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Overstrain Injuries in Brass Players: Causes and Cure: A Brass Player's Testament


Copyright 2024, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Belfrage, B.
Journal Title: n/a
Date Published: 2006
Language: English
Category: Overuse Syndrome and Musculoskeletal Injuries
Key Words: hand music strain stress brass French horn medical instrument musician
Full Citation: Belfrage, Bengt. Overstrain Injuries in Brass Players: Causes and Cure: A Brass-Player's Testament. 2nd ed. Stockholm: SMI Verlag, 2006.
Full Abstract: Bengt Belfrage is a former first horn of the Berlin Philharmonic and teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. ...The subject of this 32-page book is evident from the title; the causes of overstrain injuries are both individual and general, and Belfrage begins with some parallels between injuries in sports and music. One key to success is building up strength in the embouchure, and we are presented with descriptions of why this is important and how one can go about avoiding problems in this area. Therein lies his premise- overstrain injuries can, in fact, be avoided if one is intelligent in practice and aware of proper priorities while playing. He lists five causes of overstrain injuries: insufficient warming up; inadequate physical conditioning for demanding practice and concert work; poor breathing technique; practicing while in poor health; excessive variations in load, including the roles of rest and recuperation in relation to changes in workload. Each of these causes receives attention regarding how and why these create overstrain, and what can be done to avoid it. Following these, there are sections on psychological tensions, stress and nerves, practicing the performance, learning technique in ways that create positive habits, concentration and mental preparation, embouchure, and air stream. The overall goal is a worthy one- to get maximum results from minimum effort. This requires a strong, supple embouchure, relaxed, efficient breathing, and intelligent practice routines that build strength and are adaptable to each player's current physical capacity. Add to this a personal self-awareness and the patience to practice slowly and correctly every time, and there is no doubt of success.