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Health promotion in schools of music: the impacts on college faculty.

While in college, majoring in piano performance, not one word was ever mentioned about injury prevention, ways to handle performance anxiety or how musicians can protect themselves from the many risk factors that can endanger one's future as a musician. Various studies have been published over the years clearly demonstrating the need for more wellness information. In 1986, Hunter Fry, M.D., documented his results of a survey of 7 symphony orchestras indicating a 50 percent incidence of overuse syndrome in orchestral players. In 1987, Martin Fishbein, along with other authors, published the now famous ICSOM (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians) study, which surveyed forty-seven U.S. orchestras stating that 76 percent of musicians reported at least one medical problem severe enough to affect performance; the numbers have not significantly improved since these studies were published.

An unprecedented meeting of medical professionals and musicians took place in September 2004, in Fort Worth, Texas. MTNA was one of twenty-three organizations, partnering with the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) and the Texas Center for Music and Medicine at the University of North Texas, in response to a National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) directive to include health information in every music curriculum. This charge to our educational institutions arose from a clear need to better educate future artists and teachers about the risks associated with learning and performing music and how to maintain their physical and psychological well-being. This is a long-overdue mandate that hopefully will provide today's students with information that will help keep future generations healthy and productive. With substantial financial support from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the International Music Products Association, the International Foundation for Music Research and the National Endowment for the Arts, significant progress was made toward developing a nationally implemented health communication module for music schools across the country.

The Health Promotion in Schools of Music (HPSM) conference, consisting of three intense days of lectures and thought-provoking discussions, included comprehensive presentations by task force groups organized into four areas--physical health, mental health, audiological health and vocal health. The overall goal was to initiate the development of a core content that will be distributed to all NASM-affiliated institutions. For those in attendance, this meeting provided an incredibly stimulating and educational experience.

The stated four-fold mission of the conference:

To initiate the development of core materials for health promotion materials specifically for NASM school students, increase NASM school administrators' and faculty awareness of and ability to access resources for students, develop unity and provide a foundation for future research and policy development. It is our charge that participants will be empowered to implement NASM guidelines with effective and sustainable resources.

A number of pioneering colleges already have implemented wellness courses into their curriculum, empowering their students with information to keep them healthy and musically productive. These schools are encouraged to further develop these courses based on the curriculum that arises from this project. It is recommended that all institutions begin seeking creative ways to incorporate this information, whether within the content of pedagogy courses, applied lessons or specially designated wellness courses. College faculty are encouraged to discuss these issues with their directors, deans and curriculum committee members, urging the adoption of the concept of a wellness curriculum and, when it becomes available, integrating the actual core curriculum, as recommended by known experts in the performing arts medicine field.

Meanwhile, we can continue to broaden our own knowledge about the important topic of musician wellness by accessing these excellent resources:

1. www.unt.edu/hpsm

Monitor the HPSM website for additional information. Further development of core curriculum material will be forthcoming from this meeting, posted online and presented later to NASM member schools.

2. www.mtna.org/mwbl.htm

Access the MTNA website for MTNA's Musician Wellness Bibliography: This annotated and indexed bibliography has been compiled by Linda Cockey, professor of piano at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, and includes book, journal and website entrees relevant to all disciplines.

3. www.francesclarkcenter.org/ NationalConferencePages/resources/ wellnessResources.html

Check out the Frances Clark Center's website to access a piano pedagogy wellness curriculum. This newly posted resource includes an outline of essential topics, plus questions to stimulate class discussion and resources for additional information.

4. Read the series of articles "Essential Skills for Promoting a Lifelong Love of Music and Music Making," being published this year in four consecutive issues of American Music Teacher, (February/March, April/May, June/July and August/September). These articles discuss ten skills that can provide the keys toward productive, injury-free and joyous music making.

5. Peruse issues of Medical Problems for Performing Artists, a quarterly journal on the topic of performing arts medicine, edited by renowned arts medicine physician, Alice Brandfonbrener, M.D. This outstanding professional journal can be found in most university libraries or located through inter-library loan.

MTNA has long acknowledged the importance of wellness education through its commitment to publish a Musician Wellnes Bibliography and the series on essential skills, the inclusion of a variety of wellness sessions in each of our national conferences and this recent decision to partner with and send a representative to the HPSM conference. By providing these educational resources, teachers from all disciplines working with all levels of students are offered opportunities to further educate themselves in this important subject matter. Kudos to MTNA for having the insight to support its members and their students in pursuit of a lifetime of healthy and joyful music making!

Gail Berenson, NCTM, is MTNA president-elect. Formerly MTNA vice president and Ohio MTNA president, she is professor of piano and chair of the keyboard division at Ohio University in Athens.
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Title Annotation:Forum Focus: College Faculty
Author:Berenson, Gail
Publication:American Music Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:945
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