Understanding wellbeing among college music students and amateur musicians in Western Switzerland

Antonini Philippe, R. and Kosirnik, C. and Vuichoud, N. and Williamon, A. and Crettaz von Roten, F. (2019) Understanding wellbeing among college music students and amateur musicians in Western Switzerland. Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (820). ISSN 1664-1078


Musical performance requires the ability to master a complex integration of highly specialized motor, cognitive, and perceptual skills developed over years of practice. It often means also being able to deal with considerable pressure within dynamic environments. Consequently, many musicians suffer from health-related problems and report a large number of physical and psychological complaints. Our research aimed to evaluate and analyze the wellbeing of two distinct groups of musicians, college music students and amateur performers in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. A total sample of 126 musicians was recruited for the study (mean age ±SD = 22.4 ± 4.5 years, 71 male). Wellbeing was assessed through the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF questionnaire evaluating two general measures, quality of life (QoL) and general health, and four specific dimensions: physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environment. For both groups, respondents’ QoL was high on each measure: median scores were higher than 4 for the two general measures and higher than 70 for the four specific dimensions. Among the dimensions, respondents had the highest mean score for environment (75.0), then social relationships and physical health (74.0 and 73.8, respectively), and finally, psychological health (70.3). Differences between groups of musicians emerged in terms of overall QoL and general health, as well as the physical health dimension, where college music students scored lower than the amateur musicians; conversely, college music students scored higher than the amateurs on social relationships. Our overview of musicians’ wellbeing in Western Switzerland demonstrates that, while music making can offer some health protective effects, there is a need for greater health awareness and promotion among advanced music students. This research offers insight into musicians’ wellbeing and points to the importance of involving different actors (teachers, administrators, support staff) in facilitating healthy music making.

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