Abstract Thesis PhD

Abstract Thesis PhD Fiammetta Facchini


The case study looked at psychological and physiological responses to stress in musicians, comparing a newly formed and a consolidated violin-piano duo. The common element between these duos was the pianist. Using the psychological tests (STAI Y1 and Y2, K-MPAI, MMPI-2, ICAC), the immunoassay saliva test to measure cortisol (stress hormone) and non- invasive device VitalJacket® developed at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, participants were monitored under various performance conditions. Others quantitative and qualitative dataset were collected including a pianist’s personal diary (analyzed by psychiatrist), semi-structured interviews with members of long-terms chamber music duo and perceptual evaluations (listening test) of the performances by expert listeners. The variables included two performance venues (European university and secondary school), as well as well-known repertoire, recently known repertoire and newly known repertoire. The latter was given approximately one week before each recital. The psychological and physiological dataset were collected for a total of eight recitals – two series of four recitals each. The unexpected results show that state anxiety levels and stress of the pianist, who does not present an anxious profile, either in social or in musical terms, are always higher when playing with a well-known partner. Possible explanations may be due to the highest expectations for quality of performance and implications of mirror neurons (since the reactions are very different according to the partner). In other words, the “known” (i.e., the consolidated duo) can become “trapped” within a predetermined space, especially at the psychological level, while the “unknown” (the occasional duo) seems to be less involved and therefore more reassuring and exciting in positive terms. In addition, the preference of the expert audience is for the consolidated duo.

Abstract Thesis PhD Ludovico Tramma


The position of the body in the act of playing the violin is absolutely the “most unnatural” (Oddone, 2002). One of the most frequent problems of violinists and violists is represented by an excess of pressure from the fingers of the left hand on the fingerboard, rendering necessary the most efficient use of left hand technique and thereby optimal management between agonistic and antagonistic muscles. A literature review of the principal violin methods between the XVIII and XX centuries comes under consideration. This review has, in turn revealed a dearth of specific exercises that would alert the left hand in terms of contraction and relaxation. Between all the methods considered there is at least one – written by Francesco Sfilio, an Italian violinist and pedagogue from the XX century – that contain interesting “mute exercises” (Esercizi Muti) without the bow, that heighten awareness of the left hand finger movements. The principal objectives of this thesis are threefold: to verify whether some of the exercises of Sfilio’s Method help to improve the self-awareness of tension in the left hand and consequently diminish it; to furnish an historical/biographic portrait of Sfilio – excellent performer and pedagogue, largely forgotten after World War Two; to verify if there is a correlation between anxiety, by way of psychological tests and muscular tension. The positive results, obtained during the course of an Experimental Study, encouraged further studies in this direction, showing that 86% of the participants involved benefited from the application of Sfilio’s Method.