Tertiary music students' experiences of an occupational health course incorporating the body mapping approach

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Salonen, Bridget Louise
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University of the Free State
The high prevalence of performance-related health problems (PRHPs) among musicians of diverse genres and cultures is well-documented, with lifetime prevalence rates showing that roughly 75% of musicians are affected, including tertiary and pretertiary student musicians, professionals and amateurs. Despite the well-established and multiple benefits of music for society, there are occupational risks, both neuromusculoskeletal and psychological. The literature underscores the need for a biopsychosocial perspective in the provision of musicians’ health education. Research on somatic educational practices demonstrates their suitability for addressing the postural, movement, musculoskeletal anatomy and proprioceptive training components. One of these practices, Body Mapping (BMg), focuses particularly on musicians’ needs and may be successfully incorporated into a musician’s health course. However, BMg is a relative newcomer among the established somatic approaches and little research has been done on the incorporation of BMg principles into music education. Due to the limited amount of research on the implementation and assessment of health education in tertiary musicians’ training, the purpose of this study is to focus on exploring the experiences of tertiary music students participating in an occupational health course, incorporating BMg as the somatic component. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was chosen for the thematic analysis of the interviews conducted. The aims of the study were to gain an understanding of the participants’ experiences and perceptions of the course, any changes that occurred, and of BMg as the somatic education component. The data analysis revealed four super-ordinate themes: panorama, physical awareness, psychological awareness and musicianship, supported by a total of 20 subordinate themes. Most importantly, the findings emphasise the reciprocal interactions of physiological, psychological, behavioural and musical aspects of music-making, and suggest that BMg may be highly effective in terms of the integrated teaching of musicians’ biopsychosocial and artistic requirements. The study underscores the need for musicians’ health education to be embedded in tertiary musicians’ training, the beneficial impacts of comprehensive musicians’ occupational health education, and the value of BMg as a somatic education component. The results provide information on essential course content, the advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration, the need for practical activities, the optimal duration, the value of peer learning and support, the importance of cooperation with music teachers, and the consideration of students’ motivation to attend and their readiness for change. The study also aims to raise awareness of the musicians’ health field in South Africa, and the critical need for further research, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the implementation of musicians’ occupational health education at tertiary institutions.
Performing arts health, Performance-related musculoskeletal disorders, Music performance, Music education, Performance psychology, Body Mapping, Somatic education, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Musicians’ health promotion, Thesis (Ph.D. (Music))--University of the Free State, 2018