Dissertation Title:

Body, Soul, and the Art of Making Music


Gary Ferguson

Date, Time & Place:

May 22, 2021 at 11:00 am


This five-week study compared somatic versus cognitive behavioral (CBT) interventions for (a) decreasing music performance anxiety (MPA) and (b) enhancing musical artistry.  The study utilized a mixed-method design introducing a new somatic intervention designed to help musicians create an emotional, embodied connection to the music being performed and to encourage musical communication.  The CBT intervention utilized cognitive restructuring (CR) combined with the centering technique (CT) focusing on self-regulation and building attention skills.  The qualitative, phenomenological component of the study explored the study participants’ lived experience of MPA, musical artistry, self-efficacy, the roles of embodiment and imagination in the music-making process, facilitation of the flow state, practice and performance preparation, and the impact of personal mythology on performance attainment.  The quantitative aspect of the study employed measures that allowed for a baseline to post-intervention comparison between the two techniques as to their effectiveness for decreasing MPA, enhancing musical artistry and self-efficacy, and facilitating the flow state.  During a blind mock audition, participants performed repertoire typically used in academic or professional auditions.  The mock auditions were adjudicated by faculty members from the Longy School of Music—evaluating both the technical execution and musical artistry of the participants.  In addition, the mock auditions were videotaped and analyzed using an adaptation of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) to better understand the role of the body in live performance.  This study helps to fill the void in the research literature pertaining to embodiment in the arts, performance skills training in music curricula, and depth psychological (imaginative) approaches to the music-making process that assist student musicians in becoming soulful (soul-filled) artists.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2013
  • Chair: Dr. Allen Bishop
  • Reader: Dr. Sabine Oishi
  • External Reader: Dr. Roger Graybill
  • Keywords: Music Performance Anxiety (MPA), Somatic InTUNEment (SI), Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT), The Centering Technique (CT), Cognitive Restructuring (CR), Musical Artistry, Depth Psychology, Performance, Skills, Somatic, Embodiment, Imagination, Flow State, Self-efficacy