Arts Medecine journal N°89 music students

Arts Medecine journal N°89 music studentsArtists' health, musician's health

Issue 89. music students
Medical and scientific approach to artistic practices

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An issue of the Journal of Arts Medicine on the health of the music student

Edito Arts Medecine N°89

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The High Prevalence of Playing-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (PRMDs) and its Associated Factors in Amateur Musicians Playing in Student Orchestras

Understanding Wellbeing Among College Music Students and Amateur Musicians in Western Switzerland

Musical performance requires the ability to master a complex integration of highly specialized motor, cognitive, and perceptual skills developed over years of practice. It often means also being able to deal with considerable pressure within dynamic environments. Consequently, many musicians suffer from health-related problems and report a large number of physical and psychological complaints.

Our research aimed to evaluate and analyze the wellbeing of two distinct groups of musicians, college music students and amateur performers in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. A total sample of 126 musicians was recruited for the study (mean age ± SD = 22.4 ± 4.5 years, 71 male). Wellbeing was assessed through the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF questionnaire evaluating two general measures, quality of life (QoL) and general health, and four specific dimensions: physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environment. For both groups, respondents’ QoL was high on each measure: median scores were higher than 4 for the two general measures and higher than 70 for the four specific dimensions. Among the dimensions, respondents had the highest mean score for environment (75.0), then social relationships and physical health (74.0 and 73.8, respectively), and finally, psychological health (70.3). Differences between groups of musicians emerged in terms of overall QoL and general health, as well as the physical health dimension, where college music students scored lower than the amateur musicians; conversely, college music students scored higher than the amateurs on social relationships.

Our overview of musicians’ wellbeing in Western Switzerland demonstrates that, while music making can offer some health protective effects, there is a need for greater health awareness and promotion among advanced music students. This research offers insight into musicians’ wellbeing and points to the importance of involving different actors (teachers, administrators, support staff) in facilitating healthy music making.


Finger Forces in Clarinet Playing

Biomechanics of clarinet playing

Clarinetists close and open multiple tone holes to alter the pitch of the tones.Their fingering technique must be fast, precise, and coordinated with the tongue articulation.

In this empirical study, finger force profiles and tongue techniques of clarinet students (N = 17) and professional clarinetists (N = 6) were investigated under controlled performance conditions.
First, in an expressive-performance task, eight selected excerpts from the first Weber Concerto were performed. These excerpts were chosen to fit in a 2 × 2 × 2 design (register: low-high; tempo: slow-fast; dynamics: soft-loud). There was an additional condition controlled by the experimenter, which determined the expression levels (low-high) of the performers.
Second, a technical-exercise task, an isochronous 23-tone melody was designed that required different effectors to produce the sequence (finger-only, tongue-only, combined tongue-finger actions). The melody was performed in three tempo conditions (slow, medium, fast) in a synchronization-continuation paradigm. Participants played on a sensor-equipped Viennese clarinet, which tracked finger forces and reed oscillations simultaneously. From the data, average finger force (Fmean) and peakforce (Fmax) were calculated. The overall finger forces were low (Fmean = 1.17 N, Fmax = 3.05 N) compared to those on other musical instruments (e.g., guitar). Participants applied the largest finger forces during the high expression level performance conditions (Fmean = 1.21 N). For the technical exercise task, timing and articulation information were extracted from the reed signal.

Here, the timing precision of the fingers deteriorated the timing precision of the tongue for combined tongue-finger actions, especially for faster tempi. Although individual finger force profiles were overlapping, the group of professional players applied less finger force overall (Fmean = 0.54 N). Such sensor instruments provide useful insights into player-instrument interactions and can also be used in the future to give feedback to students in various learning and practising situations.


Is There a Link between the Health of an Artist, Membership in a Family of Artists, and Self-positioning with respect to One’s Artistic Ideal?

The influence of the family environment on the musician's health and artistic ideal

Portrait of the artist as a worker N°89

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