Health and Safety Issues for Musicians
The Music Faculty seeks to inform music majors of important issues regarding the health and safety of singers and instruments. We are committed to providing information in general music major meetings as well as applied lessons and ensemble rehearsals. Please note that the information that follows is advisory in nature and not a substitute for medical care from a licensed physician.
Protecting Your Hearing
For information regarding the protection of hearing health please click on the document below titled Protect Your Hearing Every Day. This document is provided by the National Association of the Schools of Music and the Performing Arts Medicine Association. Download the NASM-PAMA Hearing Loss Guide here.
Vocal Health and Safety
Singing is a physical activity and each choral rehearsal and applied voice lesson will begin with stretching exercises that deprogram the negative postural/alignment habits of the day and establish healthy ones. Healthy vocal production is encouraged each day as singers are instructed to sing with a relaxed laryngeal position and remember to sing vowel sounds that are spacious, high, and forward. Each choral rehearsal begins with core vocal exercises that encourage singing-on-the breath, bringing head-tones down into the sound, and keeping vowel sounds spacious, high, and forward. These techniques are then reinforced in the choral literature. Healthy singing is a daily focus and students are encouraged each day to learn as much as they can about this topic.
By learning and demonstrating proper vocal technique (including warm-ups) and care of the body and vocal instrument, students will demonstrate knowledge and awareness of potential health and safety issues that may be encountered in their work as professional singers, voice teachers, and conductors. Students will also demonstrate understanding of potential performance injuries and pedagogical techniques to prevent such injuries. In addition to what is learned in applied lessons, students are also encouraged to enroll in MU 270: Vocal Methods and Pedagogy for more in-depth information on these topics.
Instrumental Health and Safety
Instrumental music, whether it be wind, percussive or string, involves physical activity and incorporates muscular activity. Therefore, attention must be given to proper warm-up technique(s) designed to strengthen endurance and lessen the potential for physical damage, while developing endurance and muscle memory. Through a correct and researched approach designed to address daily breathing, long tones, lip slurs, and pitch flexibility individual musicians develop an understanding of proper physical development needed to perform. Additionally, percussion ensemble participants are instructed to use ear plug or noise dampening devices designed to protect against hearing loss.
Individual musicians and ensembles develop a daily routine of various warm-up techniques designed to develop muscle memory and correct breathing. These include singing, scales, lip slurs, and technical studies, all designed to enhance performance while protecting against physical injury.