Serap Bastepe-Gray

Alumna: Occupational Therapy (M.S.) ’15
Occupational Therapy Supervisor, TU Institute for Well-Being

Serap Bastepe-Gray
Bastepe-Gray instructs violinist Ashley Foss with biomechanical retraining techniques. 

Dr. Serap Bastepe-Gray, a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, left a rising medical career to become a classical guitarist. A triumphant battle with a hand injury during her undergraduate studies at the conservatory led to yet a third career: occupational therapist.

While the profession is not typically associated with workplace injuries, Bastepe-Gray says approximately three of four musicians suffer from playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMD). Yet evidence-based preventive programs for PRMD are scarce.

Serap Bastepe-Gray and Marlene Riley
Serap Bastepe-Gray and Marlene Riley develop light strength-training exercises for TU music students.

For the last three years, she has been developing such a program, SOUND WHHAVE, with Marlene Riley, clinical associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science. This program provides PRMD prevention support to Towson University’s music students and introduces the topic into the occupational therapy curriculum.

Bastepe-Gray also has presented workshops on injury prevention, management and rehabilitation for performing artists at guitar forums and music schools nationwide and consulted with individual musicians through in-person and online biomechanical retraining sessions.

Bastepe-Gray acknowledges her responsibility to teach the next generation of musicians what she knows. “We are now finding that the PRMD rates among amateur and professional musicians are at epidemic levels,” she explains, noting that TU is the one of only a few occupational therapy programs in the nation to include interventions for musicians’ health and wellness in the curriculum.

We are now finding that the playing-related musculoskeletal disorder rates among amateur and professional musicians are at epidemic levels. ”

Serap Bastepe-Gray

A pioneer in the field who has presented internationally on performance health and wellness in student musicians, Bastepe-Gray is now working with other institutions looking to Towson University to help them develop curriculum content for musicians’ health and wellness.

“We are hoping to develop an inter-institutional collaborative platform,” she says. “Given my occupational therapist training combined with my medical background and my own experience as a professionally trained musician, I bring a unique perspective to the field of musicians’ occupational health.”