Health, Wellness, and Injury Prevention for MusiciansKeep 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.
“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).
Locate an Arts Medicine Specialist
See p. 246-249 of The Musician’s Way.
American Academy of Otolaryngology. Global voice & hearing doctor directory.
For German-language resources, see: musiciansway.com/beruf-musiker
See p. 250-269 of The Musician’s Way.
“The Alexander Technique.” A synopsis by Sara Cohoe.
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.
Counteracting Substance Abuse
See p. 307-309 of The Musician’s Way.
Guidelines for Moderate Drinking. From the USDA.
How to Cut Down on Drinking, from the NIAA (2001).
Music Medicine Reference
The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-related Injury, by Alan H. D. Watson, Ph.D. (Scarecrow Press, 2009).
See The Musician’s Way for practical applications of music medicine research.
Voice Care & Vocal Health
Locate a voice doctor worldwide. Via the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
The Owner’s Manual to the Voice, by Rachel Gates (Oxford, 2013).
Fit to Sing. A factsheet 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.
Understanding Hoarseness, from ENT Associates.
General Health and Wellness
See Part III of The Musician’s Way.
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.
“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. “America’s first antismoking organization.” Articles & tips for quitting.
Hearing Conservation for Musicians
See p. 277-291 of The Musician’s Way.
Music-induced hearing loss may affect half of all professional musicians, so hearing conservation is a topic of concern for anyone who makes music.
Hearing Health Education Resources
“How Hearing Works,” by Tom Harris. From HowStuffWorks.com.
Hear the Music: Hearing Loss Prevention for Musicians, by Marshall Chasin, Ph.D. (3rd Edition, 2010). Free 93-page ebooklet.
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 primer on ototoxicity.
“A Musician Afraid of Sound,” by Janet Horvath. How overexposure to loud music ended a cellist’s career (The Atlantic, Oct. 20, 2015).
“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).
A Sound Ear II. Free 50-page ebook addressing, “noise at work regulations and their impact on orchestras.” (ABO, 2008).
“No fortissimo? Symphony told to keep it down,” by Sarah Lyall, (The NY Times, Apr. 20, 2008).
Tinnitus and the brain.” Discover magazine, October, 2010.
Listen While You Work: Hearing Conservation for the Arts. Free ebook (2001).
Sound Level Meters
NIOSH Sound Level Meter App. Free; for iOS devices.
Cirrus Research DoseBadge. For professional use.
Environmental Modifications to Reduce Sound Levels
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.
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).
Foam Earplugs. Very low cost.
ER20 Musicians’ Earplugs. Note: Recent research shows that ER20 earplugs attenuate by <5db, not the 12-20db claimed 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.
Sensaphonics.com. Custom and universal-fit in-ear monitors.