A Study of Students' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of an Interdisciplinary Method for Teaching Injury-Preventive Piano Technique
By: Barbara Ann Lister-Sink
Published: 05/20/2015
Uploaded: 03/12/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2015 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Biomechanics

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Description/Abstract: The rate of playing-related neuromusculoskeletal disorders (PRNDs) in advanced pianists remains consistently high worldwide, often limiting or ending study and playing careers. Injured pianists—desperate for solutions—seek out allegedly scientifically-informed approaches to developing injury-preventive technique but none of these approaches have been seriously investigated. This mixed-methods study investigated one interdisciplinary, non-traditional approach (the “Method”) that had received considerable anecdotal support but had not been studied systematically to ascertain its efficacy in recovering from and preventing recurrence of PRNDs, as well as its effects on technique, musicality, and extra-musical factors. Participants included undergraduate and graduate students, independent piano teachers, college teachers, and professional pianists and organists who had studied the Method for at least two academic semesters between 1990 and 2015.

An anonymous survey was administered to 103 pianists and organists aged 22 to 82, with 74 (N=74) pianists responding (71.8%), and 26 pianists and organists were interviewed in-depth. Survey and interview results established that participants perceived the Method as significantly helpful in facilitating recovery from PRNDs. Significance of relationships among codes included correlations of .70 between the code “it works” and “playing without injury,” and .66 between “it works” and “playing again.” Interviewees also perceived the Method as helpful in preventing recurrence of PRNDs, as shown by the high correlation between the codes “will help prevent injuries” and “learned a lot from studying the Method” (.67). A one-sample t-test performed on the survey data also showed a positive perception (p < .001) of the Method in helping recovery from and prevention of recurrence of PRNDs. Additionally, both the survey and interview participants reported improvement of technique and musicality with many also reporting enhancement of their extra-musical lives. A one-sample t-test on the survey data showed these improvements to be significant at a 5% level or better. Research also yielded data on psychological, emotional, and professional challenges to learning the Method, as well as reactions to specific aspects of the Method. It is hoped that the data might serve as a baseline and become a useful model for the investigation of other approaches for teaching injury-preventive piano technique.