Development of an Evidence-based Psychological Skills Training Program for Professional Music Performance

Pecen, Ellis (2019) Development of an Evidence-based Psychological Skills Training Program for Professional Music Performance. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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While the domains of music and sport performance share many convergences, important divergences exist that impact the transfer of training solutions from one domain to the other. In music, widely accessible and practical interventions are rare, yet overdue as the domain is rife with psychological, physical and systemic challenges for which appropriate support structures are not yet commonplace.
Accordingly, the unique contribution of this thesis lay in its examination of pertinent issues in music coupled with an exploration of applicable training solutions drawn from applied performance psychology.

The thesis has suggested moving beyond a focus on music performance anxiety and relaxation techniques, theory and intuitively appealing strategies used without a clear contextual rationale. Instead, its focus has been to draw from a variety of training solutions available in the performance psychology literature and contemplate their application within a professional music performance context. A key point of the thesis drew attention to the broader performance context in which strategies should be chosen and applied -or the ‘when to do what and why’ of performance psychology. For instance, the thesis considered the potentially mutually supportive, yet distinctive relationship between wellbeing and performance and how this distinction is relevant to the choice and application of performance strategies.

Original data suggested a need for training that applied a practical, positive, culturally-sensitive and comprehensive approach and that incorporated one- to-one and group sessions in which to practise utilising the learnt strategies and provide peer feedback. The thesis has used the insights drawn from the sport and performance psychology literature and combined this with original data in order to construct an exemplar program that meets its objective for practical performance impact.

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