Emerging Themes, New Directions

Exciting new directions in training for the performing arts are emerging through  integrating the fields of neuroscience, social science, and education. In going beyond current practices, teachers can benefit from greater understanding of individual differences, developmental, and risk factors for stress-related problems that often emanate from traditional approaches to training. A primary aim of this organization is to provide individuals with greater access to the body of knowledge from multi-disciplinary subject areas as a way of extending their personal expertise to effectively apply scientifically established findings to traditional arts teaching, rehearsal, and performance practice. SNPPA is about drawing from these seemingly diverse dimensions to produce information about the interdependence of social & biological science, and increase the success-rate for performing artists.

As a society in place to bring psychology and neuroscience to musicians, I take the 8 emergent themes for bringing neuroscience and psychology to the arts, and make comments that amplify their message, relevant to our purpose:

  1. Closing the Gap. “Brain based” education practices are slow in coming in the classroom, but nonexistent in the performing arts. We agree add that brain science is not a driving force behind improvement in music education practices. Teachers can learn how to learn about cognitive neuroscience and bring it to the lesson, rehearsal and performance. Doing so will greatly increase proficiency of students and performers as well as increasing their motivation and beliefs about themselves.
  2. Dispelling Myths.  Beliefs that one can ascertain the difference between learning and genetic predisposition, exist in the performing arts. These myths need to be identified and removed from educational policy.
  3. New Research Agenda Needed. Artists are generally not trained in science, and scientists are rarely trained in the arts. Closing that gap from both “ends” may, in the final analysis, precipitate the greatest ability to created informed teaching practice. Multidisciplinary means just that, and all of us are called upon to work together to make it happen.
  4. Communication is Key. Scientists and educators need to understand one anothers’ language and intent. An example would be the word “theory.” The word has two distinct meanings; one in a scientific context, the other in the real world (hunch). The science meaning is far from a hunch, but unaware of its meaning, non-scientists typically believe that scientists just go from hunches. These misguided notions have had far reaching effects in the past. We as a society need to make it our priority to disseminate accurate information.
  5. Contributions from Many Disciplines are Needed. We need not limit ourselves to social science, neuroscience and education. The summit called for other disciplines, such as engineering, to help design new experiments so as to create better learning environments for all. Statisticians are definitely needed so as to identify best statistical practices. Psychiatrists who are interested in the arts can inform us about the physiological basis of personality.
  6. New Careers Opportunities in Neuroscience. There are now new university programs that would combine relevant fields. Sport Psychology comes to my mind since their mission parallels our own, though the demands are different. Sport Psychology was ahead of its time in the creation of the cross-discipline of Physical Movement, Sports, and Social Science. They not only created college certificate and degree programs, but offer the opportunity for individuals to gain knowledge through their Certified Consultant Programs. Our Society will replicate this idea for the Performing Arts.
  7. Innovative training models in teacher preparation. This key point emphasizes the critical importance of teachers being knowledgeable consumers of science–all science. The Summit called for teachers gaining lab experience, working with scientist mentors and working in supervised settings. We wholly agree that this position is not just sufficient, but necessary to accomplish the goal of neuroscience integration into the Arts Curriculum.
  8. Institutions of Higher Learning Must Bring Education and Neuroscience Together. Existing faculty can be utilized with CE credits emphasizing cross-disciplinary work. We also look to the Institute for Healthcare Initiatives in their pioneering work to enhance all aspects of health care.

This is the exciting future of the Performing arts in all aspects. I invite you to join us.