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Resources for musicians' health and wellness

We are committed to healthy procedures in the study and practice of music.

We are committed to our students, faculty and staff to develop healthy procedures in the study and practice of music.

The ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre is required by the National Association of Schools of Music to inform students, faculty and staff of the health and safety issues, hazards, and procedures inherent in music practice, performance, teaching, and listening both in general and as applicable to their specific specializations. This includes but is not limited to basic information regarding the maintenance of hearing, vocal, and musculoskeletal health and injury prevention. This also includes instruction on the use, proper handling, and operation of potentially dangerous materials, equipment, and technology as applicable to specific program offerings or experiences.

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre has developed policies and procedures to guard against injury and illness in the study and practice of music, as well as to raise the awareness among our students, faculty and staff of the connections between musicians' health, the suitability and safety of equipment and technology, and the acoustic and other health-related conditions in the university's practice, rehearsal, and performance facilities.

It is important to note that the primary factor in your health and safety is you and depends largely on your personal decisions. You are personally responsible for avoiding risk and preventing injuries to yourself before, during, and after study at the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre. The policies and procedures developed by the School of Music, Dance and Theatre do not alter or cancel any individual's personal responsibility, or in any way shift personal responsibility for the results of any individual's personal decisions or actions in any instance or over time to the university.

Performance health

Anyone who practices, rehearses or performs instrumental or vocal music has the potential to suffer injury related to the activity. Students are encouraged to supplement information obtained in their lessons, master classes, and guest lectures regarding musicians' health and safety issues by utilizing some of the resources listed on this website.

Instrumental musicians are at risk for repetitive motion injuries or physical problems related to playing their instruments; and if they are also computer users, their risks are compounded. Instrumental injuries may include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis.

Likewise, the demands placed on singers' voices are vast. Singers can be forced to cancel a recital or tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocalists can suffer from vocal fatigue, anxiety, throat tension, and pain. Musicians use their bodies in specific and highly trained ways, and injuries can occur that can have lasting impact on performance ability. Performers need to be aware of vocal and musculoskeletal health issues that can affect them. Musicians at all levels of achievement can suffer from repetitive stress injuries, neuromuscular conditions or dystonias, and psychological issues including severe performance anxiety.

Incorrect posture, non-ergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause pain, disability, and the end of a musician's career. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a musician's ability to perform at their best.

  • Conable, B. What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body, (GIA Publications, 2000)
  • Dawson, W. J. Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician’s Guide to Playing Healthy, Rowman and Littlefield/MENC, 2008.
  • Horvath, J. Playing (Less) Hurt,
  • Klickstein, G. The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness (Oxford, 2009);
  • Norris, R. N. The Musician’s Survival Manual (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, 1993).
  • Watson, A. The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance Related Injury, Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Arizona State University’s Breastfeeding Support Committee provides nursing mothers with resources to support their breastfeeding needs. They provide informational resources on breastfeeding as well as clean, comfortable and private-designated spaces on ASU campuses. The School of Music, Dance and Theatre provides support to our students who are nursing mothers. Individuals who do not already have access to a private space (ex. TA office) for may request temporary access to a room in the music building for this use by contacting the School of Music, Dance and Theatre administrative staff.

Although Arizona State University’s practice, rehearsal, and performance facilities meet OSHA Noise Standards, students must be mindful of exposure to excessive noise levels for extended periods of time. OSHA guidelines define excessive noise levels as 90 decibels or higher for more than 8 hours. Please see below for decibel levels specific to musical performance and listening.

Decibel comparison chart

Chart: musical decibel levels

Students working as stage managers in our concert halls complete a training session on how to safely move the grand pianos on stage.

Students working as audio/recording technicians complete a training session on how to safely use the sound system and recording equipment, and how to safely lift and carry stage monitors.