Planning and performance

Eckart Altenmüller and Sabine Schneider

in Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780199298457
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Planning and performance


Making music is one of the most demanding tasks for the human central nervous system. It involves the precise execution of very fast and, in many instances, extremely complex physical movements that must be coordinated with continuous auditory feedback. Practice is required to develop these skills and carry out these complex tasks. This article discusses the neurobiological foundations of planning, motor learning, and practice. The first section introduces essential general information for musical readers concerning the organization of cortical, subcortical, and cerebellar motor systems in the brain. The second section addresses the brain processes during acquisition of skilled movements in music making and demonstrates the dynamics of neuronal networks. The third section reports new findings on practice strategies and performance quality. The fourth section presents the causes of degradation of skilled movements in professional musicians. The article concludes with some comments concerning the significance of results of brain research in order to improve practice habits and performance in musicians.

Keywords: motor learning; practice; motor systems; brain; skilled movements; music making; neural networks

Article.  6297 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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