The Royal College of Music, Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana (Lugano), London-based creative design consultancy Studiohead, and Skyline Whitespace, one of the leading providers of custom modular stands in Europe, have developed a new performance simulator, complete with realistic back-stage and on-stage areas as well as an interactive virtual audience and audition panel. Generously supported by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, this new training facility offers a unique opportunity for musicians to practise their performing and auditioning skills.
Musicians typically rehearse far away from their audiences and in practice rooms that differ significantly from the concert venues in which they aspire to perform. Due to high costs and the inaccessibility of such venues, much current international music training lacks repeated exposure to realistic performance situations, with students learning all too late (or not at all) how to manage the stresses of performing and the demands of their audiences.
The Performance Simulator operates in two modes: (i) concert and (ii) audition simulation. It allows musicians to develop and refine valuable professional skills in various settings such as regular coaching sessions to enhance stage presence skills, counselling applications for musicians suffering from performance anxiety, and state-of-the-art physiological monitoring before, during and after a performance.
A new AV recording system furthermore allows musicians to watch, evaluate and share their performances in the simulator immediately afterwards on any web-enabled device.
The BBC Radio 3 programme The Scalpel and the Bow explored how interactive, simulated performance environments are now being used to train musicians and surgeons to perform under pressure. Visit the page for recorded interviews, pictures, and information from the project.
Küssner MB, Aufegger L, Eiholzer H, & Williamon A (forthcoming), Der “Performance Simulator”: Entwicklung und Evaluation eines Trainingangebots für MusikerInnen am Royal College of Music, Jahrbuch Musikpsychologie (Band 24): Angewandte Musikpsychologie, Göttingen: Hogrefe.
Williamon A, Aufegger L, & Eiholzer H (2014), Simulating and stimulating performance: Introducing distributed simulation to enhance musical learning and performance, Frontiers in Psychology, 5(25), 1-9 [DOI].
Skyline Whitespace, who built a new stage surround, blogged about the Performance Simulator, including a short video.