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History of Playing-related Pain in 330 University Freshman Music Students

Alice G. Brandfonbrener
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 24 Number 1: Page 30 (March 2009)

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Abstract: To understand what factors may contribute to the problems experienced by conservatory/music school students, we surveyed incoming freshman music students about their history of playing-related pain from four consecutive entering classes at a midwestern university school of music. A total of 330 students (46% male, 54% female) participated in the study and completed a 22-item questionnaire. Seventy-nine percent of students reported a history of playing-related pain. Pain frequency varied by instrument class, ranging from 61% among voice students to 100% for percussionists, but for strings, keyboards, woodwinds, and brass players, it was consistently 84 to 87%. There was no significant association between frequency of pain history and gender (76% for males vs 81% for females), years of instrument study, participation in regular exercise, or occurrence of performance anxiety. Although this study was unable to identify factors linked to playing-related pain, it does indicate that in a population of incoming freshmen, who are young people presumably in otherwise good health and with a "clean slate," the majority had already encountered music-induced pain as high school students or younger.

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