The idea for this “guide” came about after I entered my fourth consecutive year of dealing with repetitive stress injuries, with little reprieve from pain, a significant reduction in my playing ability, and annoyed by doctor recommendation for surgeries.  During my undergraduate studies, all of the information I had been given by my instructor implied that it was “normal to suffer” and it “happened to everyone”, which was accurately reflected by the percentage of peers who were likewise suffering from performance injury.  It wasn’t until I moved to Boston that I began to realize that I hadn’t been given any tools to recover from injury and to protect myself from further damage.  With a lot of help, some research, and patience, I began to and continue to construct this guide.  Just because a stress injury from playing is common, it doesn’t have to be normal.

Recent evidence “indicates that musicians first experience health problems starting in the early stages of musical education, and not later in their professional lives”[1], which indicates that professionals have somehow figured out how to play in health, and this information isn’t available to aspiring musicians.  In fact, “25% of music students at universities suffer from playing-related health complaints at the beginning of their studies, 52% of musicians admitted that they had already sufferent from playing related complaints in the past, and79% reported playing related pain at the beginning of their studies in an investigation by Brandfonbrener[2].  79% is huge, and absolutely unacceptable!  Several studies show that health promoting behavior has a positive impact on musicians’ heath, and if professional musicians can figure it out, then aspiring musicians can also learn to play healthy.

This site looks at the body holistically as a way to become healthy.  My belief is that the body is our instrument, and we need to treat it with the same care and respect as we treat the physical instruments that we play.  I mainly focus on health from a woodwind standpoint (because I play the flute), but I believe many of the things discussed here are applicable to all instrumentalists and vocalists.

This page is still under construction, and will continue to evolve as new information is made available and as I gather experiences from friends.  I appreciate comments, advice, or recommendations (whether about the site or experience about your own recovery), as I want this guide to be as accessible as possible.  Please email me at sangeslandm@gmail.com with any comments or critiques!

 

[1] Spahn, Nusseck, Zander “Preventative Behavior in Music Students Across an Entire University Program” edical Problems of Performing Artists, page 8

[2] Ibid