The Anderson University Music Department values the health and safety of our faculty, students, staff, and community members. Our concern for your health as musicians is supported by the National Association of Schools of Music, which establishes standards and provides resources on the maintenance of hearing, vocal, and musculoskeletal health and injury prevention. In addition to this webpage and accompanying links, information on musician’s health is provided in Music Department syllabi and course documents, and presented in ongoing workshops and seminars.
Research tells us that exposure to loud volumes of sound over extended periods of time will lead to hearing loss. Recommendations for reducing risks include keeping volume of sound below 85 decibels, and using ear plugs that reduce volume while retaining quality of sound over the spectrum of hearing. Two important things to remember:
- The longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the greater the potential for hearing loss.
- The closer you are to the source of a loud noise, the greater the risk that you’ll experience some damage to your hearing mechanisms.
Consider these common sounds, their corresponding decibel levels, and the recommended maximum exposure times established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
|Sound||Intensity (dB)||Maximum Recommended Exposure (approx)*|
|A Whisper||30||Safe, No Maximum|
|Rainfall (moderate)||50||Safe, No Maximum|
|Conversation (average)||60||Safe, No Maximum|
|Freeway Traffic||70||Safe, No Maximum|
|Alarm Clock||80||Safe, No Maximum|
|85||Potential Damage Threshold|
|Blender, Blow-dryer||90||2 hours|
|MP3 Player (full volume), Lawnmower||100||15 minutes|
|Rock Concerts, Power Tools||110||2 minutes|
|Jet Plane at Takeoff||120||Unsafe, Immediate Risk|
|Sirens, Jackhammers||130||Unsafe, Immediate Risk|
|Gunshots, Fireworks (close range)||140||Unsafe, Immediate Risk|
*NIOSH-recommended exposure limit
For more information on maintaining hearing health, visit the resources below:
Vocal health is important for all musicians and essential to lifelong success for singers. Understanding basic care of the voice is essential for musicians who speak, sing, and rehearse or teach others. Musicians can maintain vocal health by mindful application of the following principles:
- Sufficient warm-up time is important.
- Begin warming up mid-range, and then slowly work outward to vocal pitch extremes.
- Proper alignment, adequate breath support, and correct physical technique are essential.
- Regular breaks during practice and rehearsal are vital in order to prevent undue physical or vocal stress and strain.
- It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time that you will practice in a day.
- Avoid sudden increases in practice times.
- Know your voice and its limits, and avoid overdoing it or misusing it.
- Maintain healthy habits.
- Safeguard your physical and mental health.
- Drink plenty of water in order to keep your vocal folds adequately lubricated.
- Limit your use of alcohol, and avoid smoking.
For more information on maintaining vocal health, visit the following resources:
As musicians, it’s vital that you protect your neuromusculoskeletal health whenever possible. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- When possible, avoid situations that put your neuromusculoskeletal health at risk.
- Refrain from behaviors that could compromise your neuromusculoskeletal health and the health of others.
- Warm up before you practice and perform.
- Take regular breaks from practice and rehearsal. A good rule of thumb is a 5-minute rest every half hour.
- Limit excessive practice time.
- Avoid excessive repetition of difficult music, especially if progress is slow.
- Insomuch as possible, avoid playing and/or singing music that is beyond your physical abilities or outside your natural range.
- Refrain from sudden increases in practice and playing time.
- Maintain good posture in life and when you practice and perform music. Be mindful of alignment, balance, and weight distribution.
- Use external support mechanisms, such as shoulder rests, neck straps, and flute crutches, when necessary.
- Maintain good “mental hygiene.” Get adequate sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise.
- Refrain from recreational drug use, excessive alcohol use, and smoking.
- Do your best to limit and control stressors. Plan ahead.
- Give yourself time to relax.
For more information on Neuromusculoskeletal health, visit the following resources:
Faculty and Staff Information
The following resources are recommended for faculty and staff:
Performing Arts Medicine Association
For more information on research and best practices regarding musician's health, the Performing Arts Medicine Association at http://www.artsmed.org
National Association of Schools of Music
For a complete listing of NASM resources that support musician's health, visit:
Webpage information cited from the National Association of Schools of Music: