Psychology for Musicians: Understanding and Acquiring the Skills

By Andreas C. Lehmann; John A. Sloboda et al. | Go to book overview
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Science and Musical Skills
Psychology should offer some points of reference for musicians in their activities as teachers or performers or in their everyday lives at home where they practice, rehearse, or play for their own entertainment. Before delving into topics such as musical development, practice, performance anxiety, and various other aspects of the psychology of music, we must clarify basic concepts and ideas behind our approach to these topics. We assume that music making and listening involve a host of different skills and subskills that are strongly linked to the environment in which they are used, thus connecting every musical activity to a unique cultural time and place. For example, singing in a rock band only became possible in the twentieth century in the Western hemisphere, playing the sitar still mainly happens in India, and the pygmies of the Ituri rain forest do not require a music critic.Although the skills required by the preceding examples might look quite disparate, what unites them from a psychological standpoint is that their smooth functioning is made possible by internal mechanisms that are largely developed in the course of training. The vocalist, the sitar player, and the music critic have acquired internal mental representations of music that allow them to memorize, perform, compare, and talk about music that they have experienced. These introductory examples imply that musicians manipulate information more or less skillfully in response to certain demands. In this book, we ask how musicians perform those tasks, why some may be better at it than others, and how they have developed their faculties.In this chapter we will highlight the following points:
1. There are different ways of learning about and discussing important issues in music psychology and music education. We propound the scientific approach to complement other, more traditional approaches.

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