A partnership between the Texas Center of Performing Arts Health and the National Institutes of Health began in December 2018 to create educational materials featuring NIH resources such as MedlinePlus and PubMed to bring awareness to their roles in information dissemination regarding musician injuries. Two doctoral students, Kensley Behel and Meghan Taylor, were funded alongside Dr. Sajid Surve from the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health. Brian Leaf, the Community Engagement Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine rounded out the team.
The four narrowed the varied field of performing arts health to four crucial sub-categories to better streamline the materials that would have the greatest impact on students, parents, educators, and administrators: musculoskeletal health, hearing health, performance anxiety, and vocal health. Each of the two graduate students took on two categories a piece and co-authored a booklet entitled, Musician Health: A Primer and Resource Guide.
The team headed to the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) on the 13th of February to set-up an interactive booth filled with plushies, petri dishes, anatomical models, and dynamometers. A clarinet mouthpiece and cork had been tested days earlier so that the participants at the convention could see first-hand the importance of proper care and cleaning habits necessary to help prevent possible respiratory function disorders. Lightning talks were given in musculoskeletal health, hearing health, and performance anxiety throughout the conference to better inform participants about current research and preventative methods that could be employed in his/her own practice as either a performer or educator. The dynamometer was the most popular attraction at the booth. Boys, girls, men, and women of all ages chose to take a seat to measure his/her grip strength as an overall measure of health. Each day, running tallies were taken to see who was the strongest. Many came back multiple times to try and one-up the person at the top. Most importantly, the comradery and team-effort that unfolded for a purpose greater than one or two organizations helped provide life-changing and career-enhancing information to the largest state music conference in the country.
Current information on this project can be found here: https://nnlm.gov/scr/initiatives/performingartshealth