Performing musicians’ understanding of the terms “mental practice” and “score analysis”

Fine, Philip A. and Wise, Karen J. and Goldemberg, Ricardo and Bravo, Anabela (2015) Performing musicians’ understanding of the terms “mental practice” and “score analysis”. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain. ISSN 0275-3987

This is the latest version of this item.

[img] Text
Performing musicians’ understanding of the terms “mental practice” and “score analysis”.docx

Download (108kB)
Official URL:


Musicians commonly speak of mental practice and score analysis in referring to strategies widely used by performers. However, these terms may not be universally understood in the same way. To address this, 89 experienced musicians were surveyed as to their views and experiences concerning mental practice and score analysis, using a mixture of closed/rating scale and open-ended questions. They were asked what they understood by these terms and what information these strategies enabled them to obtain from the score. Results suggest that mental practice and score analysis are both considered useful, though mental practice more so. Content analysis identified the main characteristics of mental practice as: occurring away from the instrument; involving several types of imagery, often in real time; and focusing on performance preparation, particularly aspects of execution and realisation. During mental practice, the score tended to function more as a memory aid, an orientation guide, and as a point of reference for interpretation. Score analysis was considered more theoretical, though still relevant for performance preparation at a range of levels from exploratory to detailed. During score analysis, information primarily increased musical understanding of the piece, and related to both structural (e.g. form, harmony) and aesthetic (e.g. tempo, phrasing) aspects. The findings are discussed in terms of the current understanding of mental practice and score analysis in the literature, and the relationship between them. Mental practice and score analysis do have similarities, such as their benefit to performance preparation, and distinctions, for instance concerning their specific aims. However, they may be best considered as lying on a continuum of strategies for performance practice and enhancement, rather than as two distinct behaviors.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Submission Date: June 25, 2014 Acceptance Date: February 21, 2015
Uncontrolled Keywords: mental practice, score analysis, imagery, performance preparation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
Divisions: School of Psychology and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Philip Fine
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 13:11
Last Modified: 12 May 2015 13:11

Available Versions of this Item

  • Performing musicians’ understanding of the terms “mental practice” and “score analysis”. (deposited 12 May 2015 13:11) [Currently Displayed]

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item