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Musical Impact: Enhancing the Health and Well-being of Musicians is a four-year multi-institutional research project (2013-17) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This project is led by Conservatoires UK (CUK) which represents nine major UK conservatoires and involves scientists from Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University. Crucially, these centres of learning will work with professional musicians and their employers via the Musicians’ Union (MU) and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), as well as health practitioners and researchers linked to the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and the International Health Humanities Network (IHHN).

The aim of the Musical Impact project was to generate new knowledge of the physical and mental demands of music making, contribute new insights into chronic and acute health problems in musicians and monitor their impact over time, and examine effective strategies for health promotion. While musicians typically have a long history of self-sufficiency in managing the challenges of performing, this project aspires to complement musicians’ own ingenuity by providing comprehensive, evidence-led resources to help maximise their educational and professional opportunities.

Core strands of the research:

1. Fit to Perform: A longitudinal study of musicians’ physical and mental fitness for performance

Investigates the incidence and extent of injuries and ill-health among musicians working in Britain, as well as the physical, psychological, environmental and musical factors that determine musicians’ health and wellbeing.

2. Making Music: The physical and mental demands of practising and performing

Studies the physical and mental demands of music making and training using cutting edge physiological monitoring equipment.

3. Better Practice: Health promotion in music education and the profession

Examines current approaches to promoting health, adapting, applying and evaluating them across music educational and professional contexts.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance was responsible for the second of these three research strands, namely the investigation of the physical and mental demands of practising and performing. Professor Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science, led a diverse team of researchers with expertise in the fields of clinical medicine, neuroscience, anatomy, psychology, dance science, physiotherapy, musical performance and music pedagogy. This interdisciplinary approach was crucial for the understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying the medical problems faced by musicians, enabling the cross-fertilisation of ideas required to devise innovative research designed to enhance the health and well-being of the practising and performing musician.


Project team:

Principal investigators

  • Aaron Williamon, RCM
  • Emma Redding, Trinity Laban
  • Jane Ginsborg, RNCM

Project team

  • Liliana Araújo, RCM
  • Louise Atkins, RCM
  • Stephen Broad, RCS
  • Terry Clark, RCM
  • Raluca Matei, RNCM
  • Rosie Perkins, RCM
  • Helen Reid, Guildhall
  • Christina Siomos, Trinity Laban
  • David Wasley, Cardiff Met
  • Alan Watson, Cardiff University
  • Howard Bird, Evaluator

One of the outcomes of Musical Impact was the formation of Healthy Conservatoires, which is a network for members to share news and updates on the health needs of performing artists; access peer support, resources and expertise in creating and maintaining a healthy conservatoire; and engage with the latest research and evidence-informed practice.

Additional information about the Musical Impact project can be found on its official website.

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Musical Impact

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