Performing Arts Medicine has caught interest in the medical field within the last couple decades. Previously, musicians would suffer pain and injury, seeking help from physicians who often lacked understanding of the physicality involved in playing an instrument. The effects of playing related injuries can be incapacitating and even career ending.
In 1926, James Frederick Rogers wrote in his article “The Health of Musicians” that the average age for an oboist to retire was thirty-five due to strain on the body. In modern society, musicians are expected to have more extensive career longevity. The human body hasn’t changed in its construction but the expectations for endurance have escalated. The technique required in many modern compositions and the high intensity of a professional career require significant resilience and agility. How can an oboist maintain good health and remain injury free under such strain and pressure?
When I started to play the oboe again, after a ten year break for motherhood, I was met with a myriad of medical issues. My thirty-something body was not as resilient as my twenty-something body had been. Step by step through the help of doctors, physical therapists, nutritional coaches, allergists, web searches, and the recommendations of fellow musicians, I tediously researched options for resolution and pain relief. Answers were found very slowly and in relatively inefficient ways.
My aim in compiling this bibliography was to provide a simplified resource for those experiencing instrument-induced ailments, to help others find answers with greater ease and help them feel empowered in the diagnosis process. The ultimate goal would be that someone who is experiencing wrist pain, for example, could go through the list of sources and better understand the difference between tendinitis, arthritis, and carpal tunnel. And based on that understanding, find ways to amend lifestyle and practice habits, find treatment resources and improve self-care in ways that have proven effective specifically for oboists.
In regards to inclusions, the subjects and categories chosen were deliberate. Alexander Technique and body mapping are widely used to help musicians relieve painful symptoms resulting from poor body mechanics. Surveys of music students and symphony musicians, each involving oboists, were included to present commonalities among instrumentalists experiencing pain and injury and reveal the importance of health education for students. Hearing loss is universal within an orchestra so it is a directly applicable topic (especially since we sit in front of the trumpets!)
Mental and emotional health, while important, were not included in the research in order to maintain focus on physical health. A couple resources in the bibliography did touch on emotional health but they were addressed in conjuction with the musculoskeletal system. Music therapy was also excluded in order to keep the focus on the oboist as the artist, rather than the effects of the oboe on others.
This is not a complete bibliography but a work in motion. Any further contributions from readers are welcome and encouraged.
The original turabian bibliography format has been adapted to work within a blog setting.