Preparing music students for a public recital:

Applying principles of practice from sport sciences and other disciplines

Frank Bakker (speaker), Conservatorium van Amsterdam; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Raôul Oudejans (speaker), Hogeschool van Amsterdam; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Valle Gonzalez Martin, oboe, Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Session introduction
Several principles of musical learning and practice are based on research in other domains than music, like sports, dance, and even in the work of police officers and fire fighters. These principles are potentially valuable for music practice. In this session we focus on how these principles can be applied in music practice of students of an elite-level music academy, and on the value of this utilization.

We have developed the so-called Study Lab and explored principles of practice in two groups of students from the Conservatorium of Amsterdam, in 2015 and 2016. Participating students (six in each year) were offered several alternatives for their usual practice routines. In 10-14 days they prepared for a challenging recital of approximately thirty minutes, using methods borrowed partially from sport sciences and sport psychology. Specifically they were encouraged to:
- Apply principles of deliberate practice, particularly to practice purposefully and reflectively
- Apply a schedule of 20 minutes of fully focused practice, followed by a break of 5 minutes (20 + 5 schedule or Klickstein schedule)
- Practice with an external, rather than internal focus of attention
- Apply principles of differential learning
- Use mental imager
- Not only focus on mastering the music technically and musically, but also on performing in front of an audience; this meant that:
- Students were exposed to the pressure of a concert appearance by performing two try-outs. The experiences of the students were monitored using logbooks, interviews and questionnaires, and their main teachers assessed their recitals (only in 2016).

In this session we will demonstrate a few of the principles applied in the Study Lab. One of the participating students (Valle Gonzalez Martin) will play music to the instructions and assignments she received in the Study Lab and she will briefly comment on her experiences. The audience will be asked to assess the performances on specific qualities, reflecting the specific instructions.

The presentation by Raôul Oudejans will focus on the anxiety-performance relationship, training under pressure, training with an external focus of attention, and on results of studies in sports and professional practice. His contribution elucidates the scientific basis of several methods used in the Study Lab. Finally, Frank Bakker will present a selection of the results of both Study Labs – results obtained immediately after students had finished the Study Lab, as well as results collected 1 to 1½ year later.

An overview of the session will first be given, as follows:

Frank Bakker: Introduction of the session and brief explanation of the Study Lab.
David Collier: Video presentation of the Study Lab in 2016.
Valle Gonzalez Martin (participant Study Lab): Demonstration of and comments on Klickstein schedule.

The 20 + 5 schedule (in the presentation compressed to 5 minutes practice) helps focus attention on playing music and the goals that the musician wants to attain. In the comments of Valle some concrete examples of the effects of this schedule will be discussed.