Research Seminar. John Sloboda: Understanding the concert experience: implications for research and artistic practice

Wednesday 30 January 2019, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor John Sloboda, OBE, FBA, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London

A major context for audience research and development in classical music is an observed long-term decline in public attendance at classical music concerts. Since live performance is at the heart of classical performance training and practice, this decline presents challenges for the profession. What do audiences seek from live concert experience, and why do many classical concerts fail to provide this?

It is proposed that positive interventions are those which allow deeper and more active engagement with the musical content and process, and human contact between audience members and musicians. A flexible conceptual framework to understand these effects is proposed. This framework can guide innovations in concert practice and further research.

This presentation will show how this framework has been applied to a range of artist-involved research projects undertaken within the "Understanding Audiences" programme of the Guildhall School London. The projects have involved augmenting audience engagement before, during, and after a concert, and evaluating the impact on both musicians and audience. Enhancements before a concert include observing a rehearsal, and participating in discussions between artists. Enhancements during a concert include improvisatory interactions, planned repetition of new works, and audience participation in performance. Enhancements after a concert include feedback mechanisms, and artist-audience dialogue. Enhancing audience-audience sociability is also a facilitating mechanism.

John Sloboda

Professor John Sloboda is Research Professor at the Guildhall School, where he directs its Understanding Audiences research programme. He is also Emeritus Professor at Keele and was a staff member of the School of Psychology at Keele from 1974-2008, where he was Director of its Unit for the Study of Musical Skill and Development, founded in 1991.

John is internationally known for his work on the psychology of music. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and has been President of both the Psychology and General Sections of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as President of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, where he has served on the editorial board of its journal Musicae Scientiae. He is a member of the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research, and was Editor-in-Chief of its journal Psychology of Music from 1985-1989.

He was the recipient of the 1998 British Psychological Society's Presidents Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge, and in 2004 he was elected to Fellowship of the British Academy. At present he is the first and only Fellow working in the UK conservatoire sector. In 2018, he was awarded an OBE for his services to psychology and music.

John has been Honorary Consultant to the AHRC Centre for Music Performance as Creative Practice, a network participant in Theatrum Mundi and a contributing researcher to the AHRC Knowledge Exchange Hub Creativeworks London. He was also a member of the Senior Management Group of the think-tank Oxford Research Group and co-founder of the Iraq Body Count Project, in which he retains active ongoing engagement, as well as co-directing the charity Every Casualty Worldwide.

His books include Handbook of Music and Emotion (co-edited with Patrik Juslin), and Exploring the Musical Mind, both published by Oxford University Press. 

Location: D/003, Sally Baldwin D Block