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The Experience of Occupational Disruption among Student Musicians

Shannon McCready, Denise Reid
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 22 Number 4: Page 140 (December 2007)

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Abstract: Student musicians frequently need to take breaks from playing their instruments because of physical playing-related injuries, yet little is known about their experiences with these occupational disruptions. We conducted a qualitative study that explored student musicians¿ lived experiences with unplanned disruptions stemming from engagement in their major occupation of playing an instrument. In-depth interviews with seven student musicians who attended either a special arts high school or a university were conducted. Consistent with a grounded theory approach to qualitative research, the constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis was implemented. A major finding related to the theme of ¿being and becoming,¿ where student musicians expressed a strong sense of belonging to a group of other like musicians who they learned from, relied on for support, and created music with. Another theme was motivation to excel, where students expressed a strong desire and motivation to improve and master their instrument. Occupational tensions and pressures emerged as another theme. Students were aware of the need to practice and the need to care for their bodies. A constant negotiation was required in which students struggled to find a good balance between the need to practice and to respect their bodies while maintaining an identity of a musician. These findings are discussed in relation to how health care providers and educators need to understand the demands and stresses associated with playing an instrument so that they can better support these young musicians.

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