The effect of the Tomatis method on the psychological well–being and piano performance of student pianists
Vercueil, Anna Catharina
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The literature on psychological well-being indicates that high levels of psychological well-being encourage a psychological loop that reinforces itself, lifting an individual on an 'upward spiral' of continued psychological flourishing, which may contribute to positive human functioning. In addition, the literature suggests that effective intervention can raise the levels of psychological well-being. There are features inherent in the training of student pianists that can contribute to their psychological vulnerability, especially with regard to self-concept and anxiety. Therefore, they can benefit from an intervention that may raise their level of psychological well-being, thus contributing to their resilience in coping with the challenges presented by their training as well as their piano performance. Clinical observations as well as research indicate that the Tomatis Method can enhance psychological well-being and improve academic functioning. Furthermore, Tomatis' theories and observations suggest that this programme can also enhance music performance, especially with regard to self-listening skills. However, although Tomatis indicates that he observed the same results with instrumentalists as with singers, his writings mostly refer to singers. Except for a single case study by Madaule in 1976, there seems to be no other scientific evidence that the Tomatis Method has benefited student pianists. Therefore, the purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the effect of the Tomatis Method on student pianists' psychological well-being and piano performance. The empirical study consisted of a two-group pre-post assessment mixed-method design, involving thirteen 2nd year to postgraduate student pianists from the School of Music and Conservatory, of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). These students were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n = 7) which was exposed to the Tomatis Listening Programme, and a non-intervention control group (n = 6). Quantitative data were obtained by means of a battery of tests, which included self-report inventories regarding psychological well-being and music performance anxiety, as well as scales regarding piano performance. The levels of the participants' psychological well-being were measured with the Scales of Psychological Well-Being (Ryff, 1989), the Affectometer 2 (Kammann & Flett, 1983), and the Profile of Mood States (Mc Nair et al., 1992). Participants' levels of music performance anxiety were measured with the Music Performance Anxiety Inventory for Adolescents (Osborne & Kenny, 2005), and the Kenny Music Performance Anxiety Inventory (Kenny et al., 2004). The quality of the students' piano performances was assessed by means of a general impression expressed as a percentage, Mills' constructs (1987) for the assessment of music performance, and Piano Performance Rating Scale (PPRS) which was developed for this study. Qualitative data were acquired by means of interviews, group discussions, projective drawings, written reports, personal observations and the Tomatis Listening Test Results indicated improvement regarding some aspects related to student pianists' psychological well-being and piano performance. Further research with regard to these aspects is required.
- Humanities