Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Chris Lee


The purpose of this study was to understand the lived-experience of professional instrumental musicians who have experienced playing-related injuries. This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology developed to examine this lived-experience. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten professional musicians. This was followed by a focus group where preliminary findings were presented to participants and their feedback was sought. Other sources of lived-experience included participant-observation by the researcher, who is a musician and has experienced injuries; and biographic and artistic representations of musical performance and its loss, including literature, films and television.

The findings were summarized in a visual representation unique to this study. The representation illustrates three roles – musician, worker and teacher – that are participated in, and disrupted by, the experience of being injured. In addition, the experience of a playing-related injury takes place within the context of a healthcare system which was perceived as insufficient to meet their needs. Specialized care was rarely available, and if available, was not local or timely; treatment operated on a fee-for-service model when many musicians had meagre incomes and lacked coverage for these services; and treatment provided often failed to allow musicians to continue to perform at the level they had previously achieved. Finally, the representation illustrated four existentials – lived time, space, body and social relations – that permeated the experience. This study suggests that improvements to healthcare delivery and education of musicians, music teachers and healthcare professionals are needed. It also suggests that occupation and the experience of flow can be detrimental to health, and this impact needs to be considered in future research and in clinical applications.



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