Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music and Dance


Edward C. Harris


burnout, college, education, music, stress, student

Subject Areas

Music Education


Burnout is fatigue and diminished interest caused by long-term stress. It is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. In the university music atmosphere, stress and burnout are prevalent and accepted as part of the culture. Symptoms and causes of general stress and burnout have been well researched, but much less has been presented on college musicians' burnout, let alone how to deal with it. This study examines the sources of stress, burnout, and ways of coping for undergraduate music students.

A questionnaire with both quantitative and open-ended questions was administered during the 2009 spring semester. Participants were undergraduate music majors attending a large urban university. The qualitative section revealed that the majority of survey participants attributed a high level of stress to their general undergraduate studies and to their music studies in particular. The mechanism rated most effective for alleviating stress was sleep, followed by spending time with family and friends, breathing exercises, exercise and eating well, meditation, and lastly, medical attention. The open-ended section revealed many music students were overburdened with schoolwork and music commitments. Many expressed that they had no time for things they enjoyed and had a need to learn better time management. Students also listed coping mechanisms not listed in the quantitative section.