Music As A Contact Sport

Conductor Keith Lockhart tore his rotator cuff last year, as a direct result of what he does for a living. Laugh if you must, but what orchestral musicians (even conductors) do onstage is a physical nightmare for the human body, and injuries are becoming increasingly common. String players contort their arms and shoulders into impossible positions to reach around their instruments, brass players spend hours with their lips frozen in a pucker, and a conductor leading a Mahler symphony might not drop his hands to his sides for more than a few seconds in a 90-minute performance. Many musicians are adapting new methods of relaxation and muscle relief in an effort to stave off career-threatening injuries.