Malmö Academy of Music is one of few academies in the world that apply psychological science and research to musical education. Our Performance Centre gives master’s students the opportunity to develop their artistic practice based on music and sports psychology.
The Performance Centre introduces psychological methods that exist within performance, music psychology and sports psychology to students at the Artistic master's programmes in music.
The centre organises seminars, workshops, and labs where students are welcome to develop their musical performance. It is also a meeting place for music and psychology students and serves as a platform where they can exchange experiences and knowledge. Students are also encouraged to carry out their degree projects together.
A central part of the Performance Centre is a course called The Performing Human Being. It aims to provide psychological knowledge about how we function on stage and as artists. The course includes lectures, seminars and group work on learning, memorisation as well as mental, cognitive, and psychological processes. It is based on active participation and students are encouraged to raise specific problems and situations as well as share personal reflections and inputs. Students are also encouraged to bring their instruments.
I had my exam concert last week and I wanted to let you know that the second session was particularly useful. I applied some of the aspects that we talked about, such as making eye contact with the audience and I did not focus so much on the technical aspects, but on the musical aspects and what I wanted to convey to the audience. I felt better about myself and generally I was happy with how I played.
I am very pleased with how I performed in the ‘beting’. I was able to express musical ideas and not just survive the situation. In the beginning I was shaky, but I knew it would pass so I didn't fixate on it. I think talking about tremors has relaxed my attitude towards it happening, which releases some of the physical tension. A positive cycle! It's still not completely out of the picture, the fear of uncontrollable shaking is still there, but I definitely feel like I'm going in the right direction. I found the positive feedback you and Simon gave me really encouraging. I also found the strategy of planning, what to think about while performing, very useful.
Overall, this course provided me with structure to frame my own process with performance anxiety. There was a lot of space to think and ask questions.
I am very grateful!
It is important for us young musicians to talk about and discuss how we feel before / during and after a performance. This is something that is not often addressed in the individual instrument lessons. But in order to make what we learn in our instrument classes work in performance at all, we should develop strategies to cope with the mental pressure and to curb (or perhaps rather accept) the bodily "changes" that occur in connection with a performance.
I think the course gave me tools to develop these strategies, but perhaps more importantly, it gave me perspective, I am not alone in having major problems before, during and after a performance. It has felt good to discuss this with my classmates.
During an individual session with Francisca Skoogh and Simon Granér, I got to discuss my thoughts about my performance and my performance on stage and how I look at my own performance both during the performance itself but also afterwards. What I took with me from that "masterclass" was to challenge my habitual behaviors before a performance, to accept that I'm not that good at evaluating myself and understand how I can get better at evaluating "fairly".
I think that more discussion is needed on the subject of "performance psychology" at Malmö Academy of Music, at least it is something I want to continue to discuss and learn.
I participated in the course because I had had bad experiences in audition situations. Many times in different audition situations or in masterclasses I became very nervous, my thoughts were very negative towards myself, my hands started to shake and it became almost impossible to continue playing. My biggest problem was my thoughts about having a bad finger technique.
During the first year I learnt many important facts about performance anxiety that helped me understand why I became so nervous and why my thoughts affected my performance so much. It was important to learn psychologically why my shaky hands appeared and why I thought I was so bad at playing specific parts (self-efficacy). I also learnt that it is possible to train this skill, become better at it and there are many ways of getting there. Thank you for the course! This has been a very important step towards becoming a happier musician.
Pianist and Senior lecturer
Psychologist and PhD in Artistic Research
francisca [dot] skoogh [at] mhm [dot] lu [dot] se
In the press
- Getting the butterflies to fly in formation – on the art of managing performance anxiety 220120
- P2 Dokumentär: Scenskräck 200606
- P2 Dokumentär: Kvinnliga dirigenter 200124
- Intervju, Universitetsläraren 191118
- Tollans musikaliska (pod) 180925
- The Psychology of Sports and Music – Understanding Human Performance, with Assoc Prof. Simon Granér 221209