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Amsterdam Conference: Managing your Talents – Interdisciplinary Research on the Performing Arts (29-30 Aug 2013)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on August 28, 2013

August 29 and 30 2013, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam will host the international conference Managing your Talents – Interdisciplinary Research on the Performing Arts.


This conference makes for a unique gathering of people whose expertise will be called upon to achieve a new standard of educational excellence in the performing arts. It is a must-go for those who are involved with music, dance or theatre, and who seek to share their interest with researchers from a broad range of disciplines, such as performing arts pedagogy, medicine, neuropsychology, brain and cognition sciences, and human movement sciences.

Conservatorium-Amsterdam-Logo-1The conference will mark a new partnership between De Theaterschool, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, and VU University. These four institutions aim to share their knowledge in the field of the artistic disciplines and the pedagogical, biomedical and cognitive sciences with a view to strengthen the education and guidance of performing artists. The development of a common research agenda is of vital importance to a sector in which extraordinary tasks have to be accomplished under the public gaze. Conservatories and dance academies, but also orchestras and theatre companies will benefit from this research.

The conference will serve as a first joint exploration. The programme is structured around four themes:

* Talent
* Excellence
* Practicing
* (Over)load

The main language during the conference will be English.


In this session we will raise the question what talent is, when and how to spot it, and how to foster and develop it. We will collect relevant insights from diverse areas of inquiry and confront these with a number of case studies. The historical dimension will not be forgotten. In the arts, talent has long been indefinable. Paradoxically, this was seen as one of its defining characteristics. On the other hand, performing artists have to meet concrete criteria when they want to join an orchestra, ensemble or company; and the arts are buttressed by formal education. How has the need to compare and select artists for job positions and to formulate educational goals for art schools affected the notion of talent?


For performing complex tasks under great pressure, so as to offer critical audiences a unique experience, stage artists have no equals – except athletes. Knowledge of the ways in which to prepare the human body and mind for such great achievements may be beneficial to other sectors of society. However, in the arts this knowledge is only implicit, or just not available in an organized form. Researchers in the sports have been more successful in coming to grips with it; but then sporting achievements are often quantifiable. What does excellence mean in the performing arts? In this session we will speak about the relevance of sports research for the performing arts; but we will also consider what the latter may contribute to the emerging science of ‘peak performance’.


Practice is the complement of talent. One yields nothing without the other. But what do we practice, and how? Practicing methods often bear the stamp of tradition and experience – they are prescribed on the authority of the already successful. However, the relation between method and success is fuzzy. What do we know about the range and effects of particular forms of practicing behavior? In this session we will look for substantial information that may shed a light on training practices in different sectors of the performing arts.


What performing artists do for a living makes great demands on their mental and physical condition. The art of performing is at the same time the art of staying healthy. There are many methods of prevention and therapies for recovery – so many, in fact, that it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Although artists may find help and encouragement in these methods and therapies, their scientific underpinnings are not always transparent. This session revolves around two main questions: do performing art schools have sufficient in-house expertise to provide a coherent and effective resilience programme? And can the health sciences offer adequate answers to questions emerging from artistic practice?


bookmark: Healthy Musicianship; Prevention, Cures and Challenges in Musician’s Medicine (download from here)

Eckart Altenmüller (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)

Performing music at a professional level is one of the most complex of human accomplishments. Societal pressures and the overall increasing level of expertise and performance technique require students to work hard and to develop skills which are not only related to playing, but also to emotional communication and self-management. It therefore is essential to teach future instrumental teachers and performing musicians on one side to recognize and prevent performance related injuries, on the other side to have sufficient drive and vitality to express emotions and joyfulness in making music.

In the lecture, I will present the program we have developed in Hannover. It aims at preventing injuries and provides skills which are necessary to improve self-management, emotional communication and knowledge about the meaning of music in our society.

Lecture: Healthy musicianship: prevention, cures and challenges in musician's medicine (Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller. Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)

Download fully Lecture from here: Healthy musicianship: prevention, cures and challenges in musician’s medicine (Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller. Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)

The program includes information about the pathophysiology of injuries caused by instrumental playing and offers a prevention program including body-relaxation techniques, performance training and management of anxieties. Biological foundations of music making and music perception are taught. The main foci here are sensorimotor aspects of music playing, motor learning, musculoskeletal injuries, performance anxiety, hearing, protection of hearing, and central nervous auditory processing. We offer small group seminars for instrumentalists in a “hands-on” format. The main aspects are movement sciences, motor learning, and efficiency in practicing.

With these courses we work on four major lines:

* Teaching the basics of music physiology and musicians’ medicine.
* Research into the physiological and neurobiological principles of professional music performance and music perception
* Research into the causes of occupational injuries in musicians.
* Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of such injuries.

Selected case studies and practical propositions are presented in the end of my lecture.

Friday, August 30, 14.45-15.30
Thematic Session 4: (over)load

Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller

Prof. Dr. Eckart Altenmüller

eckart altenmüller
Eckart Altenmüller is a full university professor and medical doctor, and has an active research and concert career. He graduated in Medicine and in Music at the University of Freiburg, where he obtained is concert diploma in the master classes of Aurèle Nicolèt and William Bennett. His clinical training was in the Department of Neurology in Freiburg and Tübingen as a neurologist and neurophysiologist. In 1994, he became Chair and Director of the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine at Hannover University of Music and Drama, a position he has held for the past 19 years. In this role, he has continued his research into sensory-motor learning and movement disorders in musicians. Dr. Altenmüller is Member of the prestigious Göttingen Academy of Sciences since 2005 and President of the German Society for Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicine 2005-2011, Vice-President since then.

More information about Eckart Altenmüller:
* Eckart Altenmüller’s undefinedInstitut für Musikphysiologie und Musikermedizin


Fully Programme…

Please find below the programme for the present. Updates will be posted here regularly.

thursday, august 29
09.00-09.45 Sign up at registration desk

10.00-10.15 Welcome

thematic session 1: talent
10.15-11.00 Susan Hallam (University of London)
Musical talent: conceptualisation, identification and development

11.00-11.45 Chris Visscher (RU Groningen)
No Goals, No Glory

12.00-12.30 Marjès Benoist (Sweelinck Academy, the young talents department of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam), with Aidan Mikdad (11 years old)

12.30-14.00 lunch

thematic session 2: excellence
14.00-14.45 Erik Scherder (VU University, Amsterdam)
Cognitive reserve, music, and sports

14.45-15.30 Roger Kneebone (Imperial College London)
Performing Surgery

15.45-16.15 Jan Kouwenhoven (speaker), Isabel Vaz (cello) en Jaap Kooi (piano)
Behind the Curtain: Audition Training at the Conservatory of Amsterdam

16.15-16.45 Tea break

keynote lecture
16:45-17:30 Henkjan Honing (University of Amsterdam)
Tip of the iceberg

17:30-17:45 Announcement: De Creatieve Geest Prijs 2014 (‘The Creative Mind Prize 2014’), an initiative of De Freek en Hella de Jonge Stichting

17.45-18.30 Drinks

From 18.30 Dinner

friday, august 30
10.00-10.15 Welcome

thematic session 3: practicing
10.15-11.00 Mariette Huizinga (VU University, Amsterdam)
Succesfull (self-)study: the role of cognitive and socio-emotional development

11.00-11.45 Julia Kursell (University of Amsterdam)
Measuring practice, 1890-1930

12.00-12.30 Christopher Powney (National Ballet Academy, Amsterdam), Ernst Meisner and The Junior Company.
Barre: a glimpse of dancers’ daily life

12.30-14.00 lunch

thematic session 4: (over)load
14.00-14.45 Jacques van Rossum (VU University, Amsterdam)
Monitoring overload in athletes and dancers

14.45-15.30 Eckart Altenmüller (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, Hannover)
Healthy musicianship: prevention, cures and challenges in musician’s medicine

15.45-16.15 Pauline Luth-Griffioen (International Dance Theatre)
Thoughts of a Dancer

16.15-16.45 Tea break

keynote lecture
16.45-17.45 Daniel Levitin (McGill University, Montréal)
Talent, practice, excellence, and the joy of music

(Source: 08/2013 – Conservatorium Amsterdam)

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