This exposition illustrates the process and content of the 2019 Master Elective Performance Science at the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. The course is designed and coached by Susan Williams and Wieke Karsten. The concept is based on exploring aspects of musicians’ learning, performance preparation and performance based on issues that arise from the participants in each session. In this way the course grows directly from the input and needs of the students so can thus be relevant to their actual processes and needs.
Faculty research at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague focuses on a wide range of topics relevant to the artistic practice of its teaching staff, to the artistic development of its students and to the world of musical practice at large. Areas covered include informed performance practice, creative (artistic) research, instrument building, educational research, and music theory. One strand within the faculty research programme is directed towards the enhancement of the learning, practice and performing strategies of instrumentalists and vocalists. Two projects within that strand – ‘Mental Training for Performers’ by Susan Williams, and ‘Making Music, Practising and the Brain’ by Wieke Karsten – formed the occasion and motivation to organise the international conference ‘From Potential to Performance: Training Performing Musicians in Conservatoriums’ at the Royal Conservatoire, 11-13 October 2013.
This publication collects knowledge, insights and practical recommendations addressed at the conference by an outstanding group of scholars and practitioners. Some contributions to this volume were published earlier as articles in their own right, some have been written for the occasion. Combined in this publication they offer a rich and thorough account of the state of the art in this emerging research field.
The study of the relationship between musical practice and the physical and mental condition of its practitioners goes back to ancient Greek, to Plato’s Politeia or Artistotle’s Politika, where music, body and mind were conceived of as constitutive of ethos, i.e. of character, behaviour and morality. And throughout history that relationship between music, body and mind was thematised in ever-different ways; from the proto music psychology of the Baroque Affektenlehre to the Musico- Medizin speculations of the early 20th century. Only in recent decades the study of ‘performance science’ has advanced to the level of a serious research programme, rooted in both artistic practice and in cutting-edge scholarly and scientific work, combining insights from sport science, neuro-psychology, brain science, pedagogy and musical practice.
The Royal Conservatoire does not only want to profit from this emerging field of research, but also aspires to contribute insights and experiences, embedded in its higher music education culture and embodied in the professionals who study and work here. With the publication of ‘From Potential to Performance’ we support the dissemination of knowledge and understanding, but we also show our commitment to the research programme and our readiness to be in front of the development. In doing so the Conservatoire manifests awareness that today’s higher music education is in constant need to refine and attune its programme to an ever-changing world.