Comprehensive Health Care Services
The UW Health Performing Arts Medicine program is dedicated to the care of performing artists in a timely and customized manner, providing access to the full range of specialties available at UW Hospital and Clinics.
UW Health treatment team is committed to preventing re-injury and will provide performing artists with education on body mechanics and posture. In treating current problems, we provide patients with strategies to prevent re-injury and chronic performance limitation.
If you’re serious about pursuing a career in music, you need to protect your hearing. The way you hear music, the way you recognize and differentiate pitch, the way you play music; all are directly connected to your hearing.
Evaluating Your Risk for Hearing Loss
When evaluating your risk for hearing loss, ask yourself the following questions:
- How frequently am I exposed to noises and sounds above 85 decibels?
- What can I do to limit my exposure to such loud noises and sounds?
- What personal behaviors and practices increase my risk of hearing loss?
- How can I be proactive in protecting my hearing and the hearing of those around me?
To learn about how to protect your hearing and evaluate your risks for hearing damage, download the Mead Witter School of Music’s Protect Your Hearing Everyday handout!
Audiology exams and evaluations
The UWSHC offers a custom evaluation and hearing loss prevention package for musicians. The musician’s hearing evaluation includes evaluation of hearing at inter-octave frequencies, otoacoustic emission testing, and assessment of change in hearing if previous tests are available. The hearing conservation package includes an individualized consultation about hearing conservation in a music environment as well as the selection and fitting of custom musician’s (“concert”) earplugs. This program is offered at a discounted price to students in the UW-Madison School of Music. The UWSHC also provides the hearing evaluations for all University of Wisconsin–Madison employees enrolled in the university’s hearing conservation program.
Audiologists with UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, collaborate with ear, nose and throat physicians (otolaryngologists) to evaluate and treat adults and children with hearing impairment and balance disorders.
Hearing protection options
Musicians practice and perform in a variety of different settings. They are exposed to high levels of sound, sometimes for long periods and may require different amounts of protection depending on sound levels encountered during rehearsals and performance. Some musicians use one type of attenuator in one ear and one type in the other, depending on the source and location of the sound.
Etymotic Research, Inc. is one company that designs hearing protection specifically for musicians. A recommendation chart for their ear plugs is shown below. More information can be found at etymotic.com.
Integrative Health’s complementary services include acupuncture, naturopathic consults, Healing Touch, massage therapy and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and bodywork and the Feldenkrais® method.
Acupuncture may be effective for many acute and chronic illnesses and stimulates the natural healing process of the body to restore health and healing.
Through this practice you may increase your ease and range of motion and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement.
Healing Touch is a non-invasive therapy that may provide the recipient with mental calmness and an improved sense of well-being.
Healing Touch, massage therapy and acupuncture may assist patients in dealing with many issues commonly experienced during a hospital stay, including pain, anxiety, nausea and sleep disturbances.
Integrative Health Physician Consultations
Consultations are provided by physicians who have completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Health and/or have completed requirements for board certification by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. They are trained to integrate both traditional and complementary therapies towards the facilitation of health and healing. Insight developed in the consultation also might be used to direct patients to the most relevant UW Health professionals.
Massage Therapy and Bodywork
Massage therapy and bodywork may offer benefits including stress reduction, relief of muscle tension and chronic pain and increased circulation.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is designed to introduce Mindfulness meditation practice as a way of reducing stress and developing greater balance, control and fuller participation in your life.
Mental & neurological health
Student support at UW-Madison reaches beyond finances. Our faculty and staff at the School of Music care deeply about their students. We understand that sometimes life gets tough, and students need someone to talk to. While we treat our students like family, we strongly encourage them to seek professional help through Counseling and Consultation Services. This on-campus resource is available for students, parents, faculty, and staff. C&CS offers face-to-face appointments, group counseling, as well as a 24-Hour Mental Health Crisis Services Hotline. No problem is too small, and mental health is vital for all of our students.
Treatment programs are available to deal with a variety of issues, including work and personal stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol dependency and ongoing supportive services. Sport psychologists provide guidance in mind-body skills for peak performance. UW Health Sports Medicine offers sport psychology services for athletes who want to best use their mental and emotional skills to achieve peak athletic performance.
Health Psychology services aim to promote health and prevent disease through appropriately specialized psychological health care. This specialized care of patients acknowledges the critical links between mind, body and spirit in achieving the highest quality of life.
Neurological Conditions & Movement Disorders
Neurological conditions and movement disorders can affect the speed, smoothness, quality, and ease of an individual’s movement. These conditions can affect the voice, hands, head, neck or any other part of the body. There are two categories of movement disorders:
- Hypokinesia: exhibited through slow or absent voluntary movement
- Hyperkinesia: exhibited through excessive or involuntary movement
To learn more about these disorders and the conditions that cause them, please visit UW Health’s Movement Disorders Page. UW Health’s Movement Disorders Program, based at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, provides a breadth of expertise and a range of services unmatched in the region.
Movement Disorders Clinic
Performers are at a higher risk for various musculoskeletal conditions that can affect bones, joints and soft tissues. Musicians are especially prone to such problems due to repetitive movement and to extreme bodily stress and strain.
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the workplace conditions and job demands to the worker. This information is intended to provide musicians and supervisors with a minimum basic understanding of ergonomics and instrumental injuries.
Instrumental injuries often include the same conditions experienced from computer overuse. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Bursitis, Tenosynovitis / DeQuervain’s Syndrome, Tendinosis, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, and Trigger Finger/Thumb are particularly common among keyboardists, fretboardists, flute, and string players.
Incorrect posture, non-ergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress, and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause great pain, possible injury or disability, and the end of careers.’
Conditions affecting the ears, nose, throat, and respiratory system can greatly impact all musicians. All performers should take care of their bodies and be aware of conditions that can permanently affect their ability to perform.
Allergy and pulmonary conditions
Shortness of breath, asthma and chronic cough are the main areas of concerns for performing artists. These conditions can affect actors, singers and dancers. Sculptors and painters might be at risk of being exposed to different types of chemicals and toxins.
More information on these conditions can be found at UW-Health’s Website.
Ear, nose, and throat disorders
A performer can be affected by a variety of ear, nose and throat disorders. These conditions might include dizziness, hearing loss, sinus disease, swallowing problems, nasal breathing problems and injury to the head and neck.
For more information, visit:
- Scratchy, weak or breathy voice
- Difficulty with loudness
- Pain or discomfort with speaking or singing
- Change in singing voice
- Increased effort to talk
- Frequent laryngitis
- Voice fatigue (worsening voice quality or discomfort with voice use)
- Changes in voice after trauma or surgery to the neck, throat or larynx
The health care providers at UW Health’s Voice and Swallowing Clinics provide a wide range of general and specialized care for the voice.