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The pathway to excellence: the role of psychological characteristics in negotiating the challenges of musical development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2006

Áine MacNamara
Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, University of Limerick, Ireland
Patricia Holmes
Faculty of Academic Studies, Trinity College of Music, King Charles Court, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9JF, UK
Dave Collins
UK Athletics, Blythe Valley Park, Solihull B90 8AJ,, and


The pathway to excellence is turbulent and aspiring musicians must cope with the ‘ebb and flow’ of development if they are to realise their potential. With this in mind, internationally renowned musicians were interviewed in order to identify the challenges of each stage of musical development and the psychological characteristics that can enable aspiring musicians to sustain this developmental process. Results suggest that while certain psychological characteristics are salient throughout the career and facilitate continued development, others are especially important at key stages and critically at key transitions. This research satisfies more than academic interest, as findings should sensibly inform music educators about the skills and characteristics required by aspiring musicians at key stages during the learning process.

Research Article
2006 Cambridge University Press

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