Zoning In

Zoning In aimed to assist music students in developing mental and physical skills for performance. Working with RCM teaching staff, the project team provided students with individually tailored training based on research from four areas:


Learned control of particular frequencies of brain activity associated with states of attention and relaxation.

Mental skills training

Cognitive-behavioural interventions derived from methods employed with elite sportspeople.

Physical activity and exercise

Individually-tailored physical training designed to reduce the effects of performance stress.

Alexander technique

A method of kinesthetic re-education aimed at eliminating unnecessary tension and developing efficient use of the body.

The work of Zoning In has had an impact both within the RCM and in the wider education community. Major outcomes of the project include undergraduate course units on musicians’ health and wellbeing, music psychology, and professional skills, as well as an edited book, numerous peer-reviewed articles, and international performance enhancement workshops.

Project team

Aaron Williamon, RCM (PI)
Christopher Connolly, SyCon
Tobias Egner, Imperial
John Gruzelier, Imperial
Adrian Taylor, DeMontfort
Sam Thompson, RCM
David Wasley, DeMontfort


DeMontfort University
Imperial College London
SyCon: The Sporting Bodymind Group

Supported by

Leverhulme Trust

Learn more


Williamon A (ed.) (2004), Musical Excellence, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198525356. (See Oxford University Press.)

Book chapters

Connolly C & Williamon A (2004), Mental skills training, in A. Williamon (ed.), Musical Excellence(pp. 221-245), Oxford University Press.

Gruzelier JH & Egner T (2004), Physiological self-regulation: Biofeedback and neurofeedback, in A. Williamon (ed.), Musical Excellence (pp. 197-219), Oxford University Press.

Taylor A & Wasley D (2004), Physical fitness, in A. Williamon (ed.), Musical Excellence (pp. 163-178), Oxford University Press.

Valentine E (2004), Alexander technique, in A. Williamon (ed.), Musical Excellence (pp. 179-195), Oxford University Press.

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.


Egner T & Gruzelier JH (2001), Learned self-regulation of EEG frequency components affects attention and event-related brain potentials in humans, NeuroReport, 12, 4155-4159.

Egner T, Strawson E, & Gruzelier JH (2002), EEG signature and phenomenology of alpha/theta neurofeedback training versus mock feedback, Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 27, 261-270.

Egner T & Gruzelier JH (2003), Ecological validity of neurofeedback: Modulation of slow wave EEG enhances musical performance, NeuroReport, 14, 1221-1224.

Egner T & Gruzelier JH (2004), EEG Biofeedback of low beta band components: Frequency-specific effects on variables of attention and event-related brain potentials, Clinical Neurophysiology, 115, 131-139.

Egner T & Gruzelier JH (2004), The temporal dynamics of electroencephalographic responses to alpha/theta neurofeedback training in healthy subjects, Journal of Neurotherapy, 8, 43-57.

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

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

Articles in professional music bulletins

Williamon A (2001), All in the mind? Pan: The Journal of the British Flute Society, 20(1), 31.

Egner T & Gruzelier JH (2001), A brainwave for musicians, Pan, 20(1), 32-33.

Connolly C (2001), Mental skills training, Pan, 20(2), 17-19.

Taylor AH (2001), Fit to perform, Pan, 20(3), 28-31.

Peak performance workshops

Zoning In: Motivating the Musical Mind (2002). A ten-day performance enhancement workshop for European music students, Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland).

Zoning In: Motivating the Musical Mind (2002). A two-day performance enhancement workshop for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Australia).

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