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Northwest Missouri State University


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Health Issues and Musicians

Most people would probably believe that there is virtually no health risk to those in music professions. While it is probably true that musicians have a much lower incidence of injuries than athletes, for example, there are precautions we can take to avoid injuries.

We all realize that sound pressure levels can become extreme at times in performing ensembles. The challenge for us is learning the point at which we risk damaging our hearing. Research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has found that 52% of students tested had some hearing loss. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published valuable information at their website that can help us understand the relationship of sound exposure to hearing loss. For those of us at risk, for example brass players and those sitting near brass players, high quality hearing protection is available from Etymotic Research.

An awareness of the need for addressing vocal health is also quite commonly understood. However, there are many neuromuscular injuries that can afflict performers. Only recently have we begun to hear about focal dystonia, for example. This affects musicians in many different performing specialities, and can harm or end the careers of those affected. A wealth of information is becoming available to the musical community as a result of the efforts of publications such as the Medical Problems of Performing Artists Journal. Another informative website devoted to this topic is Health Promotion in Schools of Music.