Musicians sought for study on preventing fatigue

April 28, 2015 11:30 AM

Mary Ann Travis

Ellis Marsalis

Calling all piano, string and guitar musicians of 50 years and older: You are invited to be part of a study on fine motor control — the fingers mainly — and ways to prevent fatigue by wearing a cooling garment between performances. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

“New Orleans is musicians, and we need to keep our musicians healthy.”

Lauren Jensen, PhD student conducting study on musicians’ fatigue

Musicians give so much pleasure and joy. During the pause between the two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, it seems right to express gratitude for how much musicians give us — and how hard they work.
And it’s also a good time to recognize that they might be getting tired.
Joyous and fun-filled as it is, the Jazz Fest is sometimes kind of an endurance test. Festivalgoers contend with rain and lines and mud. But, musicians, especially, are playing in a strenuous environment.
“It’s hot out there,” says Lauren Jensen, a PhD student in aging studies at Tulane University. “Musicians may be overworked because of increased practiced hours for a gig like Jazz Fest.”

And musicians at this time of the festival season may be playing in multiple venues with various bands.
Jensen is studying ways to mitigate musicians’ fatigue. Injuries can occur when a musician, like anyone involved in physical activity, is beat.
“We want to increase time to fatigue, prevent injury and make a difference in a musician’s life,” says Jensen. “New Orleans is musicians, and we need to keep our musicians healthy.”
She’s already conducted simple tests with about a dozen musicians — piano, string and guitar players — measuring the fatigue of their pinkie and ring fingers while evaluating the effects of wearing a cooling garment.
“Muscle cooling, especially intermittent cooling at appropriate temperatures, has been shown to improve certain types of performance,” says Jensen.
Jensen hopes to recruit 20 more musicians 50 years of age or older to participate in the study. Musicians are compensated $10 after completing two 90-minute sessions, which must be separated by at least three days. Contact Jensen by phone 504-247-1881 at the Center for Anatomical and Movement Science at the Reily Student Recreation Center on the Tulane University uptown campus or by email.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu