Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 648
Perception of Musical Tension in Cochlear Implant Listeners
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-09-20)
Despite the difficulties experienced by cochlear implant (CI) users in perceiving pitch and harmony, it is not uncommon to see CI users listening to music, or even playing an instrument. Listening to music is a complex process that relies not only on low-level percepts, such as pitch or timbre, but also on emotional reactions or the ability to perceive musical sequences as patterns of tension and release. CI users engaged in musical activities might experience some of these higher-level musical features. The goal of this study is to evaluate CI users' ability to perceive musical tension. Nine CI listeners (CIL) and nine normal-hearing listeners (NHL) were asked to rate musical tension on a continuous visual analog slider during music listening. The subjects listened to a 4 min recording of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 4 (K282) performed by an experienced pianist. In addition to the original piece, four modified versions were also tested to identify which features might influence the responses to the music in the two groups. In each version, one musical feature of the piece was altered: tone pitch, intensity, rhythm, or tempo. Surprisingly, CIL and NHL rated overall musical tension in a very similar way in the original piece. However, the results from the different modifications revealed that while NHL ratings were strongly affected by music with random pitch tones (but preserved intensity and timing information), CIL ratings were not. Rating judgments of both groups were similarly affected by modifications of rhythm and tempo. Our study indicates that CI users can understand higher-level musical aspects as indexed by musical tension ratings. The results suggest that although most CI users have difficulties perceiving pitch, additional music cues, such as tempo and dynamics might contribute positively to their experience of music.
Examining a Group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Intervention for Music Performance Anxiety in Student Vocalists
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-05-29)
Music performance anxiety (MPA) is a distressing and persistent anxious apprehension related to musical performance. The experience of MPA forces many musicians to give up performing or develop maladaptive coping mechanisms (e.g., avoidance or substance use), which can impact their career and wellbeing. High levels of MPA in students and vocalists are reported in the literature. Vocalists present a unique challenge for clinicians in that vocal and breathing mechanisms, required for performance, are negatively impacted when anxious. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has demonstrated efficacy for the treatment of a range of psychological problems including social anxiety disorder (of which MPA may be indicated as a subtype). This study sought to investigate whether group-based ACT may be a feasible and effective intervention for MPA in Australian student vocalists and aimed to design an intervention that could be adopted by music education providers. Potential participants (N = 31) completed an online survey including demographic questions and outcome measures. Six vocal students (four females; two males; aged M = 20.33 years) with elevated MPA scores participated in the ACT for MPA group program and 3- month follow-up. Group sessions were 2 h each week for six consecutive weeks. Participants were followed up 3 months post-intervention via online survey. There was a significant increase in psychological flexibility and significant decreases in MPA and psychological inflexibility. Gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. The current study offers preliminary evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of a group-based ACT protocol for musicians with performance anxiety which may be incorporated into tertiary performance training curricula
"It's Feasible to Write a Song": A Feasibility Study Examining Group Therapeutic Songwriting for People Living With Dementia and Their Family Caregivers
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-08-07)
Background: Psychosocial interventions for people with dementia and their family caregivers together may sustain relationship quality and social connection. No previous music therapy research has examined the effects of group therapeutic songwriting (TSW) attended by people with dementia/family caregiver dyads. Methods: This pre-post feasibility study aimed to examine the acceptability of a group TSW intervention for people with dementia/family caregiver dyads and test the sensitivity of the following outcomes: Quality of the Caregiver-Patient Relationship (QCPR, primary); Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) and Quality of Life-Alzheimer's Dementia for people with dementia, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Assessment of Quality of Life-8 Dimensions (AQoL-8D); and Zarit Burden Interview for family caregivers. Six weekly 1 h sessions guided participants to identify preferred music, brainstorm ideas, create lyrics, and record songs. Qualitative interviews were conducted with dyads who completed the intervention. Results: Fourteen dyads were recruited and completed baseline assessments. Participants with dementia were aged 62-92 years (M = 77, SD = 11). Caregiver participants (11 spouses, two daughters, one son) were aged 54-92 years (M = 67, SD = 10.1). Four dyads withdrew owing to declining health or inconvenience before the program commenced (n = 2) and after attending 1-2 sessions (n = 2). Ten dyads formed four homogeneous TSW groups (71% completion). No statistically significant changes were detected for any measure. High QCPR ratings at baseline (M = 57.1) and follow-up (M = 57.4) demonstrated sustained relationship quality. For participants with dementia, large effect sizes for the CSDD suggested trends toward decreased depression (d = -0.83) and improved mood (d = -0.88). For family caregivers, a large effect size suggested a trend toward improvement for the AQoL-8D sub-domain examining independent living (d = -0.93). Qualitative data indicated that session design and delivery were acceptable, and TSW was a positive shared experience with personal benefits, which supported rather than changed relationship quality. Conclusion: High retention and qualitative data indicate that TSW was well received by participants. Effect sizes suggest that group TSW for dyads may have beneficial impacts on depression for people with dementia and quality of life for family caregivers. Future research with a fully powered sample is recommended to further examine the psychosocial impacts of group TSW for people living with dementia/family caregiver dyads.
"Telling me not to worry..." Hyperscanning and Neural Dynamics of Emotion Processing During Guided Imagery and Music
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-07-25)
To analyze how emotions and imagery are shared, processed and recognized in Guided Imagery and Music, we measured the brain activity of an experienced therapist ("Guide") and client ("Traveler") with dual-EEG in a real therapy session about potential death of family members. Synchronously with the EEG, the session was video-taped and then micro-analyzed. Four raters identified therapeutically important moments of interest (MOI) and no-interest (MONI) which were transcribed and annotated. Several indices of emotion- and imagery-related processing were analyzed: frontal and parietal alpha asymmetry, frontal midline theta, and occipital alpha activity. Session ratings showed overlaps across all raters, confirming the importance of these MOIs, which showed different cortical activity in visual areas compared to resting-state. MOI 1 was a pivotal moment including an important imagery with a message of hope from a close family member, while in the second MOI the Traveler sent a message to an unborn baby. Generally, results seemed to indicate that the emotions of Traveler and Guide during important moments were not positive, pleasurably or relaxed when compared to resting-state, confirming both were dealing with negative emotions and anxiety that had to be contained in the interpersonal process. However, the temporal dynamics of emotion-related markers suggested shifts in emotional valence and intensity during these important, personally meaningful moments; for example, during receiving the message of hope, an increase of frontal alpha asymmetry was observed, reflecting increased positive emotional processing. EEG source localization during the message suggested a peak activation in left middle temporal gyrus. Interestingly, peaks in emotional markers in the Guide partly paralleled the Traveler's peaks; for example, during the Guide's strong feeling of mutuality in MOI 2, the time series of frontal alpha asymmetries showed a significant cross-correlation, indicating similar emotional processing in Traveler and Guide. Investigating the moment-to-moment interaction in music therapy showed how asymmetry peaks align with the situated cognition of Traveler and Guide along the emotional contour of the music, representing the highs and lows during the therapy process. Combining dual-EEG with detailed audiovisual and qualitative data seems to be a promising approach for further research into music therapy.
Ramped pulse shapes are more efficient for cochlear implant stimulation in an animal model
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-02-24)
In all commercial cochlear implant (CI) devices, the electric stimulation is performed with a rectangular pulse that generally has two phases of opposite polarity. To date, developing new stimulation strategies has relied on the efficacy of this shape. Here, we investigate the potential of a novel stimulation paradigm that uses biophysically-inspired electrical ramped pulses. Using electrically-evoked auditory brainstem response (eABR) recordings in mice, we found that less charge, but higher current level amplitude, is needed to evoke responses with ramped shapes that are similar in amplitude to responses obtained with rectangular shapes. The most charge-efficient pulse shape had a rising ramp over both phases, supporting findings from previous in vitro studies. This was also true for longer phase durations. Our study presents the first physiological data on CI-stimulation with ramped pulse shapes. By reducing charge consumption ramped pulses have the potential to produce more battery-efficient CIs and may open new perspectives for designing other efficient neural implants in the future.
Editorial: The State of the Art in Creative Arts Therapies
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020)
Creative Arts Therapies is an umbrella term for healthcare professions that use the creative and expressive process of art making to improve and enhance the psychological and social well-being of individuals of all ages and health conditions. Creative arts therapies use the relationship between the client and therapist and among clients in group or dyadic therapy in the context of the creative-expressive process as a dynamic and vital force for growth and change. The creative-expressive process engages physiological sensations, emotions, and cognition; facilitates verbal and non-verbal symbolization, narration, and expression of conscious or unconscious conflicts and meaning-making through internal and external dialogue and communication between oneself and others. The major objective of this Research Topic was to introduce, collect, discuss, and disseminate new clinical practices, scientific evidence, methodologies, theoretical concepts, and notions about Creative Arts Therapies. By publishing this open-access articles under this Research Topic we hope not only to distribute updated knowledge among the many clinicians in this field, but also to inform and convey the importance and significant therapeutic impact of this field, to scientists and clinicians from other psychological disciplines. Creative arts therapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, educational institutions, community mental health facilities, prisons, hospices, and private practices, and include a variety of Professional specializations. Contributors to this Research Topic included experts in dance-movement therapy (DMT), drama-therapy and psychodrama, film therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. The topics of their studies vary from theoretical concepts and underlying mechanisms through methodology and up to evidence-based clinical studies and their review or meta-analysis. In the following paragraphs we summarized the 36 different contributions to this Research Topic, based on their artistic modality.
Emotion Goals in Music Performance Anxiety
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020)
Performance anxiety can be debilitating, and so researchers and laypeople alike tend to assume that it is desirable to downregulate this emotion. Yet emerging perspectives in the emotion literature suggest that people sometimes aim to upregulate anxiety to aid performance. The present research investigated the emotion goals that musicians hold when performing. Drawing on a novel framework of emotion goals, the findings suggest that how people want to feel and how they want to appear to feel are determinants of performance anxiety. In Study 1 (N = 44), musicians mostly reported wanting to neither feel nor show anxiety during a performance, although a meaningful subset reported wanting to feel but not show anxiety during a performance. In Study 2 (N = 32), musicians who enacted an emotion goal to neither feel nor show anxiety reported less state unease and greater satisfaction with their performance than musicians who enacted a goal to feel but not show anxiety. This research yields insight into the emotion goals that musicians hold and how these goals influence desired performance outcomes.
The sound sensation of a pure tone in cochlear implant recipients with single-sided deafness
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-07-13)
Ten cochlear implant (CI) users with single-sided deafness were asked to vary the parameters of an acoustic sound played to their contralateral ear to characterize the perception evoked by a pure tone played through the direct audio input of their CI. Two frequencies, centered on an apical and a medial electrode, were tested. In six subjects, the electrode positions were estimated on CT scans. The study was divided in 3 experiments in which the parameters of the acoustic sound varied. The listeners had to vary the frequency …
Entering the live-streaming void and emerging victorious: teaching performance psychology under pressure
(Begell House, 2020)
In 2019, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music trialed a hybrid instruction method combining face-to-face teaching with simultaneous live-stream broadcast across two campuses in an undergraduate performance psychology subject. This method was fraught with technical difficulties. Yet, despite substantial instructor distress and concerns of compromised learning outcomes, students demonstrated remarkable patience, gratitude, and improvements in performance anxiety, energy regulation, focus, and resilience. This is a narrative inquiry into my experience navigating the live-streaming approach filtered through community of inquiry and self-determination theory frameworks. I reflect that within a university setting, both the teaching and technical operations staff members require generous lead time prior to the implementation of new technology to build competence and autonomy in managing unpredictable surprise factors. When this is accomplished, blended instruction can enable the staff to teach comfortably and spontaneously, providing students with unique and enriched learning experiences with access to local, national, and international experts.
Processes and Experiences of Creative Cognition in Seven Western Classical Composers
(SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2020-08-08)
<jats:p> In a qualitative study, we explored the range of reflections and experiences involved in the composition of score-based music by administering a 15-item, open-ended, questionnaire to seven professional composers from Europe and North America. Adopting a grounded theory approach, we organized six different codes emerging from our data into two higher-order categories ( the act of composing and establishing relationships). Our content analysis, inspired by the theoretical resources of 4E cognitive science, points to three overlapping characteristics of creative cognition in music composition: it is largely exploratory, it is grounded in bodily experience, and it emerges from the recursive dialogue of agents and their environment. More generally, such preliminary findings suggest that musical creativity may be advantageously understood as a process of constant adaptation – one in which composers enact their musical styles and identities by exploring novel interactivities hidden in their contingent and historical milieux. </jats:p>
Student Vitality, Teacher Engagement, and Rapport in Studio Music Instruction
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-05-21)
Vitality is the feeling of being alive, vigorous, and energetic, and is an important indicator of overall motivation and wellbeing. Studio music instruction holds rich potential for creating feelings of vitality through close relationships, the potential for developing skills, and a shared endeavor of artistic expression. But they also have the potential to deplete vitality - through controlling teaching, a poor quality relationship, or harsh criticism from the teacher. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships among student and teacher behavior, rapport, and students' experiences of subjective vitality in the context of university-level applied performance lessons. Participants were six undergraduate instrumental music majors and their teachers located at universities in the United States and Australia, who were selected because they provided the highest (three participants) and lowest (three participants) scores on a measure of subjective vitality completed immediately following a studio music lesson. A lesson was recorded for each student-teacher participant pair, coded for the frequencies of 35 lesson behaviors, described with a qualitative contextual commentary, and rated for evidence of rapport and physical proximity. Clear differences emerged between the high and low vitality lessons with regard to questioning, feedback, modeling, student performance, and student talk. Teachers of high vitality students spent most or all of the lesson within close proximity to their student, and showed stronger rapport than teachers of low vitality students. The findings suggest that students' vitality may depend on important differences in styles of teacher-student engagement and the quality of student-teacher relationships.
Conservatory Musicians' Temporal Organization and Self-Regulation Processes in Preparing for a Music Exam
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020)
Performing at the very highest levels requires rigorous preparation before the important performance. Musicians and especially music students encounter many challenges when preparing themselves for an important musical performance. This study sought to identify and analyze the context-specific temporal organization and self-regulation efforts that music students employ during their preparation period. Conservatory musicians were recruited from an Australian University Conservatorium. Thirteen conservatory musicians aged between 19 and 21 years (M = 19.6; SD = 0.76) participated in the study. All musicians, through an elicitation interview, were asked to recall and reconstruct their preparation period, leading up to a performance exam. Elicitation interviews provided access to music students' experiences by describing their general preparation. The results showed that conservatory musicians go through different phases (Phase 1: Choosing a piece; Phase 2: Piece discovery; Phase 3: Piece interpretation; Phase 4: Performance preparation). Self-regulatory efforts to prepare for a music performance exam vary from one musician to another. Organizational and disorganizational competencies, specific self-regulatory skills, seem not to be exploited by conservatory musicians. Also, during their preparation, most music students prefer technical and musical work than challenges such as playing in front of the public. Emotionally, conservatory musicians go through pleasant and unpleasant emotions depending on the phase of their preparation. Our results show that music students could benefit from advice on how to organize their preparation period well before an important performance takes place. Implications for conservatory musicians and teachers are discussed.