Title page for ETD etd-03312006-164516

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Oyan, Sheri
Author's Email Address soyan1@lsu.edu
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
  • performance anxiety
Date of Defense 2006-03-27
Availability unrestricted
Musicians 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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