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New research: Musicians more stressed than other people

07-12-2012 10:03 BJT

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The world of music is a tough business. According to new research, musicians are more stressed than other people. The study even suggested that musicians would benefit from the type of training reserved for Olympic athletes. To test this theory, renowned pianist Melvyn Tan has agreed to take part in a stress test during his performance at a UK music festival.

Pianist Melvyn Tan takes to the stage at the UK’s Cheltenham music festival. But this isn’t just a piano recital - it’s more of a scientific experiment. Tan is being tested to discover his stress levels during the concert. A single strap fitted around Tan’s chest enables researchers to measure his heart rate, breathing, temperature and posture.

The test result shows that, compared with data collected from Tan’s low stress performance at his London studio, the temperature of his skin is higher despite the concert hall being a few degrees colder. Tan’s heartbeat registered between 114 and 125 beats per minute - an increase of 30 beats per minute which is more akin to the heartbeat of someone doing exercise.

The experiments are being carried out by Aaron Williamon, professor of performance science at the Royal College of Music in London. His research has found that musicians are more physically and mentally stressed than the average person.

And what’s more the anxiety of some musicians just before and during a performance is so acute that their heart beats are comparable to athletes after they have run races.

But although musicians push themselves to their mental and physical limits, few train their bodies with tough physical workouts.

Aaron Williamon, prof. of Royal college of Music, said, "Many in fact don’t do a lot of exercise, they’ve got very busy schedules, they’re touring around a lot. But in fact what we would recommend is that for the symptoms of anxiety that are directly linked to the physical response of stress - physical activity and exercise can be a very important way to help them manage it. "

Melvyn Tan is an exception. He does try to keep fit by swimming a couple of kilometres two or three times a week, and practicing yoga to manage stress.

Melvyn Tan, pianist, said, "But I think a lot of them don’t take care of themselves as well as they should. It will probably make people much more aware of what happens to you when you go through a high stress situation like performing because you can’t really see it. It’s not something visual and a lot of people hide it."

Williamon says he wants to help music students improve their performances by helping them manage their stress levels.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: CNTV.CN

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