Certificate Program in Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique

Salem College School of Music offers the US’s first approved professional Certificate Program in Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique.

Students interested in the graduate certificate program should apply by contacting the School of Music (see “Application” below). The program is for both men and women.

Studies show that between 50 and 75 percent of keyboardists in the United States are dealing with the effects of injuries related to their playing, and that female musicians are statistically twice as likely to develop playing-related injuries as male musicians.

The method taught in the new certificate program is the Lister-Sink Method, developed by Salem music professor Barbara Lister-Sink and outlined in her DVD Freeing the Caged Bird: Developing Well-Coordinated, Injury-Preventive Piano Technique. According to Lister-Sink, “This method is one of the only consistently successful methods developed in the late 20th century to convey effectively the biomechanical knowledge, sensations and coordinations necessary to prevent injury and to promote consistently good coordination and development of full artistic potential.”


  • To help prevent and eradicate playing-related injuries that contribute to widespread waste of talent and loss of careers
  • To help injured pianists and organists rehabilitate and retrain
  • To teach pedagogy of injury-preventive techniques
  • To help pianists and organists maximize their musical and artistic potential 

Target Population:

  • Piano and organ students between degrees (“Gap Year”)
  • Qualified BA & BM piano and organ majors
  • Professional teachers or performers desiring to enhance technique and teach injury-preventive technique
  • Injured keyboard students, teachers, and performers
  • Any keyboardist desiring to maximize artistic potential by removing physical obstacles

Instructional Delivery Methods:

  • On-site instruction will be used for all residential students. Students who do not live within commuting distance will take a hybrid form of the courses. They will be required to be on campus for a portion of the course delivery time. The remainder of instructional time will be in the Distance-Learning format, with participation in courses and applied lessons via webcam. Students will fulfill written assignments and exam requirements online. Performance and jury requirements may be completed via webcam or pre-recorded DVD performances. 


  1. Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique
  • How the body is constructed and how it works best and most efficiently
  • How the piano mechanism works
  • How the body and the piano work best, most efficiently together
  • How to apply core principles of good coordination from the simplest to the most complex movements

  2. Pedagogy of Injury-Preventive Technique

  • How to teach injury-preventive technique through the Lister-Sink Method to all levels

  3. Keyboardists’ Injuries-Causes & Cures

  • Study of injuries that afflict keyboardists
  • Mainstream medical and complementary approaches to healing
  • Partnering with a team of healthcare professionals 

  4. Alexander Technique

  • Principles of optimal, whole-body use in activity
  • Building foundational body awareness and control

  5. Applied Lessons & Performance

  • Applying injury-preventive technique to compelling music-making from simplest to most advanced repertory


Application for the graduate certificate is through the School of Music, (336) 721-2798. To discuss the program, contact Barbara Lister-Sink at (336) 749-5715 or barbara.lister-sink@salem.edu.


The Lister-Sink Foundation provides scholarships for those interested in enrolling in the Certificate Program.