Pianists’ Focus of Attention Modulates Expressive Performance: Differential Effects on Timing, Loudness, and Variability of Keystrokes
Presenter Name:Tracy Lipke-Perry
School/Affiliation:Crane School of Music, The State University of New York at Potsdam, Potsdam, NY, USA
Co-Authors:Morris Levy, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN, USA; Darren J. Dutto, Eastern Oregon University, La Grande, OR, USA
The purpose of this project was to determine the effect of internal vs. external focus on the timing, magnitude, and variability of keystrokes in repertoire performances by trained pianists. The intent was to investigate and objectively measure potential observed differences to illuminate effects which might 1) facilitate and potentially corroborate qualitative musical assessment going forward 2) serve particular pedagogical needs (i.e. addressing rhythmic or stylistic elements or deficiencies), and 3) inform future focus of attention research involving aesthetic tasks, a dimension that remains relatively untapped.
Nine pianists participated in the study. Each pianist played the piece 4 times beginning with a baseline (B) performance without any instruction, followed by 3 subsequent performances (in randomized order) focusing on: 1) creating the idea of a dance (E: external focus), 2) his/her fingertips and creating a staccato (short) articulation (I: internal focus), and 3) the beat of a metronome (M). MIDI data was used to compare the effect of each condition. Four by 2 repeated-measures ANOVAS were used to identify significant differences across performance conditions, and matrices of stability were calculated to examine relative stability of expressive parameters.
Significant differences among conditions were observed in note-on velocity and keystroke duration (LH) across the piece and 1st-phrase microexpression, (RH) timing and note-on velocity.
Directing a performer’s focus appears to influence keystroke dynamics. Clusters of performance strategies emerge within overall trends, highlighting the importance of aligning focus with performance goals and stages of learning.