Name: Kensley Behel
Credentials: B.M., M.M., Ph.D.
What Do I Do? Make musicians' health research easy to understand.
Fun Fact: I’m also a gymnastics journalist!
Download My CV: Click Here!
MUSICIANS’ HEALTH RESEARCHER.
Did you know that 85 % of musicians experience pain while playing their instrument? I was one of them and stats tell me that you, or someone you know, have too.
As an undergrad clarinetist, I developed a nasal air leak called Stress Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (an obnoxiously long group of words that mean my soft palate/mouth did not work properly). My teachers were supportive but they did not know how to help me. So, for two years, I bounced from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong.
Sound familiar? That’s where I come in!
You shouldn’t have to spend two years looking for a diagnosis.
You shouldn’t have to feel unprepared when you have a student come to you with pain.
You don’t have to be the teacher who tells their students that they just need to use their breath better when they have an actual hole in their soft palate (yes, that really did happen to me).
You don’t have to be the university that posts a pdf to meet a mandate.
I got the Ph.D. in Performing Arts Health so you don’t have to.
(unless that is your absolute passion, then let’s talk! And BTW, I’ve got a musicians’ health fundamentals course just for you!)
I’ve helped universities meet their NASM mandates.
I’ve helped educators feel confident and supported.
And, I can help you too!
The biggest barrier for musicians trying to access new
injury prevention tools is the academic jargon.
But I believe in research made simple.
Want to know more? Kick up your feet because it is a journey!!!
You see me there on that stage? I was 18. It was my solo debut. And I was sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to be a full-time professional clarinetist. That is until air started leaking out my nose while playing the clarinet (talk about embarrassing). Two years later, I had surgery… and I came out with a British accent. Yup, you read that right. Speech therapy, a B.M. in Clarinet performance from FSU, and a publication later, I was hooked on musicians’ health problems. But I wanted to give this clarinet thing one last go.
I began my M.M. at the University of Michigan in 2013. During that time, I experienced numbness issues while playing the clarinet. I had some extra time on my hands while I couldn’t practice so I looked for a job and found one with the Michigan men’s gymnastics team. They offered me a job running the floor at their meets. Never had I ever been on a gymnastics competition floor, but sure… I could run one. As chance would have it, I understood the role immediately and have since run the floor at NCAA Championships and B1G Championships.
During my time with the men’s gymnastics team, I saw the care they got. Physical therapy, counseling, athletic training, taping, and so much more. And men’s gymnastics loses money for each university. Meanwhile, the students in the College of Music got nothing even though they were providing full-on opera and musical theatre productions for profit. I knew something needed to change in the musical community.
In 2018, I enrolled in the performing arts health program at UNT wanting to learn more about musicians' health problems. In 2019, I published and presented with the National Institute of Health and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The same year, I also earned credentials in performing arts health from the Performing Arts Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. I graduated with my Ph.D. in August of 2022 and defended my dissertation on burnout among pastoral musicians in April 2022. I now use my own personal experiences and my degrees to create better access to health topics related to the performing arts.
The fun fact to come out of all of this is that my musical injuries led me to a secondary career in gymnastics journalism. I now serve as one of the foremost experts in men’s gymnastics in the world having covered the sport in Scotland, Germany, Canada, England and Japan.
While my injury changed the course of my life to researcher and journalist. You shouldn’t have to change your profession due to your injury if you don’t want to!