Preventing music performance anxiety (MPA): Music students judge combined Depth Relaxation Music Therapy (DRMT) and silence to be an effective methodology


  • Eric Pfeifer Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg, Germany
  • Christine Stolterfoth
  • Claudia Spahn
  • Hans Ulrich Schmidt
  • Tonius Timmermann
  • Marc Wittmann



This article presents the results of a study which focused on the application of combined Hypnomusictherapy (HMT)/Depth Relaxation Music Therapy (DRMT) and silence in preventing music performance anxiety (MPA) in music students. Participants (n=12) were divided into two groups. Each group received either 16 minutes of HMT/DRMT followed by 6:30 minutes of silence or a 16-minute seminar consisting of a moderated group discussion on silence followed by 6:30 minutes of silence. Each of the two groups experienced the alternative condition (within-subject design) with one week in between. Focus groups were held for data gathering after each session. Qualitative content analysis according to Mayring [1,2] was applied to analyze the data. Silence following DRMT/HMT was perceived as more relaxing and longer lasting than silence following the seminar. Participants reported that their distracting or depressing thoughts decreased and their auditive perception of silence changed during the combined silence and DRMT/HMT. The results indicate that the procedure can help prevent MPA.

Author Biography

Eric Pfeifer, Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg, Germany

Professor for aesthetics anc communication - special emphasis on music


Mayring P. Qualitative content analysis: Theoretical foundation, basic procedures and software solution. 2014. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2019.

Mayring P. Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. 12th ed. Weinheim: Beltz; 2015.

Kenny DT. The psychology of music performance anxiety. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2011.

Brodsky W., Sloboda JA. Clinical trial of a music generated vibrotactile therapeutic environment for musicians: Main effects and outcome differences between therapy subgroups. J. Mus. Ther. 1997; 34: 2–32.

Kim Y. Combined treatment of improvisation and desensitization to alleviate of musical performance anxiety in female college pianists. Med. Probl. Perform. Ar. 2005; 20: 17–24.

Kim Y. The effect of improvisation-assisted desensitization, and music-assisted progressive muscle relaxation and imagery on reducing pianists’ music performance anxiety. J. Mus. Ther. 2008; 45: 165–191.

Montello L, Coons EE, Kantor J. The use of music therapy as a treatment for musical performance stress. Med. Probl. Perform. Ar. 1990; 5: 49–57.

Brugués AO. Music performance anxiety – part 2. A review of treatment options. Med. Probl. Perform. Ar. 2011; 26: 164–171.

Kenny DA. Systematic review of treatments for music performance anxiety. Anxiety Stress Coping. 2005; 18: 183–208.

McGinnis AM, Milling LS. Psychological treatments of musical performance anxiety: current status and future directions. Psychother. Theor. Res. Pract. Train. 2005; 42: 375–373.

Goren L. A metaanalysis of nonpharmacological psychotherapies for music performance anxiety. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. San Francisco, California, USA: California Institute of Integral Studies; 2014. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2019.

Pfeifer E, Sarikaya A, Wittmann M. Changes in states of consciousness during a period of silence after a session of Depth Relaxation Music Therapy (DRMT). Music Med. 2016; 8: 180–186.

Spahn C. Auftrittsangst. In: Spahn C, Richter B, Altenmüller E, eds. MusikerMedizin. Diagnostik, Therapie und Prävention von musikerspezifischen Erkrankungen. Stuttgart: Schattauer; 2011:50–74.

Spahn C, Walther JC, Nusseck M. The effectiveness of a multimodal concept of audition training for music students in coping with music performance anxiety. Psychol. Music. 2016; 44: 893–909.

Yoshie M, Kudo K, Ohtsuki T. Effects of psychological stress on state anxiety, electromyographic activity, and arpeggio performance in pianists. Med. Probl. Perform. Ar. 2008; 23: 120 –132.

Mantel G. Mut zum Lampenfieber: Mentale Strategien für Musiker zur Bewältigung von Auftritts- und Prüfungsangst. Mainz: Schott; 2003.

Charness G, Gneezy U, Kuhn MA. Experimental methods: Between-subject and within-subject design. J. Econ. Behav. Organ. 2012; 81: 1–8.

Decker-Voigt HH. Methodology of music therapy and depth relaxation (DRMT). In: Frohne-Hagemann I, ed. Receptive music therapy. Theory and practice. Wiesbaden: Reichert; 2007: 239–251

Decker-Voigt HH. Musiktherapeutische Tiefenentspannung. Einführung in eine Methodik rezeptiver Musiktherapie mit einem Beitrag von Friedrich-Karl Maetzel. Lilienthal/Bremen: Eres-Edition; 2009.

Decker-Voigt HH, Pfeifer E. Musiktherapeutische Tiefenentspannung (MTE). In: Decker-Voigt HH, Weymann E [in collaboration with Nöcker-Ribaupierre M, Pfeifer E], eds. Lexikon Musiktherapie. 3rd ed. Göttingen: Hogrefe Verlag; in press.

Loos P, Schäffer B. Das Gruppendiskussionsverfahren. Oppladen: Leske & Budrich; 2001.

Lamnek S. Qualitative Sozialforschung. 5th ed. Weinheim: Beltz; 2010.

Lamnek S. Gruppendiskussion. Theorie und Praxis. 2nd ed. Weinheim: Beltz; 2005.

Ghetti CM, Keith DR. Qualitative content analysis. In: Wheeler BL, Murphy K, eds. Music therapy research. 3rd ed.. Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers; 2016: 521–526.

Pfeifer E, Fiedler H, Wittmann M. Enhanced relaxation in students after combined Depth Relaxation Music Therapy and Silence in a natural Setting. Arts Psychother.: in press.

Mrazek MD, Smallwood J, Schooler JW. Mindfulness and mind-wandering: Finding convergence through opposing constructs. Emotion. 2012; 12: 442–448.

Weiner L, Wittmann M, Bertschy G, Giersch A. Dispositional mindfulness and subjective time in healthy individuals. Front. Psychol. 2016; 7.

Stolterfoth C. Musiktherapeutische Tiefenentspannung (MTE) unter Einbezug von Stille in der Prävention der Auftrittsangst – Untersuchung eines musiktherapeutischen Modells als Beitrag zur Musikermedizin. Unpublished master’s thesis. Augsburg: University of Augsburg; 2017.

Grawe K, Donati R, Bernauer F. Psychotherapie im Wandel. Von der Konfession zur Profession. 5th edition. Göttingen: Hogrefe; 2001.

Linnemann A, Strahler J, Nater UM. The stress-reducing effect of music listening varies depending on the social context. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016; 72: 97–105.

Petersen P. Beziehung Patient – Therapeut. In: Decker-Voigt HH, Knill PJ, Weymann E, eds. Lexikon Musiktherapie. Göttingen: Hogrefe; 1996: 68–71.

Jordan AK, Pfeifer E, Stegemann T, Lutz Hochreutener S, eds. Musiktherapie in pädagogischen Settings. Impulse aus Praxis, Theorie und Forschung. Münster und New York: Waxmann; 2018.

Pfeifer E. Intercultural Music Therapy Research and Practice at Schools. Music Therapy Today. Proceedings 14. World Congress of Music Therapy. Special Issue. Summer 2014; 10: 184–185. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2017.

Pfeifer E. Europe on the move: music therapy accompanying children with and without migration backgrounds. Nord. J. Music Ther. 2016; 25: 58.

Weber EW, Spychiger M, Patry JL. Musik macht Schule: Biografie und Ergebnisse eines Schulversuchs mit erweitertem Musikunterricht. Essen: Verlag Die Blaue Eule; 1993.





Full Length Articles