Preventing Injury in College-level Music Programs


Each September, I give presentations on injury prevention to students in the first year music theory classes at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA.  When I was an undergraduate music student myself, most of the faces in the classrooms were familiar.  I would see people I knew from orchestra, friends of friends, and others whom I recognized from around campus.  Now, as a graduate student returning to give back to the community that fostered my musical growth, most of the students are new to me.  I have to ask them which instruments they play, because I’ve never met them before.  Despite this, I still feel a connection between us, built from a common experience.  Even though I’m a stranger to them at the start, I’ve sat in those same chairs, sung solfege from the same set of spiral-bound books, and experienced many of the same struggles they are about to undergo as freshmen in a rigorous music program.

Being a music student at the college level is difficult, whether it is at a university, School of Music, or a Conservatory.  Students are adjusting to a new environment, learning how to live away from home, and deciding how to pursue their lives.  The decisions and patterns they develop at this stage are important.   For many of them, college is where they will start to take their music much more seriously.  The extra stressors of college, combined with a sudden increase in playing time, can lead to injury if they aren’t careful.

I hope that by telling them about injury prevention early on, they will at least know where to turn to if they start hurting, and won’t try to play through the pain.  Curious about what I’m teaching these students, or want some ideas to share with your music program?  Take a look at both parts of “Tips for Healthy Practicing”.  Consider starting an injury prevention program at your school, whether you are an instructor, student, or have another role in the community!

If you are connected to a university music program, is there a venue where you could promote musicians’ health?  How can YOU help prevent injuries in music students you interact with?

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