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Laurence Libin

Apart from the dangers (cuts, burns, eye and muscle injury, dust inhalation, chemical toxicity, etc.) inherent in making instruments, playing and maintaining them also pose risks that belie the benign associations of music-making. When these risks are ignored, users and instrument technicians can suffer serious consequences. Musicians’ unions have drawn attention to health problems arising from performance conditions, and some medical doctors specialize in issues of concern to musicians; the Performing Arts Medical Association represents their interests in the USA. Physical therapists employ Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques among other corrective exercises aimed at improving performance functions. This article cites some typical occupational hazards, which range in severity from minor muscle strain to tooth displacement to permanently disabling accidents. For example, crushing injuries can result from unsafe moving of pianos, and a piano technician can lose an eye if a string breaks during restringing or tuning. Pipe organ technicians often work high within an organ’s case where, in old organs particularly, ladders, access boards, and pipe racks can give way, causing falls....