On Monday, one of the pianists scheduled to compete in the Van Cliburn Piano competition had to withdraw from the competition because of a hand injury.
Right now, students at the University of North Texas are researching what causes these piano-related injuries, and they are doing it with the help of cutting edge technology.
31-year-old Anastasia Markina has played the piano since she was four. The Russian-born Doctoral candidate at UNT remembers her early lessons.
"My teacher was always pushing me to be the best. That's the whole point of Russian training; you don't stop. You just keep going through pain."
Markina will play with numbing arm pain. On bad days, the sensation extends to her neck and back.
UNT researcher Eri Yoshimura says Markina is not alone. Yoshimura, an accomplished piano player herself, describes the sensations. "Like burning, or pins and needles numbness."
As part of her Doctoral thesis, Yoshimura is researching piano-related injuries at the University of North Texas.
She uses motion cameras and sensors to capture a piano player's movement.
The result is computer animation that measures the speed, force and velocity of each key-stroke.
Yoshimura's research shows the pain is not caused by the amount of time spent on the piano, but rather the size of the player's hands in relation to the key board.
"For small-handed pianists, the small keyboard helps to reduce pain and tension while they play," says Yoshimura.
Kris Chesky, UNT Music and Medicine Research Director, says piano-related pain is only a fraction of the injuries seen in the music industry. The most common is hearing loss, but there are many more.
"Like clarinet, it's high in the right wrist. The flute, high in the right hand. Trumpet players, brass players, have certain types of pains in their neck or in their face."
Anastasia Markina hopes this research will help others understand the health risks of a centuries old art.
Eri Yoshimura and research director Kris Chesky hope their data will lead to changes in the music industry, such as using smaller keyboards.