Type of Document Dissertation Author Oyan, Sheri Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-03312006-164516 Title Mindfulness Meditation: Creative Musical Performance through Awareness Degree Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) Department Music Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Griffin M. Campbell Committee Chair Brian McWhorter Committee Member John H. Whittaker Committee Member William Ludwig Committee Member Dennis Landin Dean's Representative Keywords
- performance anxiety
Date of Defense 2006-03-27 Availability unrestricted AbstractMusicians spend countless hours practicing their instruments over the course of a
lifetime. These hours are primarily spent learning how to manipulate the instrument through
scale studies, etudes, and repertoire. However, despite intense and diligent effort, many
musicians find themselves unable to perform for an audience without some kind of interruption
in creativity in the form of mental and/or physical distractions. The symptoms of such
distractions can include heart palpitations, muscle tension, shaking, feelings of fear and panic,
and an inability to focus on the task at hand. The presence of these symptoms, typically referred
to as “performance anxiety,” is, to some extent, common among performers of all ability levels.
The literature on performance anxiety is extensive, and suggests a wide range of coping
strategies. Although many of these techniques are effective to some degree, they do not typically
address the problem of how to cope with anxiety during the performance, which is the key to
being creative and free of distractions in the performance. I think the practice of mindfulness
meditation can be effective in coping with performance anxiety, both on and off stage.
In its simplest form, mindfulness meditation can be practiced in everyday activities, such
as walking or washing the dishes. Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist monk and author of
several books on meditation, describes the practice of mindfulness as being aware of what one is
doing while doing it. By being more aware in all aspects of our lives, we can better deal with
both the physical and mental distractions that occur onstage. Though musicians recognize
performance anxiety as something that happens during performance, the anxiety (and how one
deals with it) is not limited to just the performance, but is linked to everything else in one’s life.
The practice of mindfulness may be one way of learning to feel and accept what is happening in
the present moment, and ultimately we may be able to apply that attitude to performance.
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