Liverpool Philharmonic, Help Musicians UK and LJMU announce pioneering research partnership


Physiotherapist and Masters Graduate Céleste Rousseau will undertake a three-year PhD research and development programme into injury prevention, focusing on common and significant injuries experienced by orchestral musicians. Starting with the musicians of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the research will also reach classical musicians across the UK to develop a range of injury assessment, prevention and recovery interventions, to support and sustain healthy lifelong careers in the sector.

Delivered as a partnership with Liverpool Philharmonic, LJMU’s world-renowned Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES), and supported by independent music charity Help Musicians UK, the research was commissioned in response to UK and international research findings, which have consistently raised concerns regarding the prevalence and impact of ‘playing-related’ injuries for musicians.

Rousseau’s findings will be published throughout her PhD, to inform the sector as well as health professionals seeking to learn from and adopt any new methods specific to supporting musicians. She will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of LJMU’s world-leading sports science research, practices and technology which includes longstanding major partnerships with a host of professional football clubs including Liverpool, Everton, Tranmere Rovers, Manchester United and Real Madrid, in addition to sport governing bodies, the NHS and across a range of sports, from rugby to cycling.

Rousseau is the first PhD Student in Liverpool Philharmonic’s pioneering Musicians Performance and Wellbeing programme, which helps ensure musicians are equipped to thrive personally and professionally within the demands of consistently playing at the highest level in a professional symphony orchestra.

Established in 2015, the programme was set up with support from Help Musicians UK and Jerwood Arts and draws upon existing published research in performing arts health and learning from professional sport and performance science, where such support is considered a normal and crucial part of enhancing and optimising an athlete’s performance level.

Measures introduced for Liverpool Philharmonic musicians to date include injury prevention screening, hearing health surveillance, sports massage in Liverpool and on international tours, fast referral physiotherapy, individual performance coaching, individual appraisals, investment in musicians’ personal training and development, and wider health and wellbeing support services. 

Thelma Handy, Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra said:

‘A symphony orchestra is greater than the sum of its parts, it’s a body of artists and artistic excellence is at the heart of what we do. Our experience since we began our Musicians’ Performance and Wellbeing Programme in 2015 is that preventing injury is as important if not more so, than supporting recovery from it, in order to succeed at the highest level.

‘As well as supporting our own musicians in the orchestra, Céleste’s research will hopefully help to drive positive change across the music industry to ensure musicians are more effectively prepared and supported to meet the needs of a demanding profession throughout their training and professional careers.

‘I would like to thank my colleagues at Liverpool Philharmonic and LJMU, Help Musicians UK and Jerwood Arts for their partnership, support, commitment and belief in the value of  supporting the health and well-being of professional musicians; and to Céleste,  who we look forward to working with during the three years of her PhD research and development.’

Professor Bill Baltzopoulos, Head of LJMU’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, and the academic lead on this project together with Prof. Gabor Barton said:

‘This project is part of an exciting programme of collaboration between RISES at LJMU, Liverpool Philharmonic and Help Musicians UK. The main aim is to develop an innovative and effective musculoskeletal injury prevention framework for musicians, by designing appropriate screening tests for identifying instrument-specific risk factors in different musicians. This will enable targeted, individualised interventions for improving musculoskeletal health and promoting general health and wellbeing in orchestral musicians.’

Commenting on her PhD research, Céleste Rousseau said:

‘I am thrilled to be part of this ambitious project and through my research, I will do my best to enhance prevention of musculoskeletal injuries in musicians and contribute to knowledge and scientific evidences in the musicians’ health field.

‘I am grateful to my supervisors Prof Bill Baltzopoulos and Prof Gabor Barton at LJMU, Peter Garden at Liverpool Philharmonic and LJMU and Help Musicians UK for giving me this incredible opportunity to work on this topic during the next 3 years.’

On their continuing support since 2015 of Liverpool Philharmonic’s performance, health and wellbeing programme and this inaugural partnership, Claire Gevaux, Director of Programme, Help Musicians UK said: 

‘Help Musicians UK has been supporting the thinking and development behind this PhD research for nearly four years and we’re delighted to see if finally come to fruition. We would like to thank Celeste and our partners Liverpool Philharmonic and LJMU. As a research focused, evidence led charity that offers a lifetime of support when it’s needed the most, we’re excited to see the potential long term impact this unique study will have for all musicians in the UK and beyond.

We also look forward to seeing the potential impact in the health sector including clinicians and therapists, to share knowledge and best practice across the industry to sustain careers, prevent life-changing injuries and allow musicians to get the health support they need to consistently perform at their best in a demanding profession.’


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