Texas Tech University

Health and Safety for the Music Student

The primary factor in your health and safety is YOU. Be responsible, make good choices, and be informed. The information below will outline musician-specific health and safety issues as you prepare for your career in music.

Hearing Health

Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician. Noise-induced hearing loss is largely preventable. You must avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time. The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing mechanisms. Sounds over 85 dB in intensity pose the greatest risk to your hearing. Risk of hearing loss is based on a combination of sound or loudness intensity and of duration. From the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the recommended maximum daily exposure times to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:

  • 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3 volume) – 8 hours
  • 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) – 2 hours
  • 94 dB (MP3 player at 1/2 volume) – 1 hour
  • 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume, lawnmower) – 15 minutes
  • 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) – 2 minutes
  • 120 dB (jet planes at take-off) – without ear protection, sound damage is almost immediate

Certain behaviors (e.g. controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, turning down the volume) reduce your risk of hearing loss. Be mindful of those MP3 earbuds! The use of earplugs and earmuffs can also help to protect your hearing health. Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now and in the future. Since sound exposure occurs in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own hearing health on a daily basis.

It is important to follow basic hearing health guidelines. It is also important to study this issue and to learn more. NASM and PAMA provide advisories and other information at this link.

If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, speak to a medical professional immediately.

Performance Health

Musicians use their bodies in specific and highly trained ways, and injuries can occur that can have a lasting impact on performance ability.

Performers need to be aware of vocal and musculoskeletal health issues that can affect them. Musicians at all levels of achievement can suffer from repetitive stress injuries, neuromuscular conditions or dystonias, and psychological issues including severe performance anxiety.

As health concerns can vary widely depending on performance area, your primary source of information regarding performance health and injury prevention will be your applied music instructor. The School of Music will also host many guest speakers and presenters to specifically address performance health, injury prevention, and treatment options.

If you are concerned about your health as a musician, or are experiencing discomfort in practice or performance, speak to a medical professional immediately.

Performance health resources for all musicians, regardless of area of study, include the following courses taught by School of Music faculty:

  • Yoga for Musicians – MUSI 2000-001 / 7000-001 (taught by Dr. Lisa Garner Santa)
  • Dimensions of Performance – MUAP 3101 / 5101 (taught by Dr. William Westney)

Resources — Books & Web Sites

Materials in the University Library (select list – browse the ML3820 area for more titles)

  • ML3820 .C752000 – Conable, Barbara. (2000) What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body: The Practical Application of Body Mapping to Making Music. Andover Press.
  • ML3820 .D38 2008 – Dawsom, William J. (2008) Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy. Rowman and Littlefield/MENC.
  • ML3820 .W27 2009 – Watson, Alan H.D. (2009) The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury. Scarecrow Press.

Web Sites

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique

Andover Educators (body mapping)

Dalcroze Society of America

The Feldenkrais Method

Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA)


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 can not 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 at any institution. The information above does not alter or cancel any individual's personal responsibility, or in any way shift personal responsibility for the results of any individual's personal decisions or actions in any instance or over time to any institution.


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