Musicians’ perceptions and experiences of using simulation training to develop performance skills

Aufegger, L. and Perkins, R. and Wasley, D. and Williamon, A. (2016) Musicians’ perceptions and experiences of using simulation training to develop performance skills. Psychology of Music, 45 (3). pp. 417-431. ISSN 0305-7356 (print) 1741-3087 (online)

Abstract

Simulation has been applied as a tool for learning and training in sports, psychology and medicine for some time, but its current use and potential for training musicians is less well understood. The aim of this study was to explore musicians’ perceptions and experiences of using simulated performance environments. Nine conservatory students performed in two simulations, each with interactive virtual elements and vivid environmental cues: a recital with a virtual audience and an audition with virtual judges. Qualitative data were collected through a focus group interview and written reflective commentaries. Thematic analysis highlighted the musicians’ experiences in terms of (1) their anticipation of using the simulations, (2) the process of performing in the simulations, (3) the usefulness of simulation as a tool for developing performance skills and (4) ways of improving simulation training. The results show that while simulation was new to the musicians and individual levels of immersion differed, the musicians saw benefits in the approach for developing, experimenting with and enhancing their performance skills. Specifically, the musicians emphasised the importance of framing the simulation experience with plausible procedures leading to and following on from the performance, and they recognised the potential for combining simulation with complementary training techniques.

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