Performance-related musculoskeletal pain, depression and music performance anxiety in professional orchestral musicians

a population study

Dianna Kenny*, Bronwen Ackermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)


We examined self-reported frequency and severity of performance-related musculoskeletal pain disorder (PRMD), trigger point pain (TPP) and depression, social phobia (SPIN) and music performance anxiety (MPA) using the Kenny Music Performance Anxiety Inventory (K-MPAI) in a cross-sectional survey of 377 professional orchestral musicians. Most (84%) musicians had experienced performance-impairing pain; 50% reported current pain. Females reported more performance-impairing pain and more current pain than males. Cluster analysis indicated a complex relationship between depression and PRMD severity. Three clusters showed the hypothesized relationship (i.e., more depression, more pain). Musicians in the fourth cluster denied depression but reported the most severe pain, suggesting a group who somatize their psychological distress. Cluster analysis also revealed a strong relationship between PRMD severity and MPA. Clusters with higher scores on K-MPAI reported higher scores on PRMD severity. TPP was not associated with self-reported PRMD frequency or severity. There was a significant linear relationship between TPP and MPA for females, but males scoring the highest MPA reported lower TPP than those with milder MPA. Neither SPIN nor beta blocker use was associated with PRMD frequency or severity. The complex relationships identified between PRMD, TPP, depression and MPA may have important implications for PRMD management in professional musicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • depression
  • music performance anxiety
  • performance-related musculoskeletal pain
  • professional musicians
  • trigger point

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