Many musicians suffer from overuse injuries at some point in their careers. Sometimes these injuries are career-ending, and sometimes the player is able to recover and continue playing.
It seems that there are quite a few resources for overuse injuries of the shoulders, arms, and hands. Since many office workers suffer from similar injuries, this makes sense. This is why you’ll often see pianists and string players doing regular stretches and exercises, to keep these tendons and muscles functioning properly.
Unfortunately, there are fewer resources available for preventing (or healing) overuse injuries of the face. But a new website created by the Assistant Professor of Horn at Western Illinois University aims to change that. The aptly-named BrassInjury.com site is squarely aimed at brass players who want to take a more proactive approach to injury prevention or recovery.
Dr. Jena Gardner, the creator of the site, has a personal connection with overuse injuries. From the About page:
Dr. Gardner has had a personal journey with brass injury and recovery. She received certification in the Essentials of Performing Arts Medicine from the Performing Arts Medicine Association.[She] is an advocate for a brass pedagogy that incorporates injury knowledge and prevention. Her doctoral dissertation, “Applied Lesson Pedagogy: An Embodied Approach to Music Performance Learning and its Application to Teaching the Horn” is available through the Northwestern University Arch Catalogue.
The mission of BrassInjury.com is to:
[P]rovide resources to brass players looking for information on overuse injury recovery, prevention, pedagogy, and general brass performance wellness.
A holistic approach to long, healthy careers by integrating practices like the Alexander technique, mindfulness, exercise/movement, healthy eating, and sleep habits into our musician’s toolbox is encouraged.
A brief aside: Dr. Gardner’s dissertation is interesting if you’re at all interested in teaching or music pedagogy. It discusses how teachers pass along the physical (embodied) knowledge of playing an instrument by using three broad types of teaching (performative, gestural, and verbal). As you can imagine, teaching this kind of knowledge is quite different than teaching theoretical information (fingerings, performance practice, etc.).
The site itself is relatively new but already has quite a few very useful resources. There are books, Youtube videos, useful products, and even additional web resources.
Check it out if you (or a colleague or student) is dealing with an overuse injury: https://brassinjury.com/