Bridget’s PhD research, at the Odeion School of Music at the University of the Free State in South Africa, focused on tertiary level musicians’ performance health education.

PhD title: Tertiary music students’ experiences of an occupational health course incorporating the Body Mapping approach.

Her research investigated the incorporation of somatic education (body awareness, movement and sensory retraining) in comprehensive musicians’ occupational health coursework for university music students and explored the students’ lived experiences of the course. The methodology was Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Her supervisors were Dr Frelet de Villiers (University of the Free State) and Dr Judy Palac (Michigan State University).

The study aimed to provide information on both the value of preventative musicians’ occupational health coursework in undergraduate curricula, the integration of Body Mapping in such courses, course content in general, and the application of such a course in the South African context.

Bridget is on the team of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) international collaborative study designing, implementing, and assessing curricula for tertiary musicians’ health education. Read all about it: Health Education Literacy and Mobility for Musicians: a global approach.

Academic Publications



It is also available open access online at


Health education literacy and accessibility for musicians: a global approach. Report from the Worldwide Universities Network project


OBJECTIVE: To address the need for accessible health education and improved health literacy for musicians throughout their lifespan. METHODS: Formation of a multicultural, international, and interdisciplinary collaborative research team, funded by the Worldwide Universities Network. The goal is to design a multi-strand research program to develop flexible and accessible approaches to health education for musicians, thus improving their health literacy. RESULTS: Two team meetings took place in 2018. The first was held 11 to 15 April 2018 in Perth, Australia, and involved a review of existing literature and interventions on health education in music schools, intensive development of research topics, aims, and methodologies, and identification of potential funding sources to support future large-scale research programs. This resulted in the draft design of three research projects, finalized during a second meeting in Maastricht, the Netherlands, 27 to 31 August 2018. DISCUSSION: These intensive meetings identified the need for both cultural change in music education settings as well as improved health literacy in musicians across global geographical regions. A global project to address health literacy and health education accessibility for musicians has commenced.


Towards a model for musicians’ occupational health education at tertiary level in SA (In Muziki: Journal of Music Research in Africa)


The high statistics of musicians’ performance-related pain and injury are well documented. Research shows that tertiary level musicians’ occupational health education is imperative, and internationally more and more institutions are proactively incorporating innovative preventative educational programmes as part of their coursework. However, there are no courses in musicians’ health offered in any of the music departments of South African universities. In this article we will explore a model towards musicians’ occupational health education, based on the research done by Judy Palac, a specialist in performing arts medicine education. Her collaborative and interdependent model for a musicians’ health intervention has three components: health professionals diagnose and treat musicians with music-related physical or psychological disorders; music teachers provide pedagogy that is founded on sound musical, psychological and bio-mechanical principles; movement and somatic specialists provide knowledge of the body in music making. Our aim is to demonstrate how this framework is applicable in South Africa. Brief recommendations for possible implementation strategies in the South African context are made.

Muziki:  Journal of music research in Africa.  Taylor & Francis Online
Full text article:  Towards a model for musicians occupational health education at tertiary level in South Africa

Conference Papers, Presentations and Guest Lectures


A model for tertiary level musicians’ occupational health education in South Africa
National Performing Arts Health Symposium, 2 – 3 October 2017, UNISA, Pretoria, SA.


Towards a model for musicians’ occupational health education at tertiary level in South Africa
35th Annual PAMA (Performing Arts Medicine Association) International Symposium: “No Gain with Pain: Preventing and Overcoming Physical and Emotional Pain in Performing Artists”, 29 June – 2 July 2017, Snowmass, Colorado, USA


A collaborative model for musicians’ occupational health education, with particular emphasis on the role of Body Mapping in the somatic education component
Andover Educators’ 8th Biennial International Conference: “The Empowered Musician: Redefining and Embodying True Success”, 24-29 June 2017, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, USA


Masterclasses: Odeion School of Music
University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 27 February 2017


Breathe with Ease: Movements and structures of breathing and support
South African Tuba and Euphonium Association Course, 2 Dec 2016, Cape Town


Optimal Alignment: Teaching effective, balanced posture and tension-free body awareness for all musicians; Breathe with Ease: Body Mapping for Musicians, Movements and structures of breathing and support
Allmusic Music Teachers’ Professional Development Workshop, 21-22 Oct 2016, Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, Parow


Lecturer: Winter Course in Historically Informed Performance
University of Cape Town, South African College of Music, 13 June – 8 July


Musicians’ Health: Background, Research and Education; The Structures and Movements of Breathing; The Mind-Body Link; Optimal Alignment; Productive Practising; Performing Confidence Tools
Crescendo Summer Institute South Africa (CSISA), 28 March – 2 April 2016, Somerset West


Student musicians’ experiences of an occupational health course based on the Body Mapping approach
‘Music students’ experiences, perceptions and understandings of their well-being and musicianship, before, during and after an occupational health course based on the Body Mapping approach. Content includes: The students’ experiences of the physical-mental-artistic connections of music preparation and performance; how physical and psychological awareness link with musical aspects; injury prevention; and the integration of Body Mapping in musicians’ occupational health coursework at university level. The qualitative research methodology is Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). These are preliminary PhD research findings’.

  • Andover Educators Biennial International Conference, 18 – 21 June 2015, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Congress of the South African society for Research in Music (SASRIM), 16 – 18 July 2015, South African College of Music, University of Cape Town


Guest lecturer – Musicians’ Health: Somatic awareness for optimal performance and injury prevention
Rhodes University Music Department, Grahamstown

Funding and Support

Bridget is grateful for the funding she received to make her further training and research possible:

  • The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship
  • The University of Cape Town Emerging Researcher Programme Research Development Grant
  • The University of Cape Town University Research Committee Start-up Grant
  • The University of the Free State A-list Scholar’s Bursary
  • Cape Tercentenary Foundation grant