph.D.
Hear the Music: Hearing Loss Prevention for Musicians, by Chasin. 93-page booklet.

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

Hearing Conservation Guidance for the Performing Arts.
Video via the British Assoc. for Performing Arts Medicine.

“How Hearing Works,” by Tom Harris. From Hearing education and awareness.
Dangerous Decibels. Prevent noise-induced hearing loss. 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, (NY Times, 2008).

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

Sound Level Meters

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

Sound Level Meters at

Cirrus Research DoseBadge. For professional use.

Environmental Modifications to Reduce Sound Levels

Drum Shields via
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
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. Custom and universal-fit in-ear monitors.

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.

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

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