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Research project: Burnout in VI Music professionals and volunteers

Hi all, I am undertaking a small scale research project, looking at the effects of burnout in visually impaired musicians/professionals and volunteers. As part of this research, I have created a survey together some primary research and data. I am hoping to:

  • Establish the rate of burnout in VI musicians so I can compare with existing research.
  • Understand the physical experiences of burnout.
  • Understand how people cope with burnout.

Further information is at the end of this post, but I would appreciate if you could spare a few minutes to fill out my questionnaire by 4th Jun 2024. It should take no longer than 10 minutes. Here is the link:

Please feel free to share with any VI people that you know that engage in the music industry.

I look forward to evaluating the responses and thank you in advance!

Any enquiries or concerns, please email me.

Further information

I enjoy singing for wellbeing and this led me to pursue a music degree, specialising in vocals. I also have a strong interest in supporting people to live healthy and fulfilling lives, hence my role as a mentor of young people at Look UK. I am passionate about music and hope to build a career working as a professional engaging with the music industry to promote fair and equal access to VI musicians and my involvement with Sound Without Sight as an intern allows me to do this. This role allows me to build on my knowledge gained at university, while building my experience in a professional environment, engaging with the music industry. 

In addition to this, I am training to become a qualified counsellor/psychotherapist, as I hope to work as a mental health practitioner, with the intent to work as a private therapist, offering professional support to people experiencing anxiety and other mental health complications.

Currently, I am interested in exploring the effects of burnout and how it impacts on people with a visual impairment as current research indicates that VI people are more likely to experience burnout more than their sighted peers. Similarly, research undertaken by the Musicians’ Union suggests that musicians are at higher risk of experiencing burnout due to the nature of working freelance and other additional factors. In this research project, I hope to explore the link between burnout and the challenges experienced by VI music professionals. It is my hope that this project will combine my passion for music and wish to learn more about what can be done to support visually impaired musicians experiencing burnout.

In 2016, Help Musicians noticed an increase in musicians seeking mental health support. Their research showed that 7 in 10 musicians struggled with social anxiety and had suffered panic attacks, while just over two-thirds had experienced depression – three times more than the general population. More than half of the research respondents said that they had found it difficult to get help, suggesting musicians and mental illness was a serious problem. Record union produced similar results in 2019 when a study of independent musicians concluded that 73% struggled with mental health issues. More recently, the Musicians’ Union, indicated that research shows that 80% of musicians have struggled with their mental health and the incidents of burnout is high. This research suggests that professionals experience burnout as a result of financial worries, the need for external validation, the unpredictable nature of working freelance, working long hours and being unable to create a routine.

Mental Health UK asserts that causes of burnout include, working arrangements, job security, isolation, physical well-being and sleep. Statistical evidence indicates that these factors also significantly impact the visually impaired populous, with only 27% of registered blind and partially sighted people in employment and significant delays in support for accessible work arrangements. Isolation can also affect visually impaired people due to the difficulties that VI presents, leading to an increased risk of depression, possibly affecting physical well-being. It is also reported that 8/10 blind people struggle with a sleep disorder, although this research does not extend to partially sighted individuals with some functional vision.

The available research on burnout in musicians, and visually impaired people has led to the current hypothesis, which is – visually impaired music industry professionals are at significant risk of experiencing burnout due to the crossover of factors that visual impairment and working in the music industry presents.

I will use secondary research to form the basis of my primary research, consisting of a questionnaire and semi structured interviews. The questionnaire will help to collect quantitive and qualitative data as the questions will include likret scales to help provide statistics. There will also be options to expand on answers given and the opportunity to submit contact details to take part in a semi structured interview. These interviews will allow participants to expand on the answers given in the questionnaire. A strong focus of this research will be based on the lived experiences of the participants. As discussing burnout may lead to the disclosure of sensitive information, participants may withdraw at any time. All interviews will be recorded for research purposes and will be kept in accordance with  GDPR regulations. Links to existing support services will be provided in the questionnaire and  At the end of the interview for participants to access at their discretion. Participation is voluntary at all stages of this research.

The results of the questionnaire and interviews will culminate in a final report which will outline current research on burnout in music professionals, burnout in visually impaired professionals and the lived experiences of visually impaired music professionals. It will also be solution focused and will include suggestions on how we can provide more adequate  support for visually impaired music industry professionals dealing with the effects of burnout.

This project is to help inform my own personal professional development. I intend to use the results of this project to gain clarity on what is needed to support the well-being of VI musicians and other professionals. This will form the foundation for any projects that I may wish to develop in the future. It may possibly influence how I choose to pursue my career aspirations and intrinsic goals.

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