Probing Focus of Attention: Multiple Case-Study Analysis of Pianists’ Pedaling Under Different Foci Conditions in Performance of Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dance Sz. 56, No. 2

Tracy Lipke-Perry, Morris Levy, Darren J. Dutto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

A differential benefit of external focus of attention (FOA) relative to internal focus has been demonstrated across a wide variety of athletic and rehabilitative pursuits; however, very little research has been undertaken in the performing arts. Given the unique aesthetic context of the arts and obvious transdisciplinary parallels, particular attention is warranted. This study examines nine pianists’ pedaling while performing Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dance Sz. 56, No. 2, and directing attention to three different focus conditions relative to a baseline condition. Differences in global pedal use and technique emerged and appeared to be modulated by level of expertise and the length of time spent preparing the piece. The two most experienced pianists and the least experienced pianist demonstrated greatest consistency in pedaling, as measured by Z scores calculated across eight performance parameters. Results corroborate previous FOA research demonstrating performance variability when adopting different focus strategies. Implications include the need to deliberately align focus strategies in music training and performance. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to examine performance effects of external against internal FOA on pianists’ pedaling. The critical conceptual aspect of the work is beginning to illuminate the relationships between a performer’s attention and motor output, and perceived artistic or musical effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMusic and Science
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • Attention
  • expertise
  • focus
  • pedal
  • piano

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