The Oxford Handbook of Music Performance

There is a new book published just recently, in January 2022, that I believe is worth your attention. Especially if your interests include music psychology, performance science, musicology, and music education. Its title is The Oxford Handbook of Music Performance and the editor of the publication Gary E. McPherson has  divided it into two volumes, as the covered material is quite expansive. 

The Volume 1 is dedicated to ‘Development and Learning, Proficiencies, Performance Practices, and Psychology’. The second volume covers ‘Enhancements, Health and Wellbeing, Science, and Innovations’. Alltogether there are 54 chapters, written by 80 scholars from 13 countries. 

Although many chapters of the book are focused on “classical” music due to the fact, that most of the research in this field focuses on the classical music genre, the authors also cover other genres including jazz, traditional, and popular music. 

Really valuable is the fact, that the book covers also new, or emerging issues in the field. Worth mentioning are wellbeing, technology, gender, diversity, resilience, diseases, and physical and mental disabilities. A reader, therefore, finds here in one space a lot of interesting information.

This book is also particularly relevant to what I am trying to do here at Musicably – focusing on the active music making, or musicking. Although not on performing on a professional level.

The editor Gary E. McPherson is clear about to whom is this book intended. Primarily there are practicing musicians, who can find practical information relevant to their performance development. Then there are music educators, who can find interesting concepts for their own teaching. The next are music students. And the last group are researchers, who can consider this publication as a ‘time-stamp’ of the current stage of research in this particular topic of music performance. 

If you belong to one or more of these groups, I am sure you will find many interesting ideas, concepts, and information in over 1,400 pages of this book, that will enhance your professional life. This is not to be read from the cover to cover. But as a true ‘handbook’ it is intended to be at your disposal whenever a need for knowledge or inspiration appears.

The book starts with a quote that I find really funny illustration of a “musician’s mind”:

“I have wept only three times in my life: the first time when my earliest opera failed, the second time when, with a boating party, a truffled turkey fell into the water, and the third time when I first heard Paganini play.”

—Gioachino Rossini (quoted in Amis & Rose, 1992, p. 175)

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