Musicians’ health and physical abilities are tightly interdependent but have mainly been researched separately, and physical struggles that are not directly associated with injuries have remained largely overlooked. This conceptual gap (in between a false dichotomy of ‘healthy’/’injured’) makes it difficult to study and understand both healthy and injury-prone musicians and can obstruct pedagogical understandings of how physical skills are learned and maintained in the first place – especially in such an embodied and practical field as music. From a wider health sociological perspective, the issues of health and physical abilities are inseparable from both each other and from the constraints of growing up in modernity, and researching this inseparability could assist music education’s understanding of students’ individual and complex physical backgrounds.
To study the aforementioned concepts and challenges, this project consists of interdisciplinary theory development in parallel with a prospective cohort study consisting of questionnaires, interviews, and detailed motion capture and muscle readings in a lab-based setting. The aim is to gain a better overall understanding of music students’ physical struggles, its surrounding discourse, and how physical struggles relate to constrained movements, injuries, and other challenges in higher music education.