UNT to offer world’s first music performing arts health Ph.D. next fall

The symphony at work

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, UNT announced Tuesday, Jan. 9. According to a university news release, the degree will focus on the hearing, vocal, musculoskeletal and psychological health of musicians and other performing artists.

“It’s really exciting to help develop classes for this unique program,” Kourtney Austin, teaching fellow in performing arts health, said in the release. “As a new degree plan, it leaves students wide open to pursue their specific research interests.”

Austin says the main goal of the research-based doctoral degree is to increase musicians’ awareness of the need to protect their bodies.

“In the case of vocalists, they need to know how to prevent overuse, misuse and abuse of their voices,” she said in the release. “Instrumentalists need to learn the proper ways to hold their instruments to prevent potentially career-ending injuries.”

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The new degree plan will integrate existing classes from various university departments to provide students with a comprehensive 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,” Kris Chesky, professor and co-director of the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health, said in the release. “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.”

Sajid Surve, TCPAH co-director and osteopathic medicine professor at UNT’s Health Science Center, said this new concentration has come out of the longstanding partnership between the TCPAH and UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. Currently Surve and his team are at UNT’s Denton campus two days per week working with musicians on musculoskeletal injury management and prevention.

“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.

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For more information on the new doctoral degree:  www.tcpah.unt.edu.