Department of Music
Anyone who practices, rehearses or performs instrumental or vocal music has the potential to suffer injury related to the activity, or to experience hearing loss due to overexposure to loud sounds. Students are encouraged to supplement information obtained in their lessons, master classes, and guest lectures regarding musicians' health and safety issues by utilizing some of the resources listed on this website. The information here is generic and advisory in nature. It is not a substitute for professional, medical judgments or advice and should not be used as a basis for medical treatment. If you are concerned about your physical dexterity, your voice, or your hearing, or think you may be experiencing the symptoms of a particular neural, musculoskeletal, or voice disorder, consult a licensed medical professional.
Instrumental musicians are at risk for repetitive motion injuries or physical problems related to playing their instruments; and if they are also computer users, their risks are compounded. Instrumental injuries may include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis.
Likewise, the demands placed on singers' voices are vast. Singers can be forced to cancel a recital or tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocalists can suffer from vocal fatigue, anxiety, throat tension, and pain. Musicians use their bodies in specific and highly trained ways, and injuries can occur that can have lasting impact on performance ability. Performers need to be aware of vocal and musculoskeletal health issues that can affect them. Musicians at all levels of achievement can suffer from repetitive stress injuries, neuromuscular conditions or dystonias, and psychological issues including severe performance anxiety.
Incorrect posture, nonergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress, and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause pain, disability, and the end of a musician's career. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a musician's ability to perform at her/his best.
Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician. Your hearing can be permanently damaged by loud sounds, including music. Technically, this is called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Such danger is constant. Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable. You must avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time.
It is important to note that the primary factor in your health and safety is you and depends largely on your personal decisions. You are personally responsible for avoiding risk and preventing injuries to yourself before, during, and after study at UWW. Inform yourself, make good choices, and always be aware of behaviors and circumstances that might be detrimental to your health.
An Overview of Health Issues for Performing and Visual Arts Students (National Association of Schools of Music)
Health Promotion in Schools of Music (Published in Medical Problems of Performing Artists 21(3):142-144, Sept 2006)
Athletes and the Arts