Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Research Publications

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    Ethical considerations for sustainable music training using VR technology: a case study of performance anxiety.
    Osborne, M ; Glasser, S ; Loveridge, B ( 2022-04-08)
    Presentation given at the 2022 Teaching Music Online in Higher Education (TMOHE) and Music, Education and Technology (MET) online international conference. INTRODUCTION Simulation training is used to develop performance skills in various disciplines, particularly where in-situ training is either impossible or unsafe to implement (Renganayagalu et al., 2021). Such training enables learners to acclimatise to real-life stressors and anxiety-inducing scenarios in a physically and/or psychologically safe environments, to protect against performance decrements which reveal themselves in high pressure contexts rather than low-stress practice sessions. BACKGROUND Recent work using immersive virtual reality (VR) provides preliminary evidence of the capacity of this technology to evoke music performance anxiety (Fadeev et al., 2020; Fanger et al., 2020). In this study, we explore the capacity of VR to assist music students to develop technical and psychological competence to perform at their best under pressure implemented within tertiary music institution settings. METHOD Richie’s Plank Experience (Toast VR, 2016) was used to approximate the physiological symptoms of high-stress performance in a single case pilot study with a highly trained violinist. Prior to exposure, a performance psychologist taught the participant a pre-performance routine with demonstrated utility in musicians (Osborne et al., 2014). The psychologist subsequently guided the participant remotely through the routine via Zoom, whilst the participant was immersed in the VR environment. Heart rate, subjective units of distress, and confidence measurements were taken across five levels of exposure which varied the integration of instrument and intervention. FINDINGS The plank task induced a notable stress response. Additionally, the musician was receptive to pre-performance routine instructions to downregulate their stress response. This created a performance focus when in the VR environment, demonstrated by decreased anxiety and increased confidence ratings across performance tasks. IMPLICATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS We provide preliminary evidence for the capacity of immersive VR to induce the situational stress required to trigger a cascade of physical and psychological responses. The benefits of this technology need to be considered alongside areas such as privacy, storage, access, and accessibility
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    International Symposium on Performance Science
    McPherson, G ; Mornell, A ; Osborne, M ; Williamon, A ; Jóhasson, P (Listaháháskóli íslands, 2017)
    Background An increasing body of research in both music and sports psychology indicates that repetitive, habitual, and mindless practice often leads to sub-optimal preparation and performance. In contrast, deliberate practice, intrinsic motiva-tion, and a growth mindset can optimise preparation for public performance. Still, the majority of musicians devote their time to blocks of physical practice and mistake-avoidance, as opposed to mental preparation, desirable difficul-ties, and strategies that strengthen self-efficacy and autonomy. Music teachers may want to steer their students away from mindless drill towards 21st century self-regulated learning strategies, yet both the scientific and pedagogical literature is lacking in alternatives supported by empirical research. Aims This exploratory study was designed to capture what musicians planned to practice, as well as what they actually did in the practice room. In order to separate behavior from thought and emotion, we designed a brief questionnaire (seven questions) to accompany a video recording made of a portion of a practice session. Participants were asked to report their intentions regarding practice focus and planning, then to appraise what they had experienced during practice, and, finally, to access the difficulty of applying this strategy and their motivation to use it in the future. Method Fourteen participants, faculty and students in music degree programs at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich, volunteered for this pilot study to test the effectiveness of the practice questionnaire. Each one completed questions both prior to and following the videotaping of an excerpt of a practice session of their choice. The first three questions (pre-recording) addressed the focus of the practice session, i.e. problem to be solved, the source, and choice of strategy. The last four questions (post-recording) allowed participants to self-rate the effectiveness, new-ness, ease of application, and usefulness of the strategy, as well as what they were doing, feeling, and thinking during the session. Two professional musicians evaluated the videos in terms of strategy applied and improvement over the session. Results Examinations of practice process were conducted, including specificity of goals, problem areas to be addressed (such as accuracy, musical expression), and planned strategies to address problems. Participant self-evaluations of strategy effectiveness were correlated with rater assessments taken from practice video footage. Strong positive relationships were found between: participant-rated strategy effectiveness and rater-assessed mindful deliberate practice (r=0.66, p=0.01) and degree of progress (r=0.59, p<0.05); as well as rater-assessed degree of progress and deliberate practice (r=0.95, p=0.001). Conclusions Breaking any cycle of less than optimal practice requires the adoption of new strategies that augment or replace old habits. To do this one must self-regulate, by identifying patterns in behavior that are based on habits, and then ac-tively working to modify these routines. This study provides preliminary evidence for the efficacy of a short protocol which encourages musicians to improve practice outcomes through self-regulated skills in practice planning and observation for proactive learning and enhanced performance.
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    The use of microanalysis as an innovative tool for improving musician’s self-regulated learning and practice efficiency
    McPherson, G ; Osborne, M ; Evans, P ; Miksza, P ; Williamon, A ; Jóhasson, P (Listaháhåskóli Íslands, 2017)
    Background This paper describes the development of a music practice microanalysis protocol that is based on the three phase model of self-regulated learning (i.e., Forethought, Performance and Self-Reflection). Up until now, most studies on music practice have tended to focus on behavioural aspects. The expanded view presented here outlines a technique that focuses on the types of behaviours (actions), cognition (thoughts), and affect (feelings) that can help focus musicians’ practice, and enable them to make improvements to the efficiency of their learning. Aims To develop a research and intervention tool reflecting the breadth of self-regulated learning strategies, and within-subject, moment-to-moment fluctuations in practice quality that determine the intensity and quality of practice within and across practice sessions. Method We conducted a two-stage research study: first, a baseline observational study; second, a practice intervention, involving seven first year Bachelor of Music students studying at a large University music school across two semesters as they prepare repertoire for their performance exams. Results The technique revealed students demonstrate broadly contrasting self-regulated learning profiles. It also informed an effective self-directed educational intervention to cue students to think about what they are doing and then reflect critically on the strategies they can use to improve their playing. Implications This flexible, working microanalytic protocol can inform educational interventions aimed at breaking the cycle of habits that typify musicians at this developmental stage, encouraging them to become more behaviourally, metacognitively, and emotionally involved in their own learning. This tool could be used to help musicians become more aware of their own practice efficiency, and an aid for teachers who wish to adopt the technique to improve their student’s learning.