DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas College of Music will begin offering the world’s first Ph.D. in music with a concentration in performing arts health in fall 2018. The doctoral degree will focus on hearing, vocal, musculoskeletal and psychological health of musicians and other performing artists.
“It’s really exciting to help develop classes for this unique program,” said Kourtney Austin, teaching fellow in performing arts health. “As a new degree plan, it leaves students wide open to pursue their specific research interests.”
The degree will integrate existing classes from departments across the university to provide a broad understanding of body mechanics, wellness and hygienic practices.
“The Texas Education Agency now requires all middle and high school music educators to teach students about health and safety related to their craft,” said Kris Chesky, professor and co-director of the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health. “This degree program, offered through the TCPAH, combines the skills of musicians, music educators, engineers, speech pathologists, audiologists, psychologists and physicians to develop a well-rounded education and support for music students.”
Austin, who also teaches at Grayson College, says awareness is the main goal of the research-based degree.
“We need to get the knowledge out there that musicians need to protect their bodies,” Austin said. “In the case of vocalists, they need to know how to prevent overuse, misuse and abuse of their voices. Instrumentalists need to learn the proper ways to hold their instruments to prevent potentially career-ending injuries.”
The new concentration is part of a longstanding partnership with UNT’s Health Science Center, where TCPAH co-director Sajid Surve teaches osteopathic medicine.
“By bringing the full resources of the UNT System to bear on this problem of performing arts health, I believe that we have the opportunity to meaningfully impact both the music and medicine disciplines on a global scale,” Surve said.
Surve and his team spend two days per week at UNT’s Denton campus working with performers for musculoskeletal injury management and prevention.
For more information on TCPAH and the new doctoral concentration in performing arts health, visit tcpah.unt.edu.