Musicians’ Health Promotion: A Grassroots Effort


It all starts with YOU.  Promoting healthy habits among musicians is a group effort.  It does not just come from one physician, one researcher, one educator, or one performer.  Each person’s efforts makes an impact, whether it is with themselves, one of their students, their stand-partner, their colleague, or their friend who tells them they are hurting from playing their instrument.  It starts with YOU.  Each program that has been designed to prevent performance injuries started with a person’s vision, but was carried out and continued by a group of people who decided it was important to them, and made it happen.

The key is to start out small.  Talk to the people you know.  Share what you have learned with your fellow musicians in orchestra, with your family, or with the person you met at a coffee shop one day.  The more people who learn about the physical challenges of our profession, the better.

If you see a problem within your orchestra, or at the university or music program you are part of, speak up.  Talk to the faculty or staff of the organization, and find out if they are willing to help.  Chances are, if a number of musicians are on sick leave for performance injuries, the people at the top know about it, but don’t know how to fix the problem.  They might just need someone like you to step up and volunteer to help.  Tell them that you care about the problem, and are willing to offer a hand.

Another important aspect of starting your own prevention efforts, especially if you are thinking long-range or are working with a large organization, is to make it a collaborative effort.  Get other people in your orchestra or group involved, so you don’t have to do it all yourself.  This approach will also make it easier to keep the program going longer, even after you have moved onto other projects.  And it shows others that you are all in this together.

Over the next few articles, I will discuss some venues in which you can be proactive with your students, your colleagues, and your performance groups.  I will also spotlight a few grassroots programs to show you examples of how you can help promote musicians’ health in your community.

What do you think?  Is promoting musician health – or anything else for that matter – a group effort?  Or the work of individuals?


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