Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views, Issue no. 7 March-April 2001


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The MUSICOR: Making Music Comfortable

By Jane Vincent (jane@wid.org)

Mention repetitive strain injury to most people these days, and the assumption tends to be that the injury's cause is improper computer use. However, there has long been a variety of repetitive human activities that have caused injuries to the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, neck or back. High on the list has often been piano playing, which involves unrelieved muscle tension, awkward hand positioning, and excessive, static force on the muscles and tendons--all of which can contribute to pain and discomfort among pianists. (1.) In addition, many individuals with disabilities other than RSI (e.g., arthritis) may have difficulty playing the piano without significant pain or fatigue.

Maria Saboya, a Parisian piano player and teacher, has developed a device called "MUSICOR" to facilitate piano playing among individuals with existing disabilities and help prevent new or further injury. She describes the MUSICOR as "a mobile support for the arms and hands. It is mounted on a bar that runs the length of the musical instrument or work station (up to 2 meters) and along which it slides and articulates, due to use of ball bearings. It immediately and without effort follows all the player's gestures and lateral, circular, and back-and-forth movements. It can be used with a piano or organ, a computer, a desk or table, etc." The support itself is composed of two pieces, one of which fits near the elbow and the other of which fits under the wrist; both of these pieces are mounted on bases that move along the bar. The entire device mounts to the underside of the piano or other furniture by use of a vise grip.

Ms. Saboya's device has been written up in several French publications. She has received attention from a variety of disability organizations in France and has received funding from the National Association of Fund Management for Employment of Disabled Persons (AGEFIPH). She is hoping to find an American institution or university that will let her further develop methods for training individuals with disabilities to play piano with the help of the MUSICOR.

For further information, contact
Ms. Saboya c/o Marie-Claude Dagens, marie-claude.dagens@caes.cnrs.fr.

Bibliography
Mark, Thomas. "Pianist's Injuries: Movement Retraining is the Key to Recovery." Available at http://www.engr.unl.edu/ee/eeshop/tommark.html


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