The relationship between flow and music performance anxiety amongst professional classical orchestral musicians

Susanna Cohen, Ehud Bodner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research investigating methods of facilitating classical music performance has tended to focus on treating the debilitating effects of Music Performance Anxiety (MPA). It has been suggested that flow and MPA may be antithetical experiences and that fostering techniques for facilitating flow may provide a powerful tool for helping to alleviate MPA. However, there is a scarcity of data exploring professional classical musicians’ experiences of flow, and little empirical evidence supporting a relationship between flow and MPA. The current study examined the flow experiences and the relationship between flow and MPA amongst 202 professional classical orchestral musicians in Israel. Results showed that the majority of participants regularly experience flow. Hierarchical regression analysis provided evidence of a strong, negative relationship between flow and MPA, supporting the suggestion that facilitating flow may provide a helpful approach for alleviating MPA. An additional exploratory investigation was made into performers’ experiences of Musical Emotional Contagion (MEC), the influence of the emotional contents of the music on the performer. Results showed that the majority of participants reported experiences of MEC and there was evidence of significant associations between MEC, flow and MPA. The clinical implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-435
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Music
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.

Keywords

  • flow
  • music performance
  • music performance anxiety
  • musical emotional contagion
  • professional musicians

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