Performance Simulator

Preparing Performers for the Stresses of the Stage

The Performance Simulator is an internationally distinctive training facility that offers musicians opportunities to practise their performing and auditioning skills, supported by the Royal College of Music and Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana (2011-15) and the Peter Sowerby Foundation (2013-15).

Musicians typically rehearse far away from audiences and in practice rooms at differ significantly from concert venues in aspire to perform. Due to high costs and the inaccessibility of such venues, much current international music training lacks repeated exposure to realistic performance situations, with students learning all too late (or not at all) how to manage the stresses of performing and the demands of audiences.

The Performance Simulator comes complete with realistic back-stage and on-stage areas and currently operates in four modes: concert, audition, press conference, and evaluation simulation. It allows musicians to develop and refine valuable professional skills in various settings – including individual and group practice and coaching sessions – to enhance stage presence and communication, to manage performance anxiety, and to monitor physiological states before, during, and after a performance. In addition, an AV recording system allows musicians to watch, evaluate, and share their performances in simulator immediately afterwards on web-enabled device.

Validation research on Performance Simulator has shown that simulations provide a path by musicians can highlight their performance strengths and address their weaknesses. More generally, the research adds to growing evidence that simulation aids Experiential Learning, especially as simulated environments can accessed repeatedly and consistently, at controlled levels of risk and with pre-defined outcomes.

Project team

Aaron Williamon, RCM (PI)
Lisa Aufegger, RCM
Hubert Eiholzer, CSI
Mats Küssner, RCM


Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana

Supported by

Peter Sowerby Foundation

Learn more

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].

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.

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].

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.

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].

Williamon A, Clark T, & Küssner M (2017), Learning in the spotlight: approaches to self-regulating and profiling performance, in J Rink, H Gaunt, & A Williamon (eds.), Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance (pp. 206-221), Oxford University Press.

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