Playing (Less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians

Published by Hal Leonard

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April, 2010
ISBN: 9781423488460
ISBN-13: 978-1423488460
234 pages

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Listen to Janet discuss hearing issues on The Cello Sherpa Podcast


Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing (Less) Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

For more information about Janet’s seminars please visit and click on the info tab.


“I have just finished reading this magnificent book. Amazing! I am so impressed by the incredible work that Ms. Horvath has done on the issues that plague many musicians. This book has invaluable advice on how all musicians, young and older, can avoid repetitive stress injury entirely. In spite of world class training, I’ve had lower back surgery, hearing loss, and both reconstructive hand and shoulder surgery in the course of my 30 year career. It took me these injuries and years of thinking and experimenting to arrive at the conclusions contained within the book; the book is an incredibly valuable wealth of knowledge and information that will educate musicians to practice and play smarter, healthier and happier! I plan to make it required reading for all of my students at my university. I also recommend it highly to my colleagues! Thank you on behalf of all of us.”

–Stephen Balderston
Former Section Cello, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Former Assistant Principal, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Professor of Cello, DePaul University School of Music
Cellist, The American Chamber Players


“As someone who has been teaching instrumental playing principles for well nigh seven decades, I find Ms. Horvath s book rife with helpful, valuable, and entertaining data. The ground she covers is immense, written with knowledge, understanding, style, aplomb and humor. No reader can put it down without some beneficial learning.”

–Janos Starker
Distinguished Professor of Music Indiana University


“Musicians too often suffer pain and dysfunction strikingly at odds with their extraordinary skill and the perceived ease of their achievements. Janet Horvath s eloquent guide provides a much-needed reference for diagnosing, treating, and avoiding these potentially devastating conditions. Her book comes to the rescue of even the most brilliant teachers and their equally brilliant students.”

–Garrick Ohlsson
Concert Pianist


“We thank you so much for the book. It certainly is full of terrific information and beautifully organized … also very readable! It must be truly helpful to every musician who has a physical problem of some kind (i.e. just about everybody!)”

–Gary Graffman
Director of the Curtis Institute and renowned pianist

From Amazon

“As a physician who had a specialized musicians’ clinic for many years, I was often asked where musicians as well as health professionals could get further information. Playing Less Hurt by cellist Janet Horvath is my top choice as it is accurate, eloquent and readable, written from the insight of a gifted musician and teacher, yet medical aspects are well researched. Prevention as well as management of recurring problems is so important; the author does a masterful job listing signs and symptoms to be aware of, when to seek treatment, and taking the shame away from doing so. Then she offers tips for resuming playing and preventing chronic disability. The illustrations, though simple, are useful in helping musicians to correctly do exercises, and adjust their posture. Amateur and professional musicians, therapists and physicians all find this book a source they frequently turn to. Some of my patients even kept it in their instrument cases! There are now other books on these problems but this is the most well balanced as far as advice from an experienced musician who understands the medical basis of problems and treatment.”
I used this book extensively in my undergraduate thesis work “The Flutist’s Health” and enjoyed it immensely. There are clear diagrams and easy-to-follow instructions on playing with less pain and taking care of yourself. As a player who has experienced the physical pain and psychological stress associated with overuse problems, I fully understand the value of this book. It is great for those with injuries on how to get back in the game and avoid future problems, as well as for those who want to make a living as a professional musician and have not experienced an injury – yet. Help yourself to avoid becoming injured from overpracticing and learn how you are like an athlete!
Playing (Less) Hurt is an indispensable resource for musicians and the medical professionals who treat them. The author has the authority of decades of orchestral playing, teaching, and expertise in performance medicine. Reading and applying this book is like having the author by your side as a knowing guide and partner in preventing musician injuries. I recommend it most highly to musicians, musician patients, and their treating practitioners.
This is a FANTASTIC book. It is the best book on the market for injury prevention in musicians. I require all my students to read it. It is written to make the information accessible and is a great resource.
This book would be an outstanding addition to any musician’s library and should be required reading for every collegiate music major. The information contained in this text can ensure that musician’s, amateur or professional, can continue to make music throughout their lifetime.
I am a massage therapist and have ordered 3 copies of this for my musical clients and for myself.

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