Fluctuating emotions and motivation: five stages of the rehearsal and performance process

Andrew Thomas Sutherland, Jane Southcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Participating in large-scale musical performances as part of a secondary school ensemble can be exhilarating. Although students experience such events differently, emotional state is not uniform throughout the process. Developing musicians may put themselves under pressure to perform well and once the event is over, the feelings of anxiety and anticipation are replaced by relief, euphoria or in some cases, melancholy. These emotional reactions can impact the desire to attend subsequent rehearsals and performance projects. Three student members of a school choir reflected on their emotional state from the early part of the rehearsal process to the post-event period. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed and thematically analysed. Findings address the five phases of the performance process: early rehearsals, later rehearsals, the performance, immediately after the event, and the aftermath. Recommendations for secondary school music ensemble conductors encourage lifelong learning of adolescent ensemble musicians through understanding fluctuating emotions connected with performance.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Music Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Adolescents
  • emotions
  • ensembles
  • motivation
  • performance

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