Toward a Science of Music Performance


Transdisciplinary Research on Task-Specific Movement and Learning Parameters in Professional Musicians

Important insights into brain-behavior interactions have been gathered through research in experimental psychology and medical sciences, and the fields of neuroscience and movement sciences.

Nevertheless, scientific assessment of learning practices, and movement performance in professional musicians has received less attention. The high number of professional musicians suffering from health problems related to music-making calls for an in-depth scientific assessment of those movement parameters central to music performance at high levels of finger and hand dexterity.

Modern neuroscience, experimental psychology and medical and movement sciences are all giving compelling evidence to assume that these kind of investigations may lead to an important change in the way musicians select their learning strategies and practice behaviors.

It is hypothesized that scientifically-grounded learning strategies will drastically contribute to reduce the amount of physical exercise and, in so doing, to prevention of hazardous physical disorders of musicians.

For this particular case, scientific assessment can be only achieved through interdisciplinary work involving experimental psychology, medical sciences, neurosciences and music.

Professional musicians play a central role in this process, as they possess a vast and deep experiential knowledge necessary to delineate task-specific questions, which can be then regarded from a scientific perspective.

The project is a collaboration between the Collegium Helveticum, the Department of Music of the Zurich University of Arts, the Electronics Laboratory of ETHZ, and the TableTop Interaction Laboratory (t2i Lab), from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Chalmers TH, Gothenburg, Sweden. Recently, the apprenticeship course for laboratory technicians (Physiklaborant) from the Physics Department at ETHZ also became a partner.

The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for a three-years period.