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Musicianship and teaching: positive health factors in music teachers

Anncristine Fjellman-Wiklund, Gunnevi Sundelin, Christine Brulin
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 17 Number 1: Page 3 (March 2002)

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Abstract: Musicians at all levels of performance may experience health problems from the physical and psychosocial demands of their work. The most common complaints among musicians relate to musculoskeletal symptoms. Health problems are costly, both to the individual and to society, and may have detrimental effects on the musician's career. Thus, it is important to prevent health problems not only through the prevention of disorders, but also by understanding the factors that are favorable to health. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of what music teachers perceived to be important for their health and well-being. Data were collected in interviews with nine music teachers working at a municipality music school in Sweden. The interviews were coded and analyzed using the "grounded theory" method. To increase credibility, the study design used triangulation in investigators, member checking, and reference group checking. "Replenishing and using up energy" was found to be the core category influencing health and well-being. The work contained both positive and negative elements. Creativity in the music and working together with students and colleagues were perceived as sources of energy, while the goals of the organization, experienced as stressful and frustrating, used up energy. The focal point of work, whether it is pedagogical or musical, can also have an effect on how teachers perceive their status of health, and on how they are able to find strategies to deal with the physical and psychosocial strains of work. The music teachers in this study who seemed to modify life and work best were those who had a more pedagogical approach, finding a source of energy in the interplay between music and teaching. They perceived that they were able to influence the working situation and as a result were less frustrated and felt more content with their working environment. This may, in the long term, lead to perceived better health.

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