A warm welcome to my new blog linking music making with music psychology, health and wellbeing.
This blog is intended to be helpful to anyone who is interested in the processes and practicalities of teaching, learning and performing music. It is partly inspired by my own experience of enjoying musical performance, developing practical musicianship, and adopting a broad spectrum of teaching strategies. It is also partly led by my interest in the real-world applications of the psychology of music, and using music-making to enhance physical, psychological and social wellbeing.
Music psychology is a relatively new discipline, which began to gain prominence towards the middle of the last century. The first well-known writer on this subject was Carl Seashore, who published his book (simply entitled Psychology of Music) in 1938. Since then, there has been a rapidly growing number of researchers in this field, and an ever-increasing potential for applying our findings in real-life music-making.
Whenever I mention music psychology, someone usually expresses surprise that such a thing exists, and they immediately want to know what on earth it could be. The most straightforward answer is that music psychology helps us to study musical behaviour and experiences. It helps us to explore the connections between what is going on inside our heads and what is happening in the music when we are participating in musical activities, whether as a listener, audience member, learner or performer.
The areas covered by music psychology include musical development, which explores the origins of human musicality and how we acquire musical skills; music in everyday life, which examines how we use music to influence our mood and environment; and performance psychology, which investigates phenomena such as music performance anxiety or ‘stage fright’.
There is also a burgeoning interest in the related field of music and wellbeing. Virtually every month there is new research-based evidence demonstrating the effects of musical participation upon physical, psychological and social wellbeing. In this blog, I will highlight some of the research into music psychology, and music and wellbeing; to record some of my own relevant experiences; and to suggest some practical applications of the emerging body of literature in this area.
I hope that anyone who happens to read this blog will find some useful information, some thought-provoking anecdotes, and some helpful ideas about teaching, learning and making music. Enjoy!