Music Teacher health & wellness

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ASPA Rationale

Research since the late 1980s has consistently demonstrated that the occupational injury rate among musicians and music students is as high as 85% if one includes both musculoskeletal pain syndromes and psychological issues. This alone is reason enough to include musical health and well-being information in the education of all college-level music students, as is now required for accreditation by NASM.

Perhaps more cogent for the teacher preparation curriculum, however, is the need for music teachers to be educated for their own health and well-being. Though music teacher attrition is not strongly linked to health per se in the literature, music teachers are known to be at high risk for many occupational health issues that can affect career longevity. This is true of musculoskeletal disorders–conductors have shoulder problems, string teachers experience musculotendinous pain syndromes from tuning lots of instruments, and band directors have back problems from moving equipment.

Ironically, music teachers suffer vocal disorders not from singing, but from speaking, and speaking to larger groups of students than do teachers of other disciplines. Career-ending noise-induced hearing loss is a risk particularly for band directors with a high number of young brass players in small spaces.  Since mental and physical health problems are often highly correlated, it’s probable that all of these issues could contribute to burnout–or vice versa–with the psychosocial issues that music teachers face today, while also using depression rehab centers for teenagers for the most serious depression cases.

We as a profession have been slow to accept the relevance of physical and mental embodiment to the art of music teaching.  We have an ethical imperative to include issues of health and well-being in the discourse of music teacher education–for the longevity of our students’ careers as well as the longevity of our profession.  We propose a new ASPA–Music Teacher Health and Well-Being–be created to explore these issues for the good of us all.

Relationship to ASPA Goals

  • To foster collaborative efforts among music teacher educators and those interested in the recruitment, preparation, and professional development of music teachers;

To date, as described above, there has been little (but growing) scholarly interest among music teacher educators in this topic, despite the fact that the New Handbook of Research in Music Teaching and Learning (Colwell and Richardson, 2002) had two chapters dedicated to it (Brandfonbrener, 2002; Chesky, 2002).  However, scholars in other educational fields have taken increasing interest in the role of the body in the arts, with all that entails (Paparo, 2013; Bresler).  At the same time, health professionals in performing arts medicine have called for collaboration with musicians and music teachers in developing preventative practices to reduce injury rates in themselves and their students.  Through our conversations with other MTE’s, we believe that we may be approaching critical mass in developing such collaborations, and believe that this ASPA is one way of doing so.

  • To promote activities in research, the identification and dissemination of bestpractices, and policy analysis on behalf of music teacher education;

There is an increasing amount of research on health and safety among music students and some on music teaching (e.g.,Rardin, 2007; Palac, 2012; Diaz, 2013; Bernhard,2017; Russell & Benedetto, 2014), but very little on pre-service or in-service music teacher education.  Because most of the extant research is outside of music education, establishment and dissemination of best practices has been slow.  Though the NASM standards mandate education in health and safety for all music students, there is no particular application to music teacher education.  The current set of National Standards in Arts Education contains health and safety standards in art and dance, but not in music.  Only three states have at least one standard on musical health and safety.

Health and safety have long been considered to be somewhat outside the purview of music education (although recent publications indicate that this may be changing [e.g., Johnston, 2017; Bernhard, 2017; Taylor, 2016]).  However, injury rates among K-12 music students and teachers range from 33-85%, and research indicates that many college students come to music school already injured (Brandfonbrener, 2009).  Since school music educators are usually, in this country, the first interface between students and music, the best practice cycle needs to start with them in pre-service music education.

  • To sustain these activities in order to build a more coherent and systematic base ofknowledge in music teacher education (convening on an annual basis at the SMTE Symposia in odd‐numbered years and during the MENC Biennial Conference ineven‐numbered years);

The existence of this ASPA signifies the need for this knowledge in music teacher education and will help to coalesce knowledge in music health and safety from all sources to help develop best practices.

  • To produce substantive and useful work that can be disseminated within SMTE and to broader audiences.

SMTE would seem to be the natural home for this ASPA as it has the resources and reputation to disseminate this knowledge under the umbrella of NAfME, through JMTE and other publications.  There is also the possibility that it could be affiliated, at some point, with the Performing Arts Medicine Association.

References

Bernhard, C.  (2017). Contemplative practices in music education.  New Directions in Music Education, no. 3.

Brandfonbrener, A. G., & Lederman, R. J.  (2002).  Performing arts medicine.  In R. Colwell & C. Richardson (Eds.), The new handbook of research on music teaching and learning (pp.  1009-1022).  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Brandfonbrener, A.  (2009).  History of playing-related pain in 330 university freshman music students.  Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 24(1), 30-36.

Bresler, L., (Ed.) 2004.  Knowing bodies, moving minds: Towards embodied teaching and learning.  Springer.

Chesky, K., Kondraske, G. V., Henoch, M., Hipple, J., & Rubin, B.  (2002).  Musicians’ health.  In R. Colwell & C.  Richardson (Eds.), The new handbook of research on music teaching and learning (pp.  1023-1039).  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Diaz, F. M. (2018). Relationships between meditation, perfectionism, mindfulness, and performance anxiety among collegiate music students. Journal of Research in Music Education, 66(2), 150-167. On-line version published April 10, 2018, doi/full/10.1177/0022429418765447

Johnston, R. (2017). One teacher’s experience of voice disorder and its implication for music educators. New Directions in Music Education, no. 3.

Palac, J. (2012). Forum: Music wellness: Opportunities for string researchers. String Research Journal, III.

Paparo, S. (2016). Embodying singing in the choral classroom: A somatic approach to teaching and learning. International Journal of Music Education, 34 (4), 488-498.

Rardin, M.A.  (2007).  The effects of an injury prevention intervention on playing-related pain, tension, and attitudes in the high school orchestra classroom.  (Doctoral Dissertation).  Retrieved from UMI/Proquest. (3291813).

Russell, J.A., & Benedetto, R. (2014). Perceived musculoskeletal discomfort among elementary, middle, and high school string players. Journal of Research in Music Education,62 (3), 259-276 .https://doi.org/10.1177/0022429414543307

Taylor, N. (2016). Teaching healthy musicianship:  The music educator’s guide to injury prevention and wellness. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rardin, M.A.  (2007).  The effects of an injury prevention intervention on playing-related pain, tension, and attitudes in the high school orchestra classroom.  (Doctoral Dissertation).  Retrieved from UMI/Proquest. (3291813).

Russell, J.A., & Benedetto, R. (2014). Perceived musculoskeletal discomfort among elementary, middle, and high school string players. Journal of Research in Music Education,62 (3), 259-276 .https://doi.org/10.1177/0022429414543307Taylor, N. (2016). Teaching healthy musicianship:  The music educator’s guide to injury prevention and wellness. New York: Oxford University Press.