A Psychophysiological Case Study of Orchestra Conductors.

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A Psychophysiological Case Study of Orchestra Conductors.

Med Probl Perform Art. 2015 Dec;30(4):189-196

Authors: Jaque SV, Karamanukyan IH, Thomson P

The psychological and physiological effects of performance were investigated in two professional orchestral conductors, with data collected prior to, during, and after a rehearsal and a public performance. The participants were given a battery of psychological self-report tests (anxiety, dissociation, health inventory, fantasy proneness, shame, and flow). Ambulatory physiological monitoring (Vivometric LifeShirt® system) was conducted during both a rehearsal and public performance to gather information about the autonomic nervous system and heart rate variability (HRV). One conductor had a history of asthma and anxiety, and the second conductor had coronary artery disease. The results revealed within-subject and between-subject differences in autonomic nervous system responses and HRV during several conditions (pre-performance rest, stair-climbing, rehearsal, and performance). Based on heart rate, the physiological demands of professional conducting are reflective of work intensities considered “hard.” Both conductors experienced high flow states. Anxiety and coronary artery disease may have attenuated HRV resilience in this study. It is recommended that noninvasive methods be implemented to assess cardiac autonomic activity in professional conductors, particularly during engagement in their professional activities. The findings suggest a need to further study anxiety, respiratory conditions, and cardiovascular risks for conductors.

PMID: 26614972 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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