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Exploring Kinaesthetic and Body Self-Awareness in Professional Musicians

Minafra, Annamaria; (2019) Exploring Kinaesthetic and Body Self-Awareness in Professional Musicians. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This research aimed to explore whether developing movement awareness in the playing of professional musicians could improve performance and assist in reducing tension. The issue was studied adopting a neurophenomenological perspective (Varela, 1996) which combines the traditions of continental phenomenology and neuroscientific studies related to cognitive processes. Musicians are often not aware of the importance of their body movements or gestures in playing (Holgersen, 2010). This research investigated whether movement awareness could be developed and if so what impact it would have on performance. Qualitative data were collected by applying phenomenological First-person mediator methods through semi-structured interviews, observation, and audiovisual materials. A range of professional instrumentalists participated. A quasi-repeated qualitative measurement research design was adopted. The musicians were asked to perform an easy, slow piece of music, which they had previously chosen, from memory three times. The first time the piece was performed with no intervention. In the first intervention they were asked to mentally rehearse the piece before playing it again, and in the second, they were asked to simulate the movements of playing without their instrument, before performing. The activities and performances were video recorded. The data were analysed in terms of verbal and non-verbal responses during the interviews and following performance. The performances were analysed by a panel of five experienced musicians and comparisons made in relation to the way the participants responded to the interventions. The findings showed that all of the musicians were affected by the simulation which aroused a range of feelings. The simulation seemed to generate kinaesthetic and sensory-motor feedback assisting the musicians in shaping their thoughts and developing body self-awareness even when they expressed negative feelings. The panellists noted a reduction in anxiety particularly following the third performance and an increase in concentration, musical communication, accuracy and fluidity of gestures.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Exploring Kinaesthetic and Body Self-Awareness in Professional Musicians
Event: UCL-Institue of Education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: music embodied cognition, phenomenology, Kinaesthesia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068662
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