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Work. 2011;40(3):289-96. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1232.

Incorporating flow into practice and performance.

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Temple University, Rock Hall, Room 222, 1715 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.


In the music profession, individuals often work under stress filled conditions. This is especially true for individuals making their living as performing musicians. Musical performance anxiety has been well documented in both students and professionals. For some, the experience may lead to a termination of what might otherwise remain a successful performing career. Humans are susceptible to anxiety and so the phenomenon of musical performance anxiety is not likely to disappear. Learning how to effectively deal with musical performance anxiety is paramount for those in the performing arts. Entering a state of flow, in which there is total absorption in an activity, allows for the possiblity of any ensuing anxiety to become facilitative, rather than debilitative. This article will discuss several characteristics of flow, as defined by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, and provide practical applications for musical practice and performance in an attempt to counterbalance musical performance anxiety. Musicians will benefit from a closer examination of the elements of flow and means of incorporating these elements into practice and performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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