Health and safety for musicians

From the NASM 2012-2013 Handbook:
Students enrolled in music unit programs and faculty and staff with employment status in the music unit must be provided basic information about the maintenance of health and safety within the contexts of practice, performance, teaching, and listening.

All majors/minors and non-majors participating in the music program in applied lessons, classes or ensembles PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:

Health and safety depend in large part on the personal decisions of informed individuals. Institutions have health and safety responsibilities, but fulfillment of these responsibilities cannot and will not ensure any specific individual's health and safety. Too many factors beyond any institution's control are involved. Individuals have a critically important role and each is personally responsible for avoiding risk and preventing injuries to themselves before, during, and after study or employment at any institution.

For music majors and music faculty and staff, general topics include, but are not limited to, basic information regarding:

  • the maintenance of hearing,
  • vocal health and use
  • musculoskeletal health and injury prevention pertaining to the playing of instruments
  • information on the use, proper handling, and operation of potentially dangerous materials, equipment, and technology

In-depth information regarding each of these topics is discussed and/or made available in all ensemble courses, applied instruction, MUS 220 (convocation class), recording technology courses and all music literature/theory courses (dangers specifically associated with hearing and computer usage). In addition students are urged to take MUS 288/488 Efficient Body Use in the Performing Arts taught by Dan Barach who is a licensed Alexander Specialist.

Helpful additional resources:

Protecting your hearing health

Musculoskeletal health and injury

  1. Conable, Barbara. What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body (GIA Publications, 2000)
  2. Mark, Thomas Carson. What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body  (2004)
  3. Zeller, Kurt-Alexander. What Every Singer Needs to Know About the Body (2012)
  4. Klickstein, Gerald. The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness (Oxford, 2009)
  5. Norris, Richard N. The Musician's Survival Manual (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, 1993)

Psychological health

  1. Green, Barry. The Inner Game of Music
  2. Ristad, Eloise. A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances
  3. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Equipment and technology safety

  • All movement of recording equipment, choral risers, platforms, band shells and pianos is to be done specifically by custodial staff under the supervision of Robert Senko (piano technician), Dan Wood (Audio Technician), or other faculty member or staff person involved.
  • Students working as audio/recording technicians must have the permission of Dan Wood (Audio Technician) and will have been trained on how to safely use the sound system and recording equipment, and how to safely lift and carry stage monitors and related equipment. 

Acoustic conditions in practice, rehearsal and performance facilities
Students should be aware that practicing in confined spaces for extensive periods of time (especially percussionists) should be avoided. Please see: Chart: Musical decibel levels

Other links of use: