Music Department Statement on Musician Health and Wellness

Musicians are often athletes of the small muscles. Making music can be physically and emotionally challenging at times, and it is extremely important to take proper care of your physical and mental health during your course of music study at St. Thomas. Preserving and maintaining optimum health among musicians is a topic of great importance within all aspects of the music business. The National Association of Schools of Music has developed guidelines for promoting musician wellness in college music programs. Professional music organizations such as the American Federation of Musicians, The American Choral Directors Association, and the Regional Orchestral Players Organization all advocate for musicians’ health and wellness. The Performing Arts Medicine Association is an international publishing and conference organization that supports research on occupational well-being in all disciplines of the performing arts. Discuss with your studio instructor, ensemble director, or another music faculty member any health concerns you have; additionally, browse the websites below. Preventing injury is your best course of action in creating optimum health and well-being.  To take care of your physical and mental health follow these guidelines:

  1. Never, under any circumstances, play through pain or sing through pain or hoarseness. You only have one body, and if you injure it you risk compromising your very livelihood. Sharp, burning, and/or persistent pain is cause for concern, as is severe or long-lasting hoarseness. If you experience any physical pain or discomfort during your practice, or if you have experienced a recent injury, please stop practicing and contact your instructor immediately.
  2. Performance anxiety is a universal issue among musicians of all ages and levels of ability. The best preventive measures against stage fright are: 1) to be extremely well-prepared through thoughtful and consistent practice, and 2) to perform as much as possible in front of other people, no matter how difficult it can seem at times. If necessary, please contact your instructor for advice.
  3. Whenever possible, eat healthfully, get in some exercise, try to get enough sleep, take breaks, and seek help when you need it. 
  4. Please protect your hearing when attending concerts or performing in large or amplified ensembles. Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible.

Some Helpful Links

Andrews, Elizabeth (2005) Muscle Management for Musicians.

Chaffin, Roger, et al. (2002) Practicing Perfection: Memory and Piano Performance.

Chasin, Marshall (2009) Hearing Loss and Musicians. 

Conable, Barbara (2004) What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body: The Practical Application of Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique to Making Music. 

Cornett, Vanessa (2019) The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance.

Dawson, William J. (2008) Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician’s Guide to Playing Healthy. 

Green, Barry, with W. Timothy Gallwey (1986) The Inner Game of Music. 

Green, Barry (2003) The Mastery of Music: Ten Pathways to True Artistry.  

Greene, Don (2002) Performance Success: Performing Your Best Under Pressure.  

Heman-Ackah, Yolanda D., et al. (2013) The Voice: A Medical Guide for Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Voice. 

Horvath, Janet (2010) Playing Less Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians.

Jahn, Anthony, M.D., et al. (2013) The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health. 

Klickstein, Gerald (2009) The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness.

Lehmann, Andreas, John Sloboda, Robert Woody (2007) Psychology for Musicians. 

Lister, Linda (2011) Yoga for Singers: Freeing Your Voice and Spirit Through Yoga.

Llobet, Jaume Rosset I and George Odam (2007) The Musician’s Body: A Maintenance Manual for Peak Performance.

Maisel, Eric (2005) Performance Anxiety Workbook.  

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen (2013) The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance. 

Moore, Bill (2011) Playing Your Best When It Counts: Mental Skills for Musicians and Performing Artists.

Nagel, Julie Jaffee (2017) Managing Stage Fright: A Guide for Musicians and Music Teachers.

Orsillo, Susan M. and Lizabeth Roemer (2011) The Mindful Way Through Anxiety.

Paull, Barbara and Harrison, Christine (1997) The Athletic Musician: A Guide to Playing without Pain.

Pearson, Lea (2006) Body Mapping for Flutists What Every Flute Teacher Needs to Know About the Body.

Ristad, Eloise (1981) A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances. 

Werner, Kenny (1996) Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within.

Westney, William (2003) The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self.