The health sufferings of the musicians

30 percent of musicians leave their jobs prematurely due to health problems

The musician's profession is a tough job. While regular health checks are part of everyday life for competitive athletes, there are hardly any offers for preventive health care for professional musicians. Experts are now raising the alarm because 30 percent of musicians have to quit their jobs prematurely for health reasons.

The job of a musician is a tough job Headaches, hearing loss, back and cervical vertebral pain and psychological overload are just some of the complaints that many musicians suffer from. According to experts, there is an urgent need for action, because more than a quarter of the musicians leave their profession prematurely for health reasons. "Professional musicians have a bone and muscle job, comparable to that of a competitive athlete," Egbert Seidel, music doctor from Weimar, told the news agency "dpa".

"Where professional footballers or competitive athletes end their careers in their mid-30s, a musician has more than 30 years ahead of them," emphasizes Gerald Mertens, Managing Director of the German Orchestra Association (DOV). For example, many violinists suffer from shoulder problems, drummers become deaf over time, and flautists complain of elbow pain. Although almost every professional musician knows such complaints, there are hardly any offers for health checks that are specially tailored to the needs of musicians. Willibert Steffens, health expert at DOV, also criticized the meager offer and emphasized to the "dpa": "There are too few preventive offers." The preventive measures would also often have to be paid for by the musicians themselves, adds Seidel Complain about complaints. "Making music in an orchestra demands maximum physical and mental performance from every member of the orchestra, particularly with regard to musical and technical precision and precise interaction," explains Mertens.

Musicians suffer most from orthopedic problems A survey by the DOV, in which 2,500 professional musicians participated this year, showed that orthopedic problems such as shoulder and back problems are the most common among instrumentalists. Damage to hearing was also frequently cited by the respondents. Not least because of these health problems, many musicians have to leave their jobs prematurely. "30 percent of the musicians do not reach the normal retirement age due to health problems," explains Steffens. There is a great need for action. "Orchestras finally need their own medical care - the large philharmonic orchestras as well as the small ones."

This is also the opinion of Mertens: “Both the musicians and the orchestra as an institution have to look for ways and framework conditions to maintain and promote performance on the instrument for as long as possible. This includes the urgently required implementation of the EU directive on hearing protection in orchestras / trenches, which is still poorly implemented at many orchestral locations, but also the professional optimization of one's own body awareness and one's own health prophylaxis already during training at the music academies another job for the whole person with his physical and mental performance. “If one thing is missing, the other is also impaired, and with it the entire profession. Good health is a prerequisite for the quality of an orchestra, ”explains Mertens.

Deficits in health prevention for musicians According to the DOV investigation, every second German orchestra musician claims to suffer from health problems. "However, they often only take care of it when there is no other way - and then they are usually already 40 or 50 years old," reports Seidel. The doctor also believes that the music academies have a responsibility, since they rarely offer health services the young music enthusiasts would offer, and there are only a few positions for music medicine that are being partially deleted.

But there are also counterexamples: In a model project, which is financed by a statutory health insurance company, the Saxon State Youth Orchestra is given medical care by the Center for Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine at the Weimar Clinic. 90 young musicians receive medical care and advice during a rehearsal week in Weimar. Seidel, director of the Center for Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine, and his colleagues mainly correct the posture of the young musicians in various workshops. "The shoulder rest for the violin has to be higher, otherwise there will be tension," he explains to some strings. Even with many young participants, an unfavorable posture has already solidified while making music. That is why he advises a violinist to do relaxation exercises, but also to do therapy "Otherwise there is a risk of chronic headaches." In another workshop, a trombone player receives instructions for gymnastic exercises from two physiotherapists to train the muscles. (ag)

Image: Dieter Schütz /

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