UNT to offer world’s first performing arts health doctoral degree

UNT to offer world’s first performing arts health doctoral degree

UNT to offer world’s first performing arts health doctoral degree
January 22
15:51 2018

The UNT College of Music will offer the world’s first doctoral degree in performing arts health beginning in fall 2018.

This program, offered in partnership with the UNT Health Science Center, will be concentrated in four health areas: musculoskeletal, auditory, mental and vocal health. The doctoral degree is expected to take three years, with two years of coursework and one year for a dissertation.

“The evolution of this idea can be traced back, really, to 2004 when we hosted a national conference called Health Promotion in Schools of Music,” said Kris Chesky, Texas Center for Performing Arts Health co-director and music and medicine professor. “We had a three-day conference here, specifically devoted to brainstorming as to what could happen inside the school of music.”

Chesky said this conference, funded by organizations such as the Grammy Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, magnified two considerations on how to address performing arts health: what resources a university would have to help musicians and what is known about the basis, addressability and preventability of performing health issues.

“We have, over the years, developed these resources so we have pretty good hearing health resources, speech/language pathology specialists,” Chesky said. “But on this side, we kept pushing for statements in our accrediting body.”

The accrediting body, the National Association of Schools of Music, writes the handbook for all music schools and in 2011, ratified its accreditation standard requiring schools to teach students about musician health. At around the same time, the Texas Education Agency ratified new TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) standards, requiring public schools to meet music health-related learning objectives.

All this culminated with UNT spending the last year creating a performing arts health doctoral program and passing it through various steps of approval.

“There’s a requirement by the national accrediting body, NASM again, to approve it before we can start it,” Chesky said. “We were notified of that approval right before Christmas, so we haven’t really known that we were able to do this up until literally a month ago.”

Nabeel Zuhdi, a classical guitar player of 20 years who is getting his doctorate in performing arts health, understands the importance of a degree program like this.

“There’s already a lack of research in this field,” Zuhdi said. “This could inform teachers on how to develop new methods that are raising awareness in this and clinicians to know how to deal with musicians.”

Practical applications for this degree, depending on a person’s goals, include doing more research in this field, continuing to perform or applying this knowledge to help musicians improve their health and the way they play.

Katy Hinton, a music education sophomore who plays the viola, said a performing arts health doctoral program would help musicians think about the integral health aspect of performing.

“It’s extremely important,” Hinton said about musicians being aware of potential health problems. “A lot of my friends have tendonitis from not playing properly. I myself have shoulder pain.”

Hinton said health is definitely an area where musicians don’t pay as much attention as they should, which leads to injuries.

“In my experience, not a lot of people think about it because it’s not like a sport,” Hinton said. “If we don’t do stretches or warm-ups or practice these things correctly, then pain can really result from that.”

Featured Image: Kris Chesky is a music and medicine professor and is a Co-Director of the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health. Victoria Nguyen

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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4 Comments

  1. Sam
    Sam January 24, 00:12

    Please consider getting an Alexander Technique Instructor for this degree otherwise it would be missing the truest component of health in the arts.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Guy
    Guy January 24, 18:32

    Who would someone contact regarding this degree program?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Lawrence
    Lawrence January 25, 12:48

    A performing arts health doctoral degree is a new conceptual idea that can finally bring together two perfectly matched strangers: years of modern exercise science with the personal specifics of artistry. This is the beginning for teaching how to preserve the most talented and beautiful resources — all of us.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Dr Loden Rogers
    Dr Loden Rogers May 26, 06:48

    Who would someone contact regarding this degree program?Thanks for sharing such interesting post.

    Reply to this comment

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