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The following information is based on documents provided by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) with the Performing Arts Medical Association (PAMA). As a member of NASM, the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Northwest Missouri State University is concerned that all students in music classes, regardless of their major or performance area, practice healthy habits when using their hearing, vocal, and neuromuscular physiology.
Disclaimer: The information presented here is generic and advisory in nature. It is not a substitute for professional, medical judgments and should not be used as a basis for medical treatment. If you are concerned about your health, or think you may have suffered injury, you should consult a licensed medical professional.
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, but you must avoid over exposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time. The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing mechanisms. Sounds over 85 decibels, about the level of a typical vacuum cleaner in intensity, pose the greatest risk to your hearing. Risk of hearing loss is based on a combination of sound or loudness intensity and duration.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, recommended maximum daily exposure times to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:
Certain behaviors such as controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, using of earplugs and earmuffs, and turning down the volume can reduce your risk of hearing loss. The use of earplugs and earmuffs helps to protect your hearing health. Maintain healthy habits; safeguard your physical and mental health.
Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now and in the future. Since sound exposure occurs in and out of school, you also need to take care of your own hearing health on a daily, even hourly basis. It is important to follow basic hearing health guidelines and to study this issue to learn more. If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, talk with a medical professional. If you are concerned about your hearing health in your music classes, consult your instructor or the chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Vocal health is important for all musicians and essential to lifelong success for singers. Understanding basic care of the voice is essential for musicians who speak, sing, and rehearse or teach others. Practicing, rehearsing, and performing music is physically demanding, and so musicians are susceptible to numerous vocal disorders.
Many vocal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable. Sufficient warm-up time is important.
Day-to-day decisions can impact your vocal health, both now and in the future. Since vocal strain and a myriad of other injuries can occur in and out of school, you need to take care of your vocal health outside of classroom and practice activities. Avoid shouting, screaming, or other strenuous vocal use. Maintain healthy habits; safeguard your physical and mental health. If you are concerned about your vocal health, talk with a medical professional. If you are concerned about your vocal health in your music classes, consult your instructor.
Neuromuscular and skeletal health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician. Practicing and performing music is often physically demanding and musicians are susceptible to numerous musculoskeletal disorders. Some musculoskeletal disorders are related to behavior while others are genetic; still others are the result of trauma or injury. Some genetic conditions can increase a person's risk of developing certain behavior-related disorders. Many neuromuscular and skeletal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable.
Prevention is helped by good daily habits.
The following resources contain further information on health and safety for musicians: