Healthy Musicianship

To assist music students, faculty, and staff in protecting their health, the School of Music shall has adopted a multi-faceted approach to providing appropriate information, instruction, and referral to qualified health professionals to each student, faculty member, and staff member with regards to the specific health and safety concerns related to the study and performance of music. Specific means for the provision of information include:

 1) A statement regarding musician's health and hearing in every syllabus for every course that includes the practice and performance of music (such as studio and ensemble courses) and for every course that involves the use of audio equipment beyond routine in-class listening (such as music technology and recording arts courses): 

"The study, practice, and performance of music can lead to specific hearing, vocal, and musculoskeletal injuries. While the faculty member will provide specific information related to musician's health as appropriate to this course, it is fundamentally the responsibility of the individual student to avoid risk and prevent injury. Faculty members are neither responsible nor qualified to dispense specific medical advice."

 2) An informational session at the beginning of each Fall semester for all new students, to which continuing students are also invited. This meeting shall be held at a time that does not conflict with regularly scheduled classes for music majors or minors, and faculty shall refrain from scheduling lessons or meetings with students that might prevent their attendance.

 3) A page on the School of Music's website that outlines potential music-related injuries and hearing loss, with guidelines for avoiding damage and contact information for qualified on-campus and regional health professionals.  Click here for this link.

 4) For students who operate specific machinery related to operations of the School of Music, such as the liftgate on a truck or other power equipment, or raising and lowering of risers and acoustical shells in the recital hall, specific training shall be given, and guidelines for safe use shall be posted as appropriate.

 5) Provide free hearing tests annually for students, faculty, and staff, in conjunction with the Speech and Hearing program on campus.

 6) Provide and encourage the use of free earplugs in those ensembles in which sound levels typically approach thresholds for hearing loss.

NASM Standards for Health and Safety

 In November 2012, our accrediting agency, the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), revised its standards regarding health and safety of music students, faculty, and staff. The following are the relevant passages from a larger section on facilities, health, and safety from the NASM Handbook 2011-12.

Standard II.F.1.i

 Students enrolled in music unit programs and faculty and staff with employment status in the musit unit must be provided basic information about the maintenance of health and safety within the contexts of practice, performance, teaching, and listening."

 For music majors and music faculty and staff, general topics include, but are not limited to, basic information regarding the maintenance of hearing, vocal, and musculoskeletal health and injury prevention. They also include instruction on the use, proper handling, and operation of potentially dangerous materials, equipment, and technology as applicable to specific program offerings or experiences. Beyond the provision of basic general information, and the identification of available resources, decisions regarding topic areas and breadth and depth are made by the institution, and normally are correlated with the nature, content, and requirements of specific areas of specialization or specific courses of study.

 For non-majors enrolled in courses offered by the music unit, including performing ensembles, or other curricular offerings of the music unity, topics chosen in addition to the maintenance of hearing health are directly related to health and safety issues associated with their specific area of study or activity in music.

 Music program policies, protocols, and operations must reflect attention to maintenance of health and injury prevention and to the relationhips among: the health and safety of musicians; suitable choices of equipment and technology for various specific purposes; appropriate and safe operation of equipment and technology; and the acoustic and other conditions associated with health and safety in practice, rehearsal, performance, and facilities.

 Specific methods of providing information and addressing injury prevention, technology, and facilities are the prerogative and responsibility of the institution.

 NOTE: Health and safety depend in large part on the personal decisions of informed individuals. Institutions have health and safety responsibilities, but fulfillment of these responsibilities cannot and will not ensure any specific individual's health and safety. Too many factors beyond any institution's control are involved. Individuals have a critically important role and each is personally responsible for avoiding risk and preventing injuries to themselves before, during, and after study or employment at any institution. The NASM standards above and applicable guidelines below, and institutional action taken under their influence or independently do not relieve the individual from personal responsibility for appropriate, prudent, and safe behavior or action, nor do they shift such responsibility and liability for the consequences of inappropriate, imprudent and/or unsafe behavior or action in any instance or over time to any institution, or to NASM.

Standard II.F.2.

 c. Normally, institutions or music programs (1) have policies and protocols that maintain strict distinctions between the provision of general musicians' health information in the music program, and the specific diagnosis and treatment of individuals by licensed medical professionals and (2) identify for the benefit of students and other personnel as appropriate or as requested, resources that will enable them to make contact with such professionals for specific treatment or other medical care.

 d. Normally, institutions and music programs develop their specific methods for addressing the maintenance of health and safety in consultation with qualified professionals, for example, licensed medical personnel and/or authoritative sources providing information to students and faculty regarding the maintenance of professional health and the prevention of performance injuries.


Copyright by Western Carolina University      •      Cullowhee, NC 28723      •      828.227.7211      •      Contact WCU
Maintained by the Office of Web Services      •      Directions      •      Campus Map      •      Emergency Information      •      Text-Only

Office of Web Services