To Think or Not To Think: The apparent paradox of expert skill in music performance

Educational Philosophy and Theory 46 (6):674-691 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Expert skill in music performance involves an apparent paradox. On stage, expert musicians are required accurately to retrieve information that has been encoded over hours of practice. Yet they must also remain open to the demands of the ever-changing situational contingencies with which they are faced during performance. To further explore this apparent paradox and the way in which it is negotiated by expert musicians, this article profiles theories presented by Roger Chaffin, Hubert Dreyfus and Tony and Helga Noice. For Chaffin, expert skill in music performance relies solely upon overarching mental representations, while, for Dreyfus, such representations are needed only by novices, while experts rely on a more embodied form of coping. Between Chaffin and Dreyfus sit the Noices, who argue that both overarching cognitive structures and embodied processes underlie expert skill. We then present the Applying Intelligence to the Reflexes approach—a differently nuanced model of expert skill aligned with the integrative spirit of the Noices’ research. The AIR approach suggests that musicians negotiate the apparent paradox of expert skill via a mindedness that allows flexibility of attention during music performance. We offer data from recent doctoral research conducted by the first author of this article to demonstrate at a practical level the usefulness of the AIR approach when attempting to understand the complexities of expert skill in music performance.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,038

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Expanding Expertise: Investigating a Musician’s Experience of Music Performance.Andrew Geeves, Doris Mcllwain, John Sutton & Wayne Christensen - 2010 - ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science:106-113.
Cultivating Practical Wisdom.Jason Swartwood - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota
Considering the role of cognitive control in expert performance.John Toner, Barbara Gail Montero & Aidan Moran - 2015 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (4):1127-1144.
Philosophical and Psychological Accounts of Expertise and Experts.Matt Stichter - 2015 - Humana.Mente - Journal of Philosophical Studies 28:105-128.
The Performance-Pedagogy Paradox in Choral Music Teaching.Patrick K. Freer - 2011 - Philosophy of Music Education Review 19 (2):164-178.


Added to PP

13 (#1,037,980)

6 months
5 (#641,756)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Citations of this work

Framing a phenomenological interview: what, why and how.Simon Høffding & Kristian Martiny - 2016 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (4):539-564.
Mind the notebook.Gloria Andrada - 2019 - Synthese (5):4689-4708.
Enculturating folk psychologists.Victoria McGeer - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1039-1063.
Memory as Skill.Seth Goldwasser - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (3):833-856.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations