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Healthy Musicianship (lecture): Prevention, Cures & Challenges in Musician’s Medicine (by Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on August 31, 2013

August 29 and 30 2013, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam hosted the international conference Managing your Talents – Interdisciplinary Research on the Performing Arts.


The conference programme was structured around four themes:

* Talent
* Excellence
* Practicing
* (Over)load

Friday, August 30, 14.45-15.30
Thematic Session 4: (over)load

Healthy Musicianship; Prevention, Cures and Challenges in Musician’s Medicine

Eckart Altenmüller (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)

Performing music at a professional level is one of the most complex of human accomplishments. Societal pressures and the overall increasing level of expertise and performance technique require students to work hard and to develop skills which are not only related to playing, but also to emotional communication and self-management. It therefore is essential to teach future instrumental teachers and performing musicians on one side to recognize and prevent performance related injuries, on the other side to have sufficient drive and vitality to express emotions and joyfulness in making music.

In the lecture, I will present the program we have developed in Hannover. It aims at preventing injuries and provides skills which are necessary to improve self-management, emotional communication and knowledge about the meaning of music in our society.

Lecture: Healthy musicianship: prevention, cures and challenges in musician's medicine (Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller. Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)

page 19 from Lecture “Healthy musianship: prevention, cures and challenges in musician’s medicine” (Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller. Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover) – Download fully PDF from bottom.

The program includes information about the pathophysiology of injuries caused by instrumental playing and offers a prevention program including body-relaxation techniques, performance training and management of anxieties. Biological foundations of music making and music perception are taught. The main foci here are sensorimotor aspects of music playing, motor learning, musculoskeletal injuries, performance anxiety, hearing, protection of hearing, and central nervous auditory processing.

We offer small group seminars for instrumentalists in a “hands-on” format. The main aspects are movement sciences, motor learning, and efficiency in practicing.

With these courses we work on four major lines:

* Teaching the basics of music physiology and musicians’ medicine.
* Research into the physiological and neurobiological principles of professional music performance and music perception
* Research into the causes of occupational injuries in musicians.
* Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of such injuries.

Selected case studies and practical propositions are presented in the end of my lecture.


Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller

Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller

eckart altenmüller
Eckart Altenmüller is a full university professor and medical doctor, and has an active research and concert career. He graduated in Medicine and in Music at the University of Freiburg, where he obtained is concert diploma in the master classes of Aurèle Nicolèt and William Bennett. His clinical training was in the Department of Neurology in Freiburg and Tübingen as a neurologist and neurophysiologist. In 1994, he became Chair and Director of the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine at Hannover University of Music and Drama, a position he has held for the past 19 years. In this role, he has continued his research into sensory-motor learning and movement disorders in musicians. Dr. Altenmüller is Member of the prestigious Göttingen Academy of Sciences since 2005 and President of the German Society for Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicine 2005-2011, Vice-President since then.

More information about Eckart Altenmüller:
* Eckart Altenmüller’s undefinedInstitut für Musikphysiologie und Musikermedizin

(Source: 08/2013 – Conservatorium Amsterdam)

Download Prof. Altenmüller’s fully presentation (39 pages)…

Please find below the other presentations & keynote.

thematic session 1: talent
Musical Talent: Conceptualisation, Identification And Development
Susan Hallam (University of London)

This presentation begins with a consideration of how thinking about musical talent has changed over time. Evidence from research exploring recent conceptualisations of musical talent will be presented. The role of musical practice and engagement in musical activities will be discussed in relation to the development of musical expertise and will be linked to neuropsychological studies of the brain. Finally, the presentation will consider the crucial role of motivation in the nurturing and development of talent and the implications of this for its identification.

thematic session 2: excellence
Cognitive reserve, music, and sports
Erik Scherder (VU University, Amsterdam)

There is some interesting literature supporting the view that growing up in an enrichment environment contributes to a cognitive reserve. The higher the cognitive reserve, the more a person is able to withstand the consequences of aging and/or age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In an enriched environment, a person is constantly challenged, preferably both cognitively and physically, processing a variety of stimuli. Enriched environment at a young age, is particularly important for those brain areas that are still developing, e.g. the prefrontal cortex.

thematic session 3: practicing

Succesfull (self-)study: the role of cognitive and socio-emotional development
Mariëtte Huizinga (VU University, Amsterdam)

Why is it that some adolescents attend school virtually effortless, while others experience delay or even drop-out? Why is it that the one adolescent is perfectly able to balance his/her homework and social life, while others are not? Which factors are related to an adolescent’s ability to resist the attraction of the internet and social media?

thematic session4 : (over)load
Monitoring Overload in Athletes And Dancers
Jacques van Rossum (VU University, Amsterdam)

In dance, one has traditionally lived in a world coloured by pain (‘no pain, no gain’), where the seemingly unavoidable injuries are perceived by dancers to be caused by fatigue, overwork and ‘repetitive movements’. In recent years, however, scientific evidence suggests that smart practice is to be preferred over the traditionally hard and long hours of practice. This presentation describes (some of) the speaker’s experiences regarding the monitoring and prevention of overload in athletes and dancers.

keynote lecture
Tip of the Iceberg
Henkjan Honing (University of Amsterdam)

In this presentation I will argue that we all share a predisposition for music. Examples range from the ability of newborns to perceive the beat, infants impressive sensitivity to complex rhythms, to the unexpected musical expertise of ordinary listeners. The evidence will show that music is second nature to most human beings, both biologically and socially. However, if musical talent is indeed so wide spread as it seems, one could wonder whether we are the only species that are musical. Can birdsong, the song structure of humpback whales, a Thai elephant orchestra, or a gibbon duet be considered products of musical animals as well? It will lead to a discussion of whether successful musicians are (merely or consequently) the tip of the iceberg.

(Source: 08/2013 – Conservatorium Amsterdam)

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