Music is one of the Arts. Making music is manual labor, and practicing and performing invite some of the painful medical conditions that lurk at worksites like factories. A California guitar maker introduced a new model in June that lists “maximum ergonomics” along with its performance qualities. If it’s a hit with musicians and it lives up to its ergonomic promise, it could lessen the risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) inherent in making music.
In part, music making is risky because it is a repetitive activity. Strumming and plucking strings, beating drums and striking or even stroking piano keys all impact on the musculoskeletal system. Add an awkward hand or body position to playing the instrument and the risk level soars. Some instruments also require force, compounding the potential damage to the body. Then there is the slouch. The type or design of the instrument can force it on the performer. But sometimes it’s the performer’s style. Either way, it increases the risk.
Fame is no protection. Referring to an article in London’s Mirror newspaper, the April 30, 2004, issue of Ergonomics Today