Music Student Health Tips

Overuse Injuries

Spending a great deal of time singing and/or engaging in the repetitive physical motions involved in playing musical instruments can lead to overuse injuries of hands, arms, shoulders, lips, and/or vocal chords. In lessons, ensembles, and classes your teachers will emphasize the development of an efficient and relaxed technique that will help to prevent injuries.  Students should keep the following points in mind:

  • Focus on relaxed and balanced posture.
  • Follow your teacher’s instructions regarding warm-up exercises (including stretching), posture, breathing, and technique.
  • Remain as relaxed as possible while performing.
  • Avoid playing more than an hour without taking a break. Use break time to stretch and rest.
  • Gradually build up endurance to be able to play for long amounts of time. Even when you have sufficient endurance to practice or rehearse for many hours a day, taking rest breaks remains imperative. 
  • Pain or soreness is a sign that something is wrong. STOP, rest, and talk to your teacher about what you are feeling. Usually taking a day or two off and focusing on relaxed technique will solve the problem. Continuing to practice and perform through pain or soreness can make a small problem into a very large one.

Avoiding Discomfort and Injury in Young String Players

Hearing Loss Prevention

When an individual is overexposed to excessive sound levels, sensitive structures of the inner ear can be damaged. This damage can result in hearing loss. Risk for this type of hearing loss can be minimized through routine annual audio-logic evaluation; moderation of exposure levels and exposure durations; resting between excessive exposures; and proper use of hearing protection devices such as earplugs.

Normal conversation is measured at a moderate sound level of 50-70 dB. While music ensemble sound might be measured at 100-120 dB. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss.

Guidelines for hearing loss prevention from the National Association of Schools of Music Performing Arts Medicine Association can be found on the Music Department website.