Accessibility statement

Health and wellness for musicians in the Department of Music

The Department offers a range of support, services and educational opportunities to help enhance musicians' health and wellbeing.

Mental health first aid

Most members of staff in the Department have completed a half-day session on Mental Health First Aid. In addition, the individuals listed below have completed the full two-day course equipping them as Mental Health First Aiders:

  • Catherine Duncan (Department Manager)
  • Dr Liz Haddon (Programme Leader: MA Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching)
  • Dr Naomi Norton (Musicians’ Health and Wellness Coordinator)
  • Ángel Cataño Flores (Facilities and Equipment Assistant)
  • Mimi O’Neill (Student Mental Health Representative)

If you would like to speak to someone from outside the Department who is qualified as a Mental Health First Aider this Mental Health First Contact Network can help you find an appropriate person.

Department of Music Wellbeing and Mental Health Scheme

As current Music students and as emerging professionals, we know that our industry can be very stressful and draining - particularly if you are already dealing with an existing mental health issue - but the problem never seems to be discussed between musicians.

This is why, in the 2020/21 academic year, we've launched the Department of Music Wellbeing and Mental Health Scheme. The long-term goal for the scheme is to encourage honest and meaningful conversations about musicians’ mental health within the Department, thus helping to fight the stigma attached to it.

Our first step towards achieving this is the introduction of a new undergraduate and postgraduate mental health rep system: a group of representatives has volunteered to be advocates within the Department for wellbeing and mental health, acting as points of contact to voice anything you want with those who have mental health training, and an interest in supporting musicians’ mental health and wellness.

The reps are here to listen and signpost further options, whether you just need a chat or have bigger concerns. If you have any questions about the Department of Music Wellbeing and Mental Health Scheme, please contact one of the reps: Anna Nightingale (UG), Heidi Rae (UG), Oliver Turner (UG), Matt Hua (UG) and Marianna Cortesi (PG), or email music-WHMreps@york.ac.uk.

Department of Music Contact System

To help welcome and integrate incoming freshers to the workings of both the University and Department, the Department of Music operates a Contact System. Freshers are put into contact with two or three current undergraduate students who have signed up to be ‘Music Contacts’.

This system makes sure that each fresher has contact with people in their own year (as each pair of contacts will be assigned roughly three freshers) as well as students in the years above. These contacts are the ‘go to’ people for questions and worries about the move to university as well as life in the Department of Music.

As all contacts are undergraduate students themselves, they understand the concerns and queries that the incoming freshers will have, and are a friendly face to welcome them as they arrive into the Department.

The Contact System is overseen by Jess Lloyd, the Department of Music representative with YUSU, and a small number of other Third Year undergraduate students who are there to make sure the Contacts have been in touch with the freshers and are a point of contact if there is an immediate problem with any of the pairings. If you have any questions about the Department of Music Contact System, please contact Jess Lloyd at musicrep@yusu.org.

Life Coaching and Alexander Technique with Julie Parker

Julie Parker is an ILM Level 7 equivalent Accredited Coach (with Distinction) and qualified teacher of the Alexander Technique with over 27 years’ experience. She has taken the University of York Mental Health First Aid short course. Julie worked for three years as part of primary healthcare in the NHS and now works with students at the University of York.

Making music is a matter of the whole person - body, mind, and emotions. When those are all in harmony, they contribute to performing with ease, flow and joy. When any of those are out of kilter, it disrupts the entire process. There are a myriad of stimuli at this time which create disruption and prevent us from optimal performance - both in our music and everyday life.

Part of the support we offer in the Department is a free Alexander Technique/Coaching session with Julie Parker to help you clarify your goals and uncover the ways of thinking and acting which prevent optimal performance and enjoyment of your music making. Due to budgetary constraints, ongoing sessions cannot be covered by the Department, but are subsidised. During this time it is not possible to do ‘hands on’ sessions in the Department; however, Julie is offering socially-distant sessions in person, or online sessions over Zoom (subject to national Covid-19 guidelines).

To take advantage of your free session, please text Julie on 0784 171 2942, or contact her through the Facebook Group. If you wish to have an in-person session, you will need to sign a form confirming that you do not have any Covid-19 symptoms, and that you have not knowingly been in contact with anyone who has symptoms, or who has tested positive, within the last 14 days.

Please ensure you have a mask for the session, and if you are a singer or a wind instrumentalist, wrap up warm, as we will have a window open! Please also ensure you follow guidelines for sanitising and social distancing. Below are videos from two students letting you know what value they received from ‘hands off’ sessions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLu015p7jNA&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ska7RrHvxfY&feature=youtu.be

Across courses and modules, staff members are available to provide informal support to students as well as regular formal tutorials during the year. In addition, there are specified sessions within curriculum time ensuring that students have access to vital information about how to promote and protect their own health and wellness as well as that of other musicians:

  • Undergraduate 20-credit module entitled ‘Musicians’ Health and Wellness’ (Spring Term 2020-21): see the module catalogue for more information.
  • Studio induction for users of the Department studios that includes basic coverage of physiology and anatomy of the human auditory system and audiology and guidance on other aspects of safe studio working (eg electrical safety, and trip hazards).
  • Seminars within the MA Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching course focusing on introducing students to health and wellness in their dual roles as learners and teachers (led by Dr Naomi Norton and other colleagues within the Department).
  • Seminars within the MA Music Psychology pathway focusing on hearing protection and music performance anxiety (led by Dr Hauke Egermann).
  • IPC pre-sessional guest lecture for Arts and Humanities students entitled ‘Studying (Music) Healthily’ (led by Dr Naomi Norton) to introduce students to the support and advice on offer within the Department and University more broadly.

Curriculum time

Across courses and modules, staff members are available to provide informal support to students as well as regular formal tutorials during the year. In addition, there are specified sessions within curriculum time ensuring that students have access to vital information about how to promote and protect their own health and wellness, as well as that of other musicians.

  • Undergraduate 20-credit module entitled ‘Musicians’ Health and Wellness’ (Spring Term 2020-21): see the module catalogue for more information.
  • Studio induction for users of the Department studios that includes basic coverage of physiology and anatomy of the human auditory system, and audiology and guidance on other aspects of safe studio working (eg electrical safety and trip hazards).
  • Seminars within the MA Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching course focusing on introducing students to health and wellness in their dual roles as learners and teachers (led by Dr Naomi Norton and other colleagues within the Department).
  • Seminars within the MA Music Psychology pathway focusing on hearing protection and music performance anxiety (led by Dr Hauke Egermann).
  • IPC pre-sessional guest lecture for Arts and Humanities students entitled ‘Studying (Music) Healthily’ (led by Dr Naomi Norton) to introduce students to the support and advice on offer within the Department and University more broadly.

Performance classes and other events

In previous academic years the Department of Music has run weekly performance classes open to all students, teachers, and staff members that included sessions focusing on topics relating to musicians’ health and wellness. (For more information please visit the Pperformance Class webpage).

Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department is not able to run this series during the Autumn Term of the 2020/21 academic year, but will review the situation as the year progresses and resume classes as and when possible. 

Previous health and wellness-related sessions as part of the Performance Class series have included: 

  • Introduction to musicians’ health and wellness (Naomi Norton)
  • Performing with greater ease (Julie Parker)
  • Introduction to Alexander Technique (Julie Parker)
  • Warm-up exercises for singers (Yvonne Seymour)
  • You are not inadequate: mental health workshop (Enya Doyle)
  • Hearing health (Finola Ryan from BAPAM)

Wellbeing spaces

The Department has a wellbeing space currently in development at the top of the stairs leading to E118, 119 and 120. This space is for students to support their wellbeing and is a place where information is provided relating to mental health and where students can take time to support each other.

At present, given the COVID-19 pandemic, using the departmental wellbeing space is problematic, so you could consider developing a personal wellbeing space where you live: this might involve putting up some fairy lights, bringing a plant into the area, maybe having some incense or candles (though pay attention to fire safety!), and not bringing electronic devices into the area to help you switch off.

Creating spaces where you can get away from work and go to feel safe and calm is really important, especially in shared accommodation, and while we are living within a global pandemic and more restricted than normal.