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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mental skills training for a lower-advanced to advanced pianist
by Jordan-Miller, Rebekah, D.M.A., The University of Oklahoma, 2010, 153; 3403720
Abstract (Summary)

Considerable literature exists concerning the development of psychological skills in athletes and the impact of those skills on the attainment of maximal levels of performance. In the field of music, no literature is available that outlines a practice curriculum that trains a pianist’s psychological skills such as confidence and trust during performance. With the absence of both research and application of deliberate practice techniques in musical instrument practice, the author was prompted to design a mental skills training program for pianists to practice healthy psychological performance skills. The goal of this mental skills training program is to promote a stronger, more focused, and fulfilling performance experience for the pianist.

The literature review includes deliberate practice instruction and psychological skill acquisition within a variety of fields, with primary focus on the area of athletics. Components of mental skills training programs with proven effectiveness in athletics are identified and adapted for the curriculum created here for lower-advanced and advanced pianists in practice and performance situations.

A twelve-week mental skills training program was developed for the lower-advanced to advanced pianist and is provided as chapter III to assist the pianist in developing and maintaining psychological skills that will facilitate effective practice and optimal piano performance. This mental skills training program includes strategies to assist the performer in developing positive expectations, full concentration, clear focus on the task at hand, and a stronger sense of confidence. Additionally, strategies used effectively by athletes, are adapted for the pianist to enhance the musician’s ability to deal with distractions, cope with stress, and view negative events in a positive way. Several exercises and activities are given to enable the pianist to learn and practice these strategies. A synopsis of the training program is provided in the beginning of chapter IV and the sequential order of the journal activities is outlined in the concluding appendix.

While various programs exist for musicians and others to develop specific mental skills, through meditation techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization skills, training programs that systematically and deliberately focus on the development of psychological performance skills are currently lacking. The mental skills training program included in this document aims to fill this void by providing a curriculum to teach and practice psychological performance skills within a deliberate practice format.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Magrath, Jane
Commitee: Fast, Barbara, Gates, Edward, Gilman, Patricia, Moore, Bill, Stephenson, Ken
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: School of Music
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Pedagogy, Performing Arts, Music education
Keywords: Mental skills, Performance psychology, Pianist, Training program
Publication Number: 3403720
ISBN: 978-1-109-77435-1
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