Center for Wellness and Research in the Performing Arts Established
If you're sitting in the middle of an orchestra, how loud is too loud? Can a violinist hold his instrument correctly and not incur neck and arm injuries? How can a singer ensure that she can sing multiple, consecutive performances with-out vocal strain?
A new effort at the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory will help students to answer questions that are vital to sustaining a career as a performing artist. The administration has approved the establishment of the Center for Wellness and Research in the Performing Arts. Issues of wellness in the performing arts is a growing field as leaders in the arts recognize that professional musicians, like elite athletes, need to be concerned with health, practice and performance issues.
"As we train musicians, part of what we want to train them to be is intelligent musicians who are proactive in how to recognize bad patterns they are developing," said Conservatory Director Peter Landgren who will oversee the administrative portion of the program. While teachers recognize and help students overcome bad habits, it's important for the students themselves to recognize them early and avoid them, he added.
June Hart Romeo will be the clinical director of the program. She has been conducting research on performance-related issues for six years. She has surveyed ten major U.S. orchestras and has presented her findings at conferences sponsored by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and the Performing Arts Medicine Association. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from BW and a Ph.D. in sociology from the City University of Los Angeles.
"June is a great mix of resources," Landgren said. "She's an RN who is passionate about young people and research. She also is an amateur musician who studies violin with Julian Ross."
One of the first efforts of the Center is a spring semester seminar, cross listed with HPE and music. Romeo, who has taught a similar course for health professionals said the class, "will explore medical and health issues related to musicians, singers and dancers." Noise-induced hearing loss in musicians, playing-related musculo-skeletal disorders in instrumentalists, care of the professional voice, and hip and ankle problems in dancers are among the many topics to be discussed.
As for the center, Romeo sees it as a resource for research on performing arts medicine and related topics for health professionals, faculty and students. Landgren agrees that giving students the opportunity to do research might fuel a new passion for them, in addition to performing.