Music, Health, and Well-being explores the connections between music and well-being by bringing together experts in pedagogy, performance, medicine, and music research to offer unique insights into the interplay between music and health and its significance for musicians and non-musicians. The panel will begin with short presentations that emphasize the importance of maintaining physical health for musicians and share strategies to optimise performance and mental health for performers. These issues are discussed within the tertiary music conservatoire context and will address the broader impact of music on well-being within the community. Following the presentations, a panel discussion will weave together these diverse perspectives, offering an understanding of music’s transformative role in promoting holistic health, how this can inform the best performance and pedagogical practices and music’s impact on society.
Health and Well-Being, Fine-Tuned for Musicians
Dr. June Tan Sheren
Performing artists combine artistry, expression, and creativity with high precision. Their tasks require extraordinary levels of physical fitness and mental acumen. They have unique health needs often poorly understood by medical practitioners, and are at risk of injuries and illness which can be career-threatening. Performing Arts Medicine is the field of medicine that plugs this gap. For musicians, the spectrum of care includes vocal, aural, musculoskeletal, and psychosocial health, along with preventive care. Dr June will speak on how she delivers musicians’ medicine through a holistic approach to students of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music as a Primary Care and Performing Arts Medicine physician.
Investigating the Relationships Between Music and Health On and Off Campus
A/P Kathleen Rose Agres Dr. Agres will provide a brief overview of the recently-launched Centre for Music and Health (CMH), as well as the global momentum for arts & health that helped spur its creation. She will discuss several local programmes and interventions that leverage music for health and well-being. These include community-based initiatives, and a music and dance program for students on campus. Dr. Agres will also share recent findings that connect students’ mental health, quality of life, musical background, and music-based mood regulation strategies. The results of this latter study have meaningful implications for both musical training and listening, as well as students’ use of music to support their mental health and quality of life.
Healthy Hands and Holistic Well-Being Frank DeMeglio In practicing their craft, performing artists display a degree of athleticism similar to that of elite athletes. Akin to athletes, performing artists often push through tension, pain, and injury, resulting in a shockingly high percentage of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) that many performers accept as a ‘normal’. Such injuries damage more than one’s physical well-being, however. Anger, frustration, loss of confidence, and feelings of inadequacy can be the unfortunate consequences of poor biomechanics. Performing arts related medical specialists have become more common, and many arts conservatories now have therapists on staff to address students’ mental, emotional, and physical health.
At the tertiary education level, many performing arts teachers would prefer to focus on artistic expression rather than on basic mechanics. Yet in doing so, there is a missed opportunity to address the health of the whole student. Just as strain, pain, and injury are the results of poor performing habits, efficient biomechanics can relieve not only the debilitating physical effects of RSI, but they can also go a long way towards healing mental, emotional, and psychological scars.
Senior Lecturer, Music, LASALLE College of the Arts
Lecturer, School of Contemporary Music, LASALLE College of the Arts
Dr Kat Agres
Assistant Professor, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore
Dr June Tan Sheren
Family Physician and Consulting Physician for the Musicians' Clinic, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, NUS
Darren Moore is an internationally recognised musician and Senior Lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. His research interests centre on interdisciplinary work and collaborative improvisation. In 2013 he completed a Doctorate in Musical Arts in performance at Griffith University, Australia, which explored adapting Carnatic Indian rhythms to the drum set. His output is forward-looking and aims to align teaching, professional practice, and research interests.
During the previous 37 years, Frank has studied and taught the Taubman Approach to piano playing. The Taubman Approach is a systematic, comprehensive method of using the natural motions of the human body to overcome even the most difficult technical pianistic hurdles. He has been on the faculty of LASALLE’s School of Contemporary Music since 2009 and taught keyboard literature at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music for 17 years.
Dr. Kat Agres is Assistant Professor at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Director of the Centre for Music and Health. She received her PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Cornell University, and has a degree in Cognitive Psychology and Cello Performance from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research investigates music cognition, the impacts of music on health and well-being, music MedTech, and computational creativity.
Dr Sheren graduated from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS and completed postgraduate studies in Family Medicine in 2002. She holds a Masters in Performing Arts Medicine from University College London and is a pioneer in the holistic, multi-dimensional approach to caring for performing artists. She is a family physician in private practice, serves as medical advisor to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and runs a Musicians’ Clinic for students of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. In her spare time, she plays the piano and cello.