The Instrumental Allergy Solutions Project
What is it?
Individuals can be allergic to many different components that are found in the musical world, including, but not limited to: metal, wood, finishes, and lubricants. Our research aims to make musical instruments more accessible to those with allergies.
What prompted the project?
After Grace Demerath was diagnosed with metal contact dermatitis, being allergic to every metal except for platinum and titanium, she had to seek out alternative equipment and adaptive techniques in order to keep playing the French horn. Now a music teacher herself, Demerath has also learned how to adapt every band and orchestra instrument so that she can play it. With a little creativity, every instrument can be adapted for students with all sorts of allergies. Demerath, along with Erika St. Denis, are now working to make information about alternative equipment and adaptive techniques available to musicians everywhere.
Why make a project of it?
With a contact dermatitis diagnosis, some students may think that there is no way that they can safely participate in band or orchestra. Students and their teachers need to be aware that there are economical solutions that can help them continue on in their musical careers. Individuals who develop an allergy later in their career will also find that they can adapt their instrument in simple ways so that they can still continue to play. We want this information to be accessible to musicians everywhere so that they can continue making music.
What have we accomplished so far?
- Demerath, G., & St. Denis, E. (2014). “So you are allergic to your instrument?” New Jersey Music Educators Association [conference]. New Brunswick, NJ. 21 Feb. 2014.
- Demerath, G., & St. Denis, E. (2013). “Metal contact dermatitis in the instrumental and general music classrooms: Removing dermatological barriers.” James J. Whalen Academic Symposium [conference]. Ithaca, NY. 4 Apr. 2013.
- Independent Study - Metal contact dermatitis in the instrumental and general music classrooms: Removing Dermatological barriers (Spring, 2013), Dr. Susan Avery of Ithaca College - Supervisor
Getting the word out. We have a few goals we'd like to accomplish in the near future:
- Write up our findings and seek publication in a respected and peer-reviewed music education journal.
- Create tutorial videos on how to adapt instruments for students with contact dermatitis
- Investigate ways of incorporating this research into teacher preparation courses in instrument methods classes.
- Continue to present at state music education conferences.
- Expand alternative equipment lists.