The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury

by Alan H. D. Watson

Music performance requires a high degree of physical skill, yet until recently, musical training has paid little attention to the considerable demands made on the mind and body. The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury presents singers and instrumentalists with accurate information on the physical processes that underlie their craft. The book provides a concise overview of the biological principles associated with performance technique while assuming no prior scientific knowledge, making it accessible to both musicians and to health professionals who treat performance-related medical conditions.

Author Alan H. D. Watson explains the concepts and techniques of music performance, discussing themes such as posture and the back; movements of the arm and hand and associated problems; breathing in singers and wind players; the embouchure and respiratory tract in wind playing; the larynx and vocal tract in singers; the brain and its role in skill acquisition and aural processing; and stress and its management. Watson offers performers and teachers the tools they need to create a rational approach to the development and communication of technique. He also provides insight into the origins of performance-related injury, helping to reduce the risk of such problems by encouraging a technique that is sustainable in the long term. Each chapter includes several illustrations and an extensive bibliography for further reading. To support the text, a CD-Rom is included, featuring original diagrams that clearly illustrate the relevant aspects of body structure and function, explaining and illuminating key concepts through an extensive set of animations, sound files, and videos.
  • Scarecrow Press; January 2009
  • ISBN: 9780810863750
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury
  • Author: Alan H. D. Watson
  • Imprint: Scarecrow Press

In The Press

The best book in its field yet to be published …is highly recommended for those in any discipline who are committed to the performance health of musicians…. Besides being a pleasure to read, the book is a scholarly work that is amply documented with appropriate references. To supplement the written work, numerous deceptively simple figures illustrate the text and often provide additional information.… This is a unique and outstanding book that readers will find to be good reading as well as informative. Unquestionably, it belongs in the libraries of all universities where music is taught and in music conservatories. The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury should be required reading for instrumental and vocal teachers alike, whereas for those concerned with the medical well-being of musicians it is a near encyclopedic source of information applicable to patient care, both preventive and therapeutic.

About The Author

Alan H. D. Watson is Senior Lecturer in Anatomy and Neuroscience in the School of Bioscience at Cardiff University. He also teaches a course on music biology at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.