Aaron WilliamonProfessor of Performance Science
Royal College of Music

Aaron Williamon is Professor of Performance Science at the Royal College of Music, where he directs the Centre for Performance Science. His research focuses on skilled performance and applied scientific initiatives that inform music learning and teaching, as well as the impact of music and the arts on society.

Aaron is founder of the International Symposium on Performance Science, chief editor of Performance Science (a specialty section of Frontiers) and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the UK’s Higher Education Academy. In 2008, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Music.

Email: aaron.williamon@rcm.ac.uk

Current projects

Art for Ages
Musical Impact
Optimal Music Performance
Sing with Us
Time to Decide



Cruder C, Falla D, Mangili F, Azzimonti L, Araújo L, Williamon A, & Barbero M (forthcoming), Profiling the location and extent of musicians’ pain using digital pain drawings, Pain Practice [DOI].

Rink J, Gaunt H, & Williamon A (eds.) (forthcoming), Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance, Oxford University Press.

Volioti G & Williamon A (forthcoming), Recordings as learning and practising resources for performance: exploring attitudes and behaviours of music students and professionals, Musicae Scientiae [DOI].

Williamon A, Clark T, & Küssner M (forthcoming), Learning in the spotlight: approaches to practising, profiling and enhancing performance skills, in J Rink, H Gaunt, & A Williamon (eds.), Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance, Oxford University Press.


Ascenso S, Williamon A, & Perkins R (2017), Understanding the psychological wellbeing of professional musicians through the lens of positive psychology, Psychology of Music, 45, 65-81 [DOI].

Aufegger L, Perkins R, Wasley D, & Williamon A (2017), Musicians’ perceptions and experiences of using simulation training to develop performance skills, Psychology of Music, 45, 417-431 [DOI].

Chanwimalueang T, Aufegger L, Adjei T, Wasley D, Cruder C, Mandic DP, & Williamon A (2017), Stage call: cardiovascular reactivity to audition stress in musicians, PLOS One12 (e0176023), 1-14 [DOI].

Perkins R, Reid H, Araújo L, Clark T, & Williamon A (2017), Perceived enablers and barriers to optimal health among music students: a qualitative study in the music conservatoire setting, Frontiers in Psychology, 8 (968), 1-15 [DOI].

Waddell G & Williamon A (2017), Eye of the beholder: stage entrance behavior and facial expression affect continuous quality ratings in music performance, Frontiers in Psychology, 8 (513), 1-14 [DOI] [VIDEO].

Waddell G & Williamon A (2017), Measuring the audience, in S Lee (ed.), Scholarly Research for Musicians (pp. 148-155), Routledge.


Alessandri E, Williamson VJ, Eiholzer H, & Williamon A (2016), A critical ear: analysis of value judgments in reviews of Beethoven’s piano sonata recordings, Frontiers in Psychology, 7 (391), 1-17 [DOI].

Aufegger L, Wasley D, & Williamon A (2016), Facing the music: investigating the psychophysiology of musical performance, in A Mornell (ed.), Art in Motion III: Performing Under Pressure (pp. 77-92), Peter Lang.

Biasutti M, Concina E, Wasley D, & Williamon A (2016), Music regulators in two string quartets: a comparison of communicative behaviors between low- and high-stress performance conditions, Frontiers in Psychology, 7 (1229), 1-10 [DOI].

Fancourt D, Burton T, & Williamon A (2016), The razor’s edge: Australian rock music impairs men’s performance when pretending to be a surgeon, Medical Journal of Australia205, 515-518 [DOI].

Fancourt D, Perkins R, Ascenso S, Atkins L, Kilfeather S, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, & Williamon A (2016), Group drumming modulates cytokine response in mental health service users: a preliminary study, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85, 53-55 [DOI].

Fancourt D, Perkins R, Ascenso S, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, & Williamon A (2016), Effects of group drumming interventions on anxiety, depression, social resilience and inflammatory immune response among mental health service users, PLOS One, 11 (e0151136), 1-16 [DOI] [VIDEO].

Fancourt D & Williamon A (2016), Attending a concert reduces glucocorticoids, progesterone and the cortisol/DHEA ratio, Public Health, 132, 101-104 [DOI].

Fancourt D, Williamon A, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, Dow R, & Lewis I (2016), Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers, e-Cancer Medical Science, 10 (631), 1-13 [DOI] [VIDEO].

McPherson GE & Williamon A (2016), Building gifts into musical talents, in GE McPherson (ed.), The Child as Musician: A Handbook of Musical Development (2e, pp. 340-360), Oxford University Press.

Perkins R, Ascenso S, Atkins L, Fancourt D, & Williamon A (2016), Making music for mental health: how group drumming mediates recovery, Psychology of Well-Being, 6 (11), 1-17 [DOI].


Alessandri E, Williamson VJ, Eiholzer H, & Williamon A (2015), Beethoven recordings reviewed: a systematic method for mapping the content of music performance criticism, Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (57), 1-14 [DOI].

Clark T & Williamon A (2015), Applications within performance psychology, in M Raab, B Lobinger, S Hoffmann, A Pizzera, & S Laborde (eds.), Performance Psychology: A Scientific Guide across Perception, Action, Cognition, and Emotion (pp. 45-63), Academic Press.

Fancourt D, Aufegger L, & Williamon A (2015), Low-stress and high-stress singing have contrasting effects on glucocorticoid response, Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (1242), 1-5 [DOI].

Küssner MB, Aufegger L, Eiholzer H, & Williamon A (2015), Der Performance Simulator: Entwicklung und Evaluation eines Trainingsangebots für Musiker am Royal College of Music [The performance simulator: development and evaluation of a training facility for musicians at the Royal College of Music], in W Auhagen, C Bullerjahn, Rv Georgi (eds.), Jahrbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Musikpsychologie, Band 25 [Yearbook of the German Society for Music Psychology, Vol. 25] (pp. 159-169), Hogrefe.

Perkins R, Aufegger L, & Williamon A (2015), Learning through teaching: exploring what conservatoire students learn from teaching beginner older adults, International Journal of Music Education, 33, 80-90 [DOI].

Williamon A & Miura M (eds.) (2015), Abstracts of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2015, Ryukoku University [ISBN 9784904945605].


Alessandri E, Eiholzer H, & Williamon A (2014), Reviewing critical practice: an analysis of Gramophone’s reviews of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, 1923-2010, Musicae Scientiae, 18, 131-149 [DOI].

Clark T, Lisboa T, & Williamon A (2014), An investigation into musicians’ thoughts and perceptions during performance, Research Studies in Music Education, 36, 19-37 [DOI].

Clark T, Lisboa T, & Williamon A (2014), Learning to be an instrumental musician, in I Papageorgi & G Welch (eds.), Advanced Musical Performance: Investigations in Higher Education Learning (pp. 287-300), Ashgate.

Perkins R & Williamon A (2014), Learning to make music in older adulthood: a mixed-methods exploration of impacts on wellbeing, Psychology of Music, 42, 550-567 [DOI] [VIDEO].

Williamon A (2014), Implications for education, in D Fabian, R Timmers, & E Schubert (eds.), Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures (pp. 348-351), Oxford University Press.

Williamon A, Aufegger L, & Eiholzer H (2014), Simulating and stimulating performance: introducing distributed simulation to enhance musical learning and performance, Frontiers in Psychology, 5 (25), 1-9 [DOI] [VIDEO].


Clark T, Williamon A, & Redding E (2013), The value of health screening in music schools and conservatoires, Clinical Rheumatology, 32, 497-500 [DOI].

Ritchie L & Williamon A (2013), Measuring musical self-regulation: linking processes, skills, and beliefs, Journal of Education and Training Studies, 1, 106-117 [DOI].

Williamon A, Aufegger L, Wasley D, Looney D, & Mandic DP (2013), Complexity of physiological responses decreases in high stress musical performance, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 10 (89), 1-6 [DOI].

Williamon A & Goebl W (eds.) (2013), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2013, European Association of Conservatoires [ISBN 9782960137804].

Wöllner C, Ginsborg J, & Williamon A (2013), Familiarity and reflexivity in the research process, in E King & H Daynes (eds.), Music and Familiarity: Listening, Musicology, and Performance (pp. 175-195), Ashgate.


Clark T & Williamon A (2012), Imagining the music: methods for assessing musical imagery ability, Psychology of Music, 40, 471-493 [DOI].

Clark T, Williamon A, & Aksentijevic A (2012), Musical imagery and imagination: the function, measurement, and application of imagery skills for performance, in DJ Hargreaves, DE Miell, & RAR MacDonald (eds.), Musical Imaginations: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Creativity, Performance, and Perception (pp. 351-365), Oxford University Press.

Ginsborg J, Spahn C, & Williamon A (2012), Health promotion in higher music education, in RAR MacDonald, G Kreutz, & L Mitchell (eds.), Music, Health, and Wellbeing (pp. 356-366), Oxford University Press.

Ritchie L & Williamon A (2012), Self-efficacy as a predictor of musical performance quality, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6, 334-340 [DOI].

Wasley D, Taylor A, Backx K, & Williamon A (2012), Influence of fitness and physical activity on cardiovascular reactivity to musical performance, Work, 41, 27-32 [DOI].

Williamon A, Perkins R, Ritchie L, & Thompson S (2012), Premiers pas en musique: étude de l’engagement des enfants vis-à-vis de la musique [Musical beginnings: a study of children’s engagement with music], in M Richelle & R Wangermée (eds.), Musique et Sciences de l’esprit [Music and the Sciences of the Mind] (pp. 123-137), Académie Royale de Belgique [Royal Academy of Belgium].


Clark T & Williamon A (2011), Evaluation of a mental skills training program for musicians, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23, 342-359 [DOI].

Ritchie L & Williamon A (2011), Measuring distinct types of musical self-efficacy, Psychology of Music, 39, 328-344 [DOI].

Ritchie L & Williamon A (2011), Primary school children’s self-efficacy for music learning, Journal of Research in Music Education, 59, 146-161 [DOI].

Williamon A, Edwards D, & Bartel L (eds.) (2011), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2011, European Association of Conservatoires [ISBN 9789490306021].

Wöllner C, Ginsborg J, & Williamon A (2011), Music researchers’ musical engagement, Psychology of Music, 39, 364-382 [DOI].


Ginsborg J, Kreutz G, Thomas M, & Williamon A (2009), Healthy behaviours in music and non-music performance students, Health Education, 109, 242-258 [DOI].

Kreutz G, Ginsborg J, & Williamon A (2009), Health-promoting behaviours in conservatoire students, Psychology of Music, 37, 47-60 [DOI].

Rosenkranz K, Butler K, Williamon A, & Rothwell JC (2009), Regaining motor control in musician’s dystonia by restoring sensorimotor organization, Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 14627-14636 [DOI].

Williamon A, Pretty S, & Buck R (eds.) (2009), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2009, European Association of Conservatoires [ISBN 9789490306014].


Kreutz G, Ginsborg J, & Williamon A (2008), Music students’ health problems and health-promoting behaviors, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 23, 3-11.

Rosenkranz K, Butler K, Williamon A, Cordivari C, Lees AJ, & Rothwell JC (2008), Sensorimotor reorganization by proprioceptive training in musician’s dystonia and writer’s cramp, Neurology, 70, 304-315 [DOI].

Stewart L & Williamon A (2008), What are the implications of neuroscience for musical education? Educational Research, 50, 177-186 [DOI].


Thompson S, Williamon A, & Valentine E (2007), Time-dependent characteristics of performance evaluation, Music Perception, 25, 13-29 [DOI].

Rosenkranz K, Williamon A, & Rothwell JC (2007), Motorcortical excitability and synaptic plasticity is enhanced in professional musicians, Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 5200-5206 [DOI].

Williamon A (2007), The art of musical memory, Studien zur Wertungsforschung, 47, 30-41.

Williamon A & Coimbra D (eds.) (2007), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2007, European Association of Conservatoires [ISBN 9789090224848].

Wöllner C & Williamon A (2007), An exploratory study of the role of performance feedback and musical imagery in piano playing, Research Studies in Music Education, 29, 39-54 [DOI].


McPherson GE & Williamon A (2006), Giftedness and talent, in GE McPherson (ed.), The Child as Musician: A Handbook of Musical Development (pp. 239-256), Oxford University Press.

Williamon A & Thompson S (2006), Awareness and incidence of health problems among conservatoire students, Psychology of Music, 34, 411-430 [DOI].

Williamon A, Thompson S, Lisboa T, & Wiffen C (2006), Creativity, originality, and value in music performance, in I Deliège & G Wiggins (eds.), Musical Creativity: Multidisciplinary Research in Theory and Practice (pp. 161-180), Psychology Press.


Lisboa T, Williamon A, Zicari M, & Eiholzer H (2005), Mastery through imitation: a preliminary study, Musicae Scientiae, 9, 75-110 [DOI].

Rosenkranz K, Williamon A, Butler K, Cordivari C, Lees AJ, & Rothwell JC (2005), Pathophysiological differences between musician’s dystonia and writer’s cramp, Brain, 128, 918-931 [DOI].


Williamon A (ed.) (2004), Musical Excellence: Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance, Oxford University Press [ISBN 9780198525356].

Williamon A & Egner T (2004), Memory structures for encoding and retrieving a piece of music: an ERP investigation, Cognitive Brain Research, 22, 36-44 [DOI].

Williamon A & Thompson S (2004), Psychology and the music practitioner, in JW Davidson (ed.), The Music Practitioner: Research for the Music Performer, Teacher, and Listener (pp. 9-26), Ashgate.


Lindström E, Juslin PN, Bresin R, & Williamon A (2003), ‘Expressivity comes from within your soul’: a questionnaire study of music students’ perspectives on expressivity, Research Studies in Music Education, 20, 23-47 [DOI].

Thompson S & Williamon A (2003), Evaluating evaluation: musical performance assessment as a research tool, Music Perception, 21, 21-41 [DOI].


Aiello R & Williamon A (2002), Memory, in R Parncutt & GE McPherson (eds.), The Science and Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and Learning (pp. 167-181), Oxford University Press.

Williamon A (2002), Memorising music, in J Rink (ed.), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (pp. 113-126), Cambridge University Press.

Williamon A & Davidson JW (2002), Exploring co-performer communication, Musicae Scientiae, 6, 53-72 [DOI].

Williamon A & Valentine E (2002), The role of retrieval structures in memorizing music, Cognitive Psychology, 44, 1-32 [DOI].

Williamon A, Valentine E, & Valentine J (2002), Shifting the focus of attention between levels of musical structure, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 14, 493-520 [DOI].


Williamon A & Valentine E (2000), Quantity and quality of musical practice as predictors of performance quality, British Journal of Psychology, 91, 353-376 [DOI].


Williamon A (1999), The value of performing from memory, Psychology of Music, 27, 84-95 [DOI].