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Department of Music
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E-mail: music@uww.edu

Body Use & Injury Prevention

The way you use your body in everyday life and as a performing musician can have a large effect on your success and overall health. Maintaining healthy habits can help your physical and mental health. Practicing and performing music is physically demanding and musicians are susceptible to numerous musculoskeletal disorders. Some musculoskeletal disorders are related to behavior, others are genetic, and still some others are the result of trauma or injury. Many musculoskeletal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable and there are things you can do to protect your overall health and function. Sufficient physical and musical warm-up time is important. Good posture and correct physical technique are essential. Regular breaks during practice and rehearsal can help prevent undue physical stress and strain. It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time that you will practice in a day. Know your body and its limits, avoid "overdoing it" and avoid sudden increases in practice times.

Day-to-day decisions can impact your musculoskeletal health, both now and in the future. Since muscle and joint strains and a myriad of other injuries can occur in and out of school, take care of your own musculoskeletal health on a daily basis, particularly with regard to your performing medium and area of specialization. If you are concerned about your personal musculoskeletal health, talk with a medical professional. 

Maintaining your health is one vital component to succeeding as a musician and student. Your college experience demands much of you, and you are responsible for yourself in ways that you may not have been previously. As a musician, your progress and success as an instrumentalist or vocalist is tied to your health. Research shows that most musicians experience performance-related injuries at some point in their careers. This is not only a problem for professional musicians and music school students, but is also true for many amateur musicians.

There are things you can do now to develop healthy habits and educate yourself so that you know what to do if these issues arise. Many music students and teachers incorporate activities like Yoga or Pilates, and practice efficient body use through such methods as the Alexander Technique to maintain themselves. The UWW Health and Counseling Services offers a number of resources including massage therapy, and the UWW Recreation and Sports office offers a number of group fitness classes each term. The links below can direct you to some additional information that may be helpful.

Basic Information on Neuromusculoskeletal and Vocal Health (National Association of Schools of Music/Performing Arts Medicine Association)

Alexander Technique

Pedro Alcantara, An Introduction to the Alexander Technique 

Feldenkrais Method

Amy Likar and Barbara Conable, Andover educators

What Every Musician Should Know

A Painful Melody: Repetitive Strain Injury Among Musicians by Tamara Mitchell

Five Tasks of Constructive Rest by Barbara Conable/College of Music/University of Colorado Boulder

What makes musicians prone to Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)? By Timothy Jameson