Like Chopin, never play it the same way twice. This article from Bulletproof Musician is fabulous. The popular posts on the right side bar look great as well.
More engaged musicians
A trio of researchers (including conductor Timothy Russell) ran a study
to see if a more mindful approach to performance would be a) more
engaging and enjoyable to the musicians, and b) preferable (and
noticeable) to listeners as well.
To test their hypothesis, they recruited 60 members of a college
orchestra to perform the finale from Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 two times.
The first time, the conductor gave the orchestra the following
instructions: “Think about the finest performance of this piece that you
can remember, and play it that way.”
This was the control condition – where musicians were given an
aspirational and presumably motivational goal, but a comparatively
passive goal, geared more towards recreating a performance than creating it anew in the moment.
Before the second performance (the experimental condition), the
musicians were instructed to “Play this piece in the finest manner you
can, offering subtle new nuances to your performance.” The idea with
these instructions was to get the musicians to be more present and
mindful, to think more creatively and spontaneously in the moment,
and be more improvisational in their performance.
To gauge the impact of these two sets of instructions on the
performers’ level of engagement, the musicians were asked to rate their
enjoyment of the performance after each run-through.
Not surprisingly, musicians rated the more mindful, improvisational
performance as being more enjoyable. The results suggest that being more
actively involved in creating something new is more engaging than
striving to recreate something from the past.