April 2016 MTNA e-Journal

The Pedagogical Value Of “Enjoyment” In The Classical Piano Studio—A Research Report On A Transdisciplinary Study
By William Westney, Cynthia M. Grund, James Yang, Aimee Cloutier, Jesse Latimer, Michael O’Boyle, Dan Fang and Jiancheng Hou

An experiment was conducted in which four pianists prepared and memorized (independently) the same two brief classical selections, one by Grieg and one by Hummel. They reported individually to a motion-capture laboratory (passive optical camera system), where 46 reflective markers were affixed to the landmarks of their bodies so that three-dimensional location profile recordings could be created. At that time they were asked to perform each of the two pieces in two different performance modes: “enjoyment” and “correct.” These two terms had not been mentioned to them until that moment. The resulting motion-capture data was analyzed to see if these two different modes, or mindsets, would engender distinct and comprehensive neuromuscular responses in the players. Such differences in responses were indeed observed. In a follow-up study, eight individuals (four trained musicians, four non-musicians) were placed in an fMRI scanner so that their brains could be monitored while they viewed the aforementioned motion-capture audio/videos. In addition, these eight subjects answered a battery of questions gauging their aesthetic responses to the two performance “modes,” without being told anything about the experimental hypothesis. All results were analyzed for identifiable patterns of response. Preliminary findings indicate that trained musicians are quick to discern positive qualities in, and to empathize with, the “enjoyment mode” performances. The brains of the trained musicians also showed heightened response and different patterns of activation than those of non-musicians. Read More.


Movement And Wellness Training For Musicians: A Case Study Report
By Paola Savvidou, NCTM, and Haley Myers

The purpose of this case study was to explore whether somatic education affects university-level classical musicians in terms of their kinesthetic awareness and whether they value movement and wellness training as part of their musical education. The study was conducted in conjunction with a new course at a large public university in the Midwest entitled “Movement and Wellness for Musicians,” which surveyed various somatic techniques over the course of a sixteen-week semester. Three students participated in the study. Materials analyzed included written reflections and transcribed interviews with the participants and their applied instructors. Results showed that through the course, participants increased their kinesthetic awareness and focus, found relief of tension, and gained deeper understanding of movement in practice and performance. All participants expressed a belief that wellness education is a crucial component of maintaining a long-lasting career in the arts. In addition, results suggest a lack of common terminology that students and applied instructors may draw from when discussing and exploring new techniques in lessons. These findings suggest that it may be beneficial to introduce classes on somatic training into university-level music education. Read More.