Musicians need therapy too

Last in a series of articles on music as therapy, and music as medicine.

What do musicians and athletes have in common? They may overuse muscles in the course of their work and require medical attention. When the therapy is needed for a musician or other type of performer, it falls under the broad category of “music therapy.” In this, the last in the series of three articles on music therapy, we look at not how music can be therapy, but how those performing the music may need therapy.

Music therapy can take many routes, and it can involve many types of therapists, including those who deal with musicians and dancers. Those practitioners may be part of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA,) , which describes itself as “an international member organization comprised of dedicated physicians, therapists, trainers, educators and administrators, as well as performers and students with the common goal of improving the well-being of performing artists.”  Many PAMA members have written extensively to help educate other performers, as well as health professionals, about this important work.

Studies and publications deal with such issues as postural problems, music therapy for developing self-confidence in performers, voice care, the importance of physical fitness to performance, injury prevention, and stress and anxiety as it applies to performers. Many of these apply to all performers while others are specific to a discipline, or an instrument. You can learn more about these PAMA member publications here.

Many musicians themselves may not be aware of the connections between their art and their health, so it is up to the health professional to be aware of the complexities that may affect the performer’s work—both physically and mentally. Often it is the front line [office] staff who will flag something the health care professional needs to be aware of. This is where educational conferences and symposiums can be of great benefit to the practitioner, and to those who work with them. These educational events are held in various locations throughout the world.

One event that may be of particular interest is the 30th Annual PAMA Symposium on “Medical Problems of Performing Artists:  Performing Arts Medicine, Past, Present, and Future.” This is being held July 26-29, 2012 in Snowmass, Colorado.  The symposium is in conjunction with the Aspen Music Festival and School.

It is very fitting to have this symposium in conjunction with a music festival. Just as music therapists can bring new understanding as to how music can be used as therapy or medicine for particular illnesses, therapy for the musician or performer is equally important, and cannot be overlooked. PAMA understands this, and hopes that other health professionals do as well.

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