It’s been almost a year since Dr. Kris Chesky traveled to South Africa as the keynote speaker for two different conferences, but the impact his presentations made are long lasting. The first conference was aimed at examining the state of higher education in general, and the second was specifically a performing arts health symposium. You can see video of his address to the first conference here:

Dr. Chesky also took the opportunity while in South Africa to wow audiences with his superb jazz trumpet playing during two concerts hosted by the conference organizers. Of the events, Chesky reminisced, “It was such an amazing experience to be on stage with these people I’d never met, never played with, and yet we were totally in sync with one another. The music really transcended all potential barriers.”

The Texas Center for Performing Arts Health is excited to introduce two new clinical collaborators to our center. Dr. Lindsay Ramey and Dr. Jennifer Yang are both physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, and are the newest collaborators with TCPAH. Both women have backgrounds as performers: Dr. Ramey as a dancer, and Dr. Yang as a pianist and singer, providing a personalized experience to their students and patients. As our reach grows, we hope to be able to offer student health services similar to those available at UNT for other higher education institutions in the metroplex, and Drs. Ramey and Yang will play a large role in fulfilling that goal. We welcome our new clinical collaborators and look forward to the Performing Arts Health work we will do together.

Dr. Eric M. Nestler, Professor of Instrumental Studies and renowned saxophonist, has just published a new article in The Saxophone Symposium: Journal of the North American Saxophone Alliance. “The Nightmare of Musician’s Dystonia: A New Dawn of Hope for Treatment,” is a scholarly recounting of Dr. Nestler’s very personal journey of living with dystonia, the treatments available, and the stories of others on the same path. As he defines it in the paper, dystonia is a disorder affecting the nervous system, in which the brain sends the wrong signals to muscles, causing them to contract involuntarily.

After a rapid decline in his ability to play his saxophone, Dr. Nestler was diagnosed with dystonia in 2009 and has spent the past eight years seeking treatment in order to return to the performing career he once enjoyed. Luckily, some of that treatment was found in his own backyard with the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health co-director, Dr. Sajid Surve. Dr. Nestler highlights how his work with Dr. Surve at the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic of the University of North Texas Health Science Center helped him regain the necessary muscle control for proper saxophone embouchure. He was even able to return to performing in 2014, and continues to discover new ways to practice in order to help him overcome the difficulties of dystonia. The Texas Center for Performing Arts Health congratulates Dr. Nestler on the new publication and on his continuing recovery.

David Bracken, MD
Senior Resident: University fo California
San Diego, Dept. of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery

8:00AM — Intersection of Medicine and the Performing Arts

A discussion of the history, unique medical conditions encountered by musicians, and possible roles for musical artists can play in the field.
Room 287

9:30 AM — Laryngeal Form and Function: Vocalist to ENT

A discussion of journey from Vocal Performance to Medicine; an ENT perspective in the approach of care and treatment of the voice; and insights of laryngeal anatomy in vocal technique.
Room 289

Dr. Stephen F. Austin, Professor of Voice and collaborator with the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health, has recently released Provenance: Historic Voice Pedagogy Viewed through a Contemporary Lens. This book is an anthology of articles originally written for the Journal of Singing over the course of eleven years. Provenance connects historic vocal pedagogical writings with the wisdom of today, often using facsimile and translation of original sources to remind singers and voice teachers alike of the wealth of knowledge already in existence. Dr. Austin’s background in voice science leads to enlightening commentary, expanding our understanding of the ‘Old Masters’ such as Manuel Garcia, Lamperti, Bassini, Stockhausen and others. Dr. Scott McCoy of Ohio State University praises the new volume, saying, “Each new generation of singing teachers seems to think it must ‘reinvent the wheel’: Austin clearly proves that there is an alternate, more effective path to vocal excellence.” Provenance is published by Inside View Press, and may be purchased at . Stay tuned for information regarding a second volume of work designed as a companion book, in which Dr. Austin uses his clear, distinct approach to teaching voice in a step-by-step historically based vocal method.


By Jan Jarvis – Tightness in her hip flexors made leaps excruciating for Hannah Requa, a professional dancer who spends much of her day on her toes.

She was hardly a stranger to pain. Over her career she has endured a torn Achilles tendon, a pulled hamstring and bursitis. Like most dancers, she pirouettes through the pain.
two feet pointed in a ballerina pirouette, the left is in a slipper the right has several bandaids

“I wake up every morning and wonder if the pain is going to affect my performance, or worse, is it going to affect the length of my career,” she said. “But pain is just part of the world I live in, and each injury becomes part of my journey.”

Click here to read more

On September 30, 2016, the UNT Health Science Center hosted a symposium with various guests and presentation topics. Videos from this symposium are now available for streaming.

Click here to view videos

• Learn about health problems associated with learning and performing music
• Improve your understanding of the need for health education in music education
• Gain practical insights on meeting TEKS requirements during the 2016-2017 school year

For more information go to:





Dr. Sajid Surve was recently featured in two articles regarding his work with musicians:

How I Practice: Texas DO gets in tune with musicians
June 3, 2016
Kate Samano |

Medicine for musicians
May 26, 2016
Jan Jarvis |



Fort Worth, Texas (UNT) - The American Osteopathic Association held its annual Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition (better known as OMED2015) from October 17-21, 2015.  Texas Center for Performing Arts Health (TCPAH) Co-Director Sajid Surve, DO was the Program Chair for the American Academy of Osteopathy program at OMED, creating an exciting three-day curriculum entitled, “Osteopathic Contributions to Performing Arts Medicine.”  Experts from around the country were gathered to share their expertise in the form of lectures and workshops, including TCPAH Co-Director Dr. Kris Chesky and TCPAH professor Dr. Stephen Austin.

After a presentation on the injuries of instrumentalists, Drs. Austin and Surve teamed up to present both musician and physician perspectives on vocal health.  Beginning with an overview of the biomechanics of vocal production and laryngeal anatomy, Dr. Austin illustrated the issues frequently experienced by singers.  He highlighted both organic and functional disorders, providing visual and auditory examples for the session attendees.  Following up on Dr. Austin’s exploration of the singer’s need for treatment, Dr. Surve then provided a lecture and hands-on demonstration of osteopathic manipulative treatment specifically suited for vocalists. Attendees were then able to “try-out” the new techniques on each other, with guidance from Dr. Surve for proper placement, pressure, etc.  Many attendees commented on how they had never before considered the muscles involved in singing, and how enlightening the combined presentations were in regards to treating this population of the workforce.

The next day, Dr. Kris Chesky presented a research update in performing arts medicine, providing attendees the historical background on performing arts research, and also making the case for all the work that is yet to be done.  Dr. Chesky took the opportunity to highlight his research data on the tendentious topic of musician health earplugs and, more broadly, musician hearing health overall.  The issue of how to protect musician’s hearing is so timely, given Dr. Chesky’s and Dr. Amlani’s recent research and the ongoing efforts to educate teachers, students, and professional performing artists about the dangers associated with the profession.  Attendee feedback listed this presentation as one of the most beneficial sessions of the program.

On the final day Dr. Surve assisted his mentor, Dr. Rebecca Fishman in New York, to present a lecture and workshop on the osteopathic medical care of dancers.  Attendees learned about the different styles of dance, the injuries and risks that are associated with them, and the best management for those injuries.  A workshop on osteopathic manipulative treatment for dancer injures again allowed participants to hone their skills for this specific population.

The Texas Center for Performing Arts Health is committed to collaborating with professionals to study, treat, and prevent the various occupational health problems associated with learning and performing music and other performing arts.  Through OMED, the TCPAH was able to showcase our national leadership and expertise in these areas to the medical community, and provide them with the information they need to better serve the performing arts population in their practices.

UNT professor Kris Chesky, student Melissa Hatheway and Performing Arts MedicineDENTON, Texas (UNT) – When University of North Texas senior Melissa Hatheway experienced pain while playing clarinet following a performance-related injury, the then-freshman was encouraged by her parents and College of Music professor Kris Chesky to research health issues of band musicians.

Following nearly four years of research, Hatheway was presented the Alice G. Brandfonbrener Young Investigator Award at the July 20-23 Performing Arts Medicine Association annual symposium. The Cedar Park student is only the second undergraduate to win the award – and the first from the United States. This is also the first time that a non-medical student has won the Young Investigator Award.

The symposium, which draws arts medicine professionals from across the world, addressed medical problems of performing artists this year. Hatheway received funding from the Honors College, of which she is a member, to attend the event with five other College of Music students and alumni, and Chesky. The five other students and alumni who made presentations were:

  • Amy Laursen, of Powell, Wyo. – presented a poster and lecture on “Addressing the National Association of Schools of Music Health and Safety Standard through Curricular Changes in a Brass Methods Course.”
  • Jason Powell, of Lufkin, Texas – presented a lecture on “Reducing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Risk in Collegiate Ensemble Based Instructional Activities through a Human-Computer Interactive System.”
  • Kristen Thompson, of Boston, Mass. – presented a poster on “The Inner Instrument: What is the Role of the Vocal Mechanism in Playing a Wind Instrument?”
  • Eric Wallace, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Derek Klinge, of Colorado Springs, Colo. – presented a workshop and poster on “Pain and Music Related Musculoskeletal Problems: Results from the UNT Trombone Health Survey”

“Our students garnered respect with the research they presented at the conference,” said Chesky. “Melissa presented a superb keynote session prior to her award presentation for her comprehensive research on marching band injuries – the first of its kind.”

For Hatheway, the path to her research started when she felt pain in her hand. Though it was difficult, Hatheway played through the pain. The pain continued to spread, climbing up to her elbows.

“My hands felt useless. I turned 18 and I felt like my body was falling apart,” Hatheway said.

Yet, she was still able to audition and gain entry into UNT’s prestigious College of Music. It was here that she started to think about how other musicians often play through pain. There seemed to be a lack of preventative injury knowledge for those who played in marching band throughout high school and experienced health issues as they transitioned to college, Hatheway thought.

Her own process of obtaining a proper diagnosis and finding the right therapy took nearly four years – but she is now playing the clarinet again.

To help figure out what was going on with other band members, she developed a 70-question epidemiological study for members of the University of North Texas Green Brigade Marching Band. The questionnaire asked the performers about their perceived impact of marching band, musculoskeletal health, hearing health, stress and pain experienced. She divided their responses between music majors and non-music majors since music students put in more hours of daily practice. She then further segmented the responses by specific instruments, including the color guard, percussion, woodwinds and brass. Those answering the questionnaire were also given a drawing of the body to map out where they felt pain and how intense it was.

Hatheway hypothesized, based on her knowledge of marching band techniques, that music majors participating in marching band would experience more pain and injuries than their non-music major peers. The results of the study backed up this theory, showing that music-major participants experienced more musculoskeletal pain during and after marching band rehearsal, while non-music majors reported the exact opposite.

Although Hatheway, who is entering her senior year, plans to work as a teacher after graduation, she hopes to continue her research at UNT and earn her master’s and doctoral degrees – and eventually change the way band is taught in order to prevent health issues.

“I’ve come up with a list of what I would recommend to prevent injury, but, as a researcher, I can’t say, ‘You should do this to avoid injuries,’ because the research isn’t complete yet,” Hatheway said. “That’s really what I’m interested in – the pedagogical techniques that a teacher can use to lower the risk of injury.”

The research of Hatheway and the other students is as important as it is timely, noted Chesky. The National Association of Schools of Music has established national standards to address health risks for musicians. By identifying and working on the injury risks to musicians, these students are helping UNT stay at the forefront of research and solutions, Chesky said.

“Our time at this conference helped me see and better understand the relevance of our research,” Chesky said. “Three medical research scientists from Taiwan told me that a paper we published a few years ago prompted and guided a recent national musician health campaign across their country. I heard similar stories from Australia and South African researchers. Our impact is clearly global.”