Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Health and Wellness Issues for Adult Band Musicians

Debbie Rohwer
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 23 Number 2: Page 54 (June 2008)

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Abstract: Because issues involved with playing an instrument may be complicated by the aging process, age may be an important variable to investigate in health studies. The current study examined the perceived health challenges of a group of adult instrumental musicians and possible accommodations for these challenges. Participants included 83 adult white musicians, aged 47 to 91 yrs, 52 females and 31 males, who were attending a national summer senior band camp. Fifty-two played woodwind and 31 brass or percussion instruments. The participants were given a questionnaire asking about (1) the degree of trouble with vision, hearing, finger/hand, arm/neck, back/leg, and other physical ailments while playing their instrument; (2) whether any pain experienced was greater when playing music than in everyday life; and (3) accommodations they may have found for any physical troubles they experienced. Visual problems when reading music were noted as the participants¿ greatest challenge, followed by finger/joint pain, hearing speech, and hand pain. Visual problems when reading music were a top concern across all instrument subgroups, followed by finger/joint pain for woodwind players, hearing speech for brass players, and both hand and finger/joint pain for percussionists. Accommodations for vision problems most commonly included placing the lens line higher on bifocal lenses so that both the conductor and music could be seen. Accommodations for ailments centered around two general issues: things a musician could buy (e.g., ear plugs, instrument rests, cushions) or things they could do to avoid pain (e.g., education, stretching).

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