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      Pursuing Artful Movement Science in Music Performance: Single Subject Motor Analysis With Two Elite Pianists


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          Piano performance motor learning research requires more “artful” methodologies if it is to meaningfully address music performance as a corporeal art. To date, research has been sparse and it has typically constrained multiple performance variables in order to isolate specific phenomena. This approach has denied the fundamental ethos of music performance which, for elite performers, is an act of interpretation, not mere reproduction. Piano performances are intentionally manipulated for artistic expression. We documented motor movements in the complex task of performance of the first six measures of Chopin’s “Revolutionary” Etude by two anthropometrically different elite pianists. We then discussed their motor strategy selections as influenced by anthropometry and the composer’s musical directives. To quantify the joint angles of the trunk, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, we used a VICON 3 D motion capture system and biomechanical modeling. A Kistler force plate (1 N, Swiss) quantified center of gravity (COG) shifts. Changes in COG and trunk angles had considerable influence on the distal segments of the upper limbs. The shorter pianist used an anticipatory strategy, employing larger shifts in COG and trunk angles to produce dynamic stability as compensation for a smaller stature. Both pianists took advantage of low inertial left shoulder internal rotation and adduction to accommodate large leaps in the music. For the right arm, motor strategizing was confounded by rests in the music. These two cases illustrated, in principle, that expert pianists’ individualized motor behaviors can be explained as compensatory efforts to accommodate both musical goals and anthropometric constraints. Motor learning among piano students can benefit from systematic attention to motor strategies that consider both of these factors.

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          The musician's brain as a model of neuroplasticity

          Studies of experience-driven neuroplasticity at the behavioural, ensemble, cellular and molecular levels have shown that the structure and significance of the eliciting stimulus can determine the neural changes that result. Studying such effects in humans is difficult, but professional musicians represent an ideal model in which to investigate plastic changes in the human brain. There are two advantages to studying plasticity in musicians: the complexity of the eliciting stimulus music and the extent of their exposure to this stimulus. Here, we focus on the functional and anatomical differences that have been detected in musicians by modern neuroimaging methods.
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            Flexibility of movement organization in piano performance

            Piano performance involves a large repertoire of highly skilled movements. The acquisition of these exceptional skills despite innate neural and biomechanical constraints requires a sophisticated interaction between plasticity of the neural system and organization of a redundant number of degrees of freedom (DOF) in the motor system. Neuroplasticity subserving virtuosity of pianists has been documented in neuroimaging studies investigating effects of long-term piano training on structure and function of the cortical and subcortical regions. By contrast, recent behavioral studies have advanced the understanding of neuromuscular strategies and biomechanical principles behind the movement organization that enables skilled piano performance. Here we review the motor control and biomechanics literature, introducing the importance of describing motor behaviors not only for understanding mechanisms responsible for skillful motor actions in piano playing, but also for advancing diagnosis and rehabilitation of movement disorders caused by extensive piano practice.
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              Exploring relationships between pianists' body movements, their expressive intentions, and structural elements of the music


                Author and article information

                Percept Mot Skills
                Percept Mot Skills
                Perceptual and Motor Skills
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                27 March 2021
                June 2021
                : 128
                : 3
                : 1252-1274
                [1 ]Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
                [2 ]Department of Music, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
                Author notes
                [*]Gongbing Shan, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4, Canada. Email: g.shan@ 123456uleth.ca
                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2021

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000038;
                Award ID: RGPIN-2014-03648
                Section III. Peak Performance
                Learning & Arts
                Custom metadata

                piano performance,biomechanical modeling,compensatory motor behavior,anthropometry,trunk movement,musical context


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