The spring issue of USC’s Trojan Family Magazine includes a feature article exploring the special relationship between musicians and the medical specialists who help to keep them in top performing condition. The piece profiled two USC Thornton students – Popular Music junior Javen Smith and Vocal Arts alumnus Justin Fatu Su’esu’e (MM ’16) – and the many physical therapists, otolaryngologists, and orthopedists at Keck Medicine of USC who are available to work with Thornton musicians.
USC Thornton has made a priority of healthy musicianship, launching the Musician’s Wellness Initiative in 2015 to provide resources, workshops, and lectures on topics such as vocal health, posture, hearing protection, and even performance anxiety. The school enjoys a unique collaboration with a major academic medical center, allowing students to consult with specialists at the USC Performing Arts Medicine Center, part of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, as well as the new USC Voice Center in the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.
William Kanengiser, a member of the USC Thornton Classical Guitar faculty and the Musician’s Wellness Initiative committee, was quoted in the article discussing the physical challenges that face musicians. “With the fine motor control that musicians must have, pain indicates that something’s wrong,” he said. “It should never hurt to perform.”
Mezzo-soprano Cynthia Munzer, who recently retired from the USC Thornton Vocal Arts faculty, noted that for vocalists, like athletes, the body is an instrument. “We are really athletes,” Munzer said. “Artistic athletes.”
Said Kanengiser, “We want to build awareness among students that good health and good habits are lifelong essentials for performers.”