Performing Arts medicine is an emerging field of medicine that focuses on the health needs of performing artists – dancers, instrumentalists, vocalists and actors (“DIVAs”). Performing Art Medicine (PAM) deals with conditions that impact a performing artist’s ability to perform at their highest level – for example injuries, unique medical problems, psychological issues, etc – with the aim of returning the individual as soon as possible to that desired level. By professional performers’ standards, this usually means perfection.
Arts medicine does not settle for second-best; it is not quite the same methods treating a finger injury in a non-performer and rehabilitating a musician to 100% recovery. Like sports medicine, performing arts medicine addresses the special challenges associated with “super-normal function” (Sataloff, Brandfonbrener, Lederman).
A study showed that 82% of musicians had a medical problem at some time in their careers, while 72% had experienced a problem severe enough to affect their performance ability. The same study showed a high prevalence of psychological issues ranging from performance anxiety (stage fright) to major depression. An important aspect of healthcare is preventative care which seeks to keep the performing artist in the best of health, physically and mentally, through an engaging relationship with his/her primary doctor and allied health professionals.
About Dr June Tan Sheren
I am a Primary Care Physician in active practice for 20 years, and also an amateur pianist and cellist. I love the stage – music, dance, opera, drama, theatre. My husband Peter and I have supported the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for years. We travel the world for opera. Peter serves on the board of The People’s Music School, a not-for-profit music school in Chicago that provides free music tuition to the underprivileged. I started playing the piano at 7, and even after ‘finishing’ formal music education with Grade 8 ABRSM exams, I continued playing in church, on my own and now with my 7 year-old daughter.
At the age of 35 I took up the cello while living in Berlin, Germany, and have continued to dabble in it. Learning a very different instrument as an adult presented many interesting challenges for me as a medical doctor. I had grade 1-2 trigger fingers involving my ring and little fingers and had initially put it down to aging, but was not quite sure how best to treat, prevent, and be able to keep playing or even advance technically. Then I discovered the field of Performing Arts Medicine – and plunged right into it.
Certification in PAM has given me the core skills and essentials in identifying and managing both physical and mental health concerns in the performing arts. I am able to leverage on my skills and experience in primary care and my extensive network here in Singapore to provide holistic care for performing artists.