MMW Is Maximising Performance Potential At ISPS2013


Thanks to the generous support of research funding from The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of VCA and MCM, MMW Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Margaret Osborne has presented at the International Symposium on Performance Science today at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. At this conference, international research leaders in performance science have presented on issues relating to performing artist’s health, education, motor learning, memorization, acoustic perception, and performance behaviours.


A summary of the study is given below. This study is one of a number of studies Margaret has undertaken in 2012-13 which together form a program of research entitled  “Maximising Performance Potential”.  Margaret’s main objective in this research program is to determine whether performance psychology skills training implemented within secondary and tertiary learning environments and performance teaching, will lead to significant, ongoing positive outcomes for musicians and other performing artists in terms of reduced performance anxiety, and improved confidence, resilience and buoyancy in performance as measured though motivation and engagement constructs. Initial evidence, as demonstrated in this ISPS 2013 paper, show this to be the case. Margaret aims to identify the efficacy and key drivers of positive change in performance anxiety, confidence and resilience.


Further information on the ISPS2013 conference containing the latest performance science research in music, dance and theatre can be found here.

A summary of the study is given below. Further details are contained in the published conference paper within the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2013, edited by Aaron Williamon and Werner Goebl, published by the European Association of Conservatoires (AEC), Brussels, Belgium. ISBN 9782960137804 here.


Maximising performance potential:

The efficacy of a performance psychology program to reduce music performance anxiety and build resilience in adolescents

Margaret S Osborne

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Music performance anxiety (MPA) can be distressing for many young people studying music, and may negatively impact their ability to cope with the demands and stressors of music education. This is a randomized wait-list control study of a performance psychology program to reduce MPA and promote resilience delivered to adolescents in a school environment. Fifty-five students (12-16 years of age) randomly allocated to two groups participated in an eight week program covering concepts of peak performance, personal strengths, planning and goal setting, motivation, positive self-talk, relaxation and visualisation, stress regulation, and recovery after disappointments or setbacks. Assessments immediately pre- and post-program, and at two month follow-up showed a significant reduction in self-reported MPA that continued to decline two months after participating in the program, accompanied by improved self-belief, planning, persistence, and control over successful outcomes, as well as reduced failure avoidance, self-sabotage and disengagement. This study demonstrates the efficacy of these psychological techniques to reduce performance anxiety and improve motivation, engagement and resilience in adolescent music students.

Keywords: Music performance anxiety; adolescents; performance psychology; resilience; school.