Publication Date

2018-05-02

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2018-05-02

Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Department

Vocal Performance (Music)

Date of Defense

2018-03-22

First Committee Member

Esther Jane Hardenbergh

Second Committee Member

Alan Johnson

Third Committee Member

Judy Marchman

Fourth Committee Member

Timothy Conner

Abstract

Research continuously acknowledges mindfulness—the practice of purposefully, nonjudgmentally paying attention in the present moment —as a technique to reduce anxiety, improve attention and working memory, and overall enhance physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While the college years are often tumultuous, mindfulness can be a viable means of reducing student anxiety while enhancing one’s learning experience, particularly for the highly demanding lifestyles of music students. Musicians who undergo mindfulness training have reported reduced performance anxiety, increased performance quality, more focused practices, and improved positive affect, among other published results. Mindfulness may be especially beneficial for musicians who are singers, who require heightened physical awareness and psychological resilience to perform successfully. Despite these advantages, few institutions regularly offer courses or training in mindfulness or related mental performance skills. Private voice teachers have an opportunity to bridge this gap in their studios. This essay presents a case study that incorporated formal mindfulness practice into the voice lessons of three music majors. The purpose of this study was to investigate if mindfulness enhanced the students’ experience of learning vocal technique, as well as if it reduced students’ general anxiety. The results were gathered using both quantitative scales and open-ended interviews, and they suggested that mindfulness did reduce general anxiety and enhance students’ learning experience, particularly by improving focus and stress management coping skills. Some results suggest that mindfulness was particularly beneficial for learning vocal technique, but further research is needed to form a strong conclusion. Overall, this study can be used as a model for voice teachers who wish to proactively address aspects of mental performance with their students.

Keywords

mindfulness; voice; singing; anxiety; learning; vocal pedagogy

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