The Science & Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and Learning

By Richard Parncutt; Gary E. McPherson | Go to book overview

6
Music Medicine
ALICE G. BRANDFONBRENER & JAMES M. KJELLAND

Most of the medical problems of musicians are the shared consequence of the specific instrument, performance technique, and repertoire interacting with the physical and psychological nature of the individual. The incidence of problems is greater for those instruments requiring more repetitious actions over a longer period of time and in all the risks that are increased by stress. Most frequent are musculoskeletal pain problems such as tendinitis, which typically resolve with simple measures like reduced activity, antiinflammatory medication, and icing. Prevention is preferable to treatment for all these conditions but more research is needed to validate the techniques to be employed and to more precisely identify the causal factors. This requires close collaboration between medicine and music education.

Many, if not most, occupations are associated with some degree of personal medical risk, and music making is no exception. But it was not until the 1980s that attention became focused on music medicine. From the musicians' viewpoint, there was a certain degree of fear behind their reluctance to seek medical advice, fear of losing a career and fear of uninformed medical care. Most musicians know someone whose career was compromised or ended due to injury. Likewise, they may have themselves experienced or have heard of a colleague's negative medical experiences, which often resulted in a justifiable distrust of physicians. From the physicians' viewpoint, musicians with medical complaints often showed little or no observable pathology, and so the symptoms were often judged to be exaggerated and no diagnosis was made. Few physicians saw sufficient numbers of musicians to understand and properly assess their symptoms, especially in the context of their occupational demands, with the result that they frequently did not receive adequate or appropriate treatment.

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