Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Why Music Majors Pursue Music Despite the Risk of Playing-related Injuries

Anna Park, Christine Guptill, Thelma Sumsion
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 22 Number 3: Page 89 (September 2007)

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Abstract: Music is an occupation that has existed across cultures and societies for millennia. What music means and how it is used differ depending on the context of an individual¿s life. University music majors often pursue music as a future career goal, despite the fact that playing-related injuries are a significant risk for this population and could end their careers. The purpose of this study was to investigate why university music majors pursue music despite the risk of playing-related injuries. This qualitative study used a naturalistic approach and focus groups to collect data. Nine students participated in two focus group sessions. The data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed for themes. The results of the study indicate that both personal and environmental factors influence the participants¿ decision to continue to participate in music. Some students also were willing to play through pain, which is contrary to Maslow¿s theory of human needs, and many students experienced difficulties accessing desirable health care. Although an injury could terminate a student¿s ability to participate in music, the occupation of music itself transcended this danger. For several musicians, quitting was not a desirable option. These findings have clinical implications for health care workers with respect to modifying treatment to address musicians¿ specialized needs. Occupational therapists use a holistic and client-centered approach to care and offer interventions such as compensatory techniques, assistive devices, and methods of energy conservation that may facilitate continuing with this valued occupation.

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