HEALTH AND SAFETY INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
The School of Music, as required by the National Association of
Schools of Music, is obligated to inform students and faculty of
health and safety issues, hazards, and procedures inherent in
practice, performance, teaching, and listening both in general and
as applicable to their specific specializations. This includes but
is not limited to information regarding hearing, vocal and
musculoskeletal health, injury prevention, and the use, proper
handling, and operation of potentially dangerous materials,
equipment, and technology.
The School of Music has developed policies, protocols, and
operational procedures to guard against injury and illness in the
study and practice of music, as well as to raise the awareness
among our students and faculty of the connections between
musicians' health, the suitability and safety of equipment and
technology, and the acoustic and other health-related conditions in
the University's practice, rehearsal, and performance
It is important to note that health and safety depends largely
on personal decisions made by informed individuals. Butler
University has health and safety responsibilities, but fulfillment
of these responsibilities cannot and will not ensure any
individual's health and safety. Too many factors beyond the
university's control are involved.
Each individual is personally responsible for avoiding risk and
preventing injuries to themselves before, during, and after study
or employment in the Butler University School of Music. The
policies, protocols, and operational procedures developed by the
School of Music do not alter or cancel any individual's personal
responsibility, or in any way shift personal responsibility for the
results of any individual's personal decisions or actions in any
instance or over time to the University.
Anyone who practices, rehearses or performs instrumental or
vocal music has the potential to suffer injury related to that
activity. Instrumental musicians are at risk for repetitive motion
injuries. Sizable percentages of them develop physical problems
related to playing their instruments; and if they are also computer
users, their risks are compounded. Instrumental injuries often
include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis. Incorrect
posture, non-ergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress,
and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause
great pain, disability, and the end of careers.
What Instrumentalists Should Do
The School of Music wishes to thank the Associated Board of the
Royal Schools of Music and the Canadian Network for Health in the
Arts for the following information:
1. Evaluate your technique. Reduce force, keep
joints in the middle of their range of motion, use large muscle
groups when possible, and avoid fixed, tense positions.
2. Always warm up. As an athlete would not begin
a vigorous physical activity without warming up, a musician must
warm up carefully before practice or performance.
3. Take breaks to stretch and relax. Take short
breaks every few minutes and longer breaks each hour. Two or more
shorter rehearsals each day are more productive than marathon
single sessions. Even in performance, find those opportunities to
relax a hand, arm, or embouchure to restore circulation.
4. Pace yourself. No pain, no gain is a
potentially catastrophic philosophy for a musician. Know when
enough is enough, and learn to say 'no' to certain performances or
lengths of performing that might result in injury.
5. Check out your instrument. Does your
instrument place undue stress on your body? Is your instrument set
up optimally for you to relieve pressure on hands, joints, etc.? Is
there a strap, carrier, or stand available to relieve the
6. Evaluate other activities. Pains and injuries
affecting your music making could be caused by other activities in
your daily life. Computer use is notorious for causing afflictions
including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
7. Pay attention to your body. Pain is the
mechanism by which your body tells you that something is wrong.
Listen to your body; if it hurts, stop what you are doing.
8. Get medical attention. Do not delay in seeing
a doctor. A physician may prescribe a minor adjustment or, in
worst-case scenarios, stipulate not performing for a period of
time. As drastic as this may sound, a few months of rest is better
than suffering a permanent, career ending injury. Likewise, the
demands placed on singers' voices are immense. Hardly a month goes
by where a top singer is not forced to interrupt a tour, take a
break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their
voice. Medical professionals are making the case that the demands
put on one's voice when singing one to three hours is as intense as
those made on an Olympic marathon runner's body. Additional factors
such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and
proper voice training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a
singer's ability to perform at her/his best.
What Singers Should Do
The School of Music wishes to thank The Singer's Resource, the
Texas Voice Center, Houston, and the University of Michigan Vocal
Health Center for the following information:
1. Maintain good general health. Get adequate
rest to minimize fatigue. If you do become ill, avoid "talking over
your laryngitis" - see your physician and rest your voice.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Eat a balanced diet. Including vegetables,
fruit and whole grains, and avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea,
and soft drinks) and alcohol. Avoid spicy, acidic, and dairy foods
if you are sensitive to them.
4. Maintain body hydration; drink two quarts of
5. Avoid dry, artificial interior climates. Las
Vegas has an average daily humidity of 36%, a relatively low amount
of moisture. Using a humidifier at night might compensate for the
6. Limit the use of your voice. High-ceilinged
restaurants, noisy parties, cars and planes are especially damaging
to the voice. If necessary, use amplification for vocal
7. Avoid throat clearing and voiced
8. Stop yelling, and avoid hard vocal attacks on initial
9. Adjust the speaking pitch level of your voice.
Use the pitch level in the same range where you say,
10. Speak in phrases rather than in paragraphs.
Breath slightly before each phrase.
11. Reduce demands on your voice - don't do all
12. Learn to breathe silently to activate your breath
support muscles and reduce neck tension.
13. Take full advantage of the two free elements of vocal
fold healing: water and air.
14. Vocal athletes must treat their musculoskeletal system
as do other types of athletes; therefore, vocal warm-ups
should always be used prior to singing. Vocal cool-downs are also
essential to keep the singing voice healthy.
What All Butler Musicians Should Do
1. Stay informed. Awareness is the key. Like
many health-related issues, prevention is much easier and less
expensive than cures. Take time to read available information
concerning injuries associated with your art.
2. Musicians might find the following books helpful:
Conable, Barbara. What Every Musicians Needs to Know About the
Body (GIA Publications, 2000)
Klickstein, Gerald. The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice,
Performance, and Wellness (Oxford, 2009)
Norris, Richard N. The Musician's Survival Manual
(International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, 1993)
The following links may be useful:
of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), the world's leading
authority on musical assessment, actively supporting and
encouraging music learning for all.
Medicine Association (PAMA), an organization comprised of
dedicated medical professionals, artists educators, and
administrators with the common goal of improving the health care of
the performing artist.
Voice Center, founded in 1989 for the diagnosis, treatment, and
prevention of voice disorders.
National Center for
Voice and Speech (NCVS), conducts research, educates
vocologists, and disseminates information about voice and
Center, University of Michigan Health System, recognized
locally, regionally and nationally as a leading institution for the
treatment and prevention of voice disorders. At the heart of the
Center is a professional team comprised of experts from the
University of Michigan Health System and U-M School of Music,
encompassing the fields of Laryngology, Speech Pathology, and Vocal
The School of Music maintains a collection of musical
instruments for checkout and use by members of the music faculty
and students enrolled in our courses and performing ensembles. As
with other items we use in the course of our daily lives, musical
instruments must be cared for properly and cleaned regularly. Each
instrument in the School's collection receives a thorough
inspection at the conclusion of the academic year. Every year,
thousands of dollars are spent to clean, adjust, and return
instruments to full playing condition.
More and more our society is pushing for products that are
anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Some even go the next
step further aiming to achieve sterile. However, our bodies by
design are not meant to live in a sterile environment. As kids we
played in the dirt, ate bugs and countless other things and became
stronger because of it. Keep in mind that total sterility is a
fleeting moment. Once a sterile instrument has been handled or
exposed to room air it is no longer considered to be sterile. It
will however remain antiseptically clean until used.
Most viruses cannot live on hard surfaces for a prolonged period
of time. Some die simply with exposure to air. However, certain
groups are quite hardy. Therefore, musicians must be concerned with
instrument hygiene. Users of school owned and rented musical
equipment might be more susceptible to infections from instruments
that are not cleaned and maintained properly.
If the cleaning process is thorough, however, musical
instruments will be antiseptically clean. Just as with the utensils
you eat with, soap and water can clean off anything harmful.
Antibacterial soaps will kill certain germs but all soaps will
carry away the germs that stick to dirt and oils while they clean.
No germs/ no threat.
Infectious Disease Risks
Sharing musical instruments is a widespread, accepted practice
in the profession. However, recent discussion in the profession has
included concern regarding shared musical instruments and
infectious disease, especially HIV.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has confirmed that there
is no risk of transmission of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), or
Hepatitis B (HBV) through shared musical instruments. The reasons
for this are that these diseases are passed via a blood-to-blood,
sexual fluid or mucous membrane contact. There has been no case of
saliva transmission of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), or
Hepatitis B (HBV).
While the possibility of transmission of the above bacteria and
viruses is not a real consideration, it is apparent that there
should be a protocol with regard to shared musical instruments.
Sharing of instruments is routine in music schools, where students
practice and perform on borrowed instruments throughout the year.
In our discussion with our consultants, certain basic
considerations and recommendations for standard operating
procedures regarding shared instruments were recommended as
1. All musicians or students should have their own instrument if
2. All musicians or students should have their own mouthpiece if
3. All students and faculty sharing reed instruments
MUST have their own individual reeds. Reeds should
NEVER be shared.
4. If instruments must be shared in class, alcohol wipes or
Sterisol germicide solution (both available from the Department of
Music) should be available for use between different people. When
renting or using a Department-owned musical instrument, each user
must understand that regular cleaning of these musical instruments
is required in order to practice proper hygiene. The student must
initial and date the following statement upon checkout of the
institutionally owned wind instrument.
The mouthpiece (flute headjoint), English Horn and bassoon
bocal, and saxophone neck crook) are essential parts of wind
instruments. As the only parts of these instruments placed either
in or close to the musician's mouth, research has concluded that
these parts (and reeds) harbor the greatest quantities of
Adhering to the following procedures will ensure that these
instrumental parts will remain antiseptically clean for the healthy
and safe use of our students and faculty.
Cleaning the Flute Head Joint
1. Using a cotton swab saturated with denatured, isopropyl
alcohol, carefully clean around the embouchure hole.
2. Alcohol wipes can be used on the flute's lip plate to kill
germs if the flute shared by several players.
3. Using a soft, lint-free silk cloth inserted into the cleaning
rod, clean the inside of the headjoint.
4. Do not run the headjoint under water as it may saturate and
eventually shrink the headjoint cork.
1. Bocals should be cleaned every month with a bocal brush, mild
soap solution, and running water. 2. English Horn bocals can be
cleaned with a pipe cleaner, mild soap solution, and running water.
Be careful not to scratch the inside of the bocal with the exposed
wire ends of the pipe cleaner. Cleaning Hard Rubber (Ebony)
Mouthpieces 1. Mouthpieces should be swabbed after each playing and
2. Select a small (to use less liquid) container that will
accommodate the mouthpiece and place the mouthpiece tip down in the
3. Fill the container to where the ligature would begin with a
solution of half water and half white vinegar (50% water and 50%
hydrogen peroxide works too). Protect clarinet mouthpiece corked
tenons from moisture.
4. After a short time, use an appropriately sized mouthpiece brush
to remove any calcium deposits or other residue from inside and
outside surfaces. This step may need to be repeated if the
mouthpiece is excessively dirty.
5. Rinse the mouthpiece thoroughly and then saturate with Sterisol
germicide solution. Place on paper towel and wait one minute.
6. Wipe dry with paper towel.
7. Note: Metal saxophone mouthpieces clean up well with hot water,
mild dish soap (not dishwasher detergent), and a mouthpiece brush.
Sterisol germicide solution is also safe for metal mouthpieces.
Cleaning Saxophone Necks (Crooks)
1. Swabs and pad-savers are available to clean the inside of the
saxophone neck. However, most saxophonists use a flexible
bottlebrush and toothbrush to accomplish the same results.
2. If the instrument is played daily, the saxophone neck should be
cleaned weekly (and swabbed out each day after playing).
3. Use the bottlebrush and mild, soapy water to clean the inside
of the neck.
4. Rinse under running water.
5. Sterisol germicide solution may be used on the inside of the
neck at this time, if desired (not necessary). Place on paper towel
for one minute.
6. Rinse again under running water, dry, and place in the
7. If using pad-savers, do not leave the pad-saver inside the neck
when packed away.
Cleaning Brass Mouthpieces
1. Mouthpieces should be cleaned monthly.
2. Using a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water, clean the outside of
3. Use a mouthpiece brush and warm, soapy water to clean the
4. Rinse the mouthpiece and dry thoroughly.
5. Sterisol germicide solution may be used on the mouthpiece at
this time. Place on paper towel for one minute.
6. Wipe dry with paper towel.
1. String, percussion, and keyboard instruments present few
hygienic issues that cannot be solved simply by the musician
washing their hands before and after use.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Note - The information in this document is
generic and advisory in nature. It is not a substitute for
professional, medical judgments. It should not be used as a basis
for medical treatment. If you are concerned about your hearing or
think you may have suffered hearing loss, consult a licensed
Part of the role of any professional is to remain in the best
condition to practice the profession. As an aspiring musician, this
involves safeguarding your hearing health. Whatever your plans
after graduation - whether they involve playing, teaching,
engineering, or simply enjoying music - you owe it to yourself and
your fellow musicians to do all you can to protect your hearing. If
you are 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.
Music & Noise In the scientific world, all
types of sound, including music, are regularly categorized as
noise. A sound that it too loud, or too loud for too long, is
dangerous to hearing health, no matter what kind of sound it is or
whether we call it noise, music, or something else. Music itself is
not the issue. Loudness and its duration are the issues. Music
plays an important part in hearing health, but hearing health is
far larger than music.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
We experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from
television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally,
we hear these sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing.
However, when we are exposed to harmful noise-sounds that are too
loud or loud sounds that last a long time-sensitive structures in
our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss
(NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small
sensory cells that convert sound energy into electrical signals
that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow
back. NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense
"impulse" sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to
loud sounds over an extended period of time. The humming of a
refrigerator is 45 decibels, normal conversation is approximately
60 decibels, and the noise from heavy city traffic can reach 85
decibels. Sources of noise that can cause NIHL include motorcycles,
firecrackers, and small firearms, all emitting sounds from 120 to
150 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85
decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter
the time period before NIHL can occur. Sounds of less than 75
decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing
loss. Although being aware of decibel levels is an important factor
in protecting one's hearing, distance from the source of the sound
and duration of exposure to the sound are equally important. A good
rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are "too loud" and "too
close" or that last "too long."
It is very important to understand that the hair cells in
your inner ear cannot regenerate. Damage done to them is permanent.
There is no way to repair or undo this damage.
According to the American Academy of Audiology, approximately 26
million Americans have hearing loss. One in three developed their
hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise. As you pursue your
day-to-day activities, both in the Department of Music and in other
educational, vocational, and recreational environments,
1. Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a
2. Your hearing can be permanently damaged by loud sounds,
including music. Technically, this is called Noise-Induced Hearing
Loss (NIHL). This danger is constant.
3. Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable. You must
avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of
4. The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater
the risk of damage.
5. Sounds over 85 dB (your typical vacuum cleaner) in intensity
pose the greatest risk to your hearing.
6. Recommended maximum daily exposure times to sounds at or above
85 dB are as follows: 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3
volume) - 8 hours 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) - 2 hours 94 dB (MP3
player at 1/2 volume) - 1 hour 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume,
lawnmower) - 15 minutes 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) - 2
minutes 120 dB (jet planes at take-off) - without ear protection,
sound damage is almost immediate
7. Certain behaviors (controlling volume levels in practice and
rehearsal, planning rehearsal order to provide relief from high
volume works, avoiding noisy environments) reduce your risk of
8. The use of earplugs (Sensaphonics, ProGuard, Sensorcom) helps
to protect your hearing health.
9. Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now
and in the future. Since sound exposure occurs in and out of the
Department of Music, you also need to learn more and take care of
your own hearing health on a daily, even hourly basis.
10. If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, talk
with a medical professional.
11. If you are concerned about your hearing health in relationship
to your study of music at UNLV, consult with your applied
instructor, ensemble conductor, advisor, or Department Chair.
Resources - Information and Research Hearing Health
National Association of School of Music (NASM)
Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA)
PAMA Bibliography (search tool)
General Information on Acoustics
Acoustical Society of America
Acoustics for Performance, Rehearsal, and Practice Facilities
Available through the NASM Web site
Health and Safety Standards Organizations American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) (http://www.ansi.org/)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Medical Organizations Focused on Hearing Health American Academy
of Audiology (http://www.audiology.org/Pages/default.aspx)
American Academy of Otolaryngology â€" Head and Neck Surgery
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Athletes and the Arts (http://athletesandthearts.com/)
House Research Institute â€" Hearing Health
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
â€" Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Other Organizations Focused on Hearing Health Dangerous Decibels
National Hearing Conservation Association
Information on Butler University Health
The following is a link to information regarding health services
at Butler University http://www.butler.edu/health-services/
Information regarding Safety on the Butler University
The following two links are to information regarding safety on
the Butler University campus.