Performance Simulator

A student performing on a pianist in front of a visual simulator, with a women managing the simulator on screens.
The world’s first performance simulator has pioneered a decade of RCM research, teaching, and innovation.

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.

Inspired by, and in collaboration with, those who develop simulation environments for surgical training, the RCM developed the world’s first music performance simulator. It worked with the 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, to developed the facility. The simulator features 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 training facility offers a unique opportunity for musicians to practise their performing and auditioning skills.

The facility has been in constant use by musicians and performers since its initial development. It has allowed thousands of musicians and other performers to develop and refine valuable professional skills and been the basis for a decade of leading research into the physiological and psychological challenges of performance.

The simulator is still in use at the RCM, and has since seen a major upgrade into world leading Performance Laboratory.

Project team

Lisa Aufegger

Hubert Eiholzer (Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana)

Mats Küssner

Aaron Williamon

Project outputs

Read about the newly designed RCM Performance Laboratory.


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, 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 Psychology5(25), 1-9 [DOI]


Skyline Whitespace, who built a new stage surround, blogged about the Performance Simulator, including a short video.


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Performance Simulator

Enquiries relating to the Performance Simulator

Emma Hewett

Research and Knowledge Exchange Manager

+44 (0)20 7591 4734

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