Paul Evans, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Performing music is both a joy and a discipline. In this chapter we review the basic tenets of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as they apply to developing interest and expertise in music performance, and the growing evidence concerning how parents, educators, mentors, and professional pressures can facilitate or undermine musicians enjoyment, persistence, and performance. SDT provides a framework for understanding both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that underlie music performance, and their dynamics in educational and professional contexts. Applying the theory, we discuss the near-universal, intrinsically motivated nature of performing music, and why some individuals develop that interest into an identity or vocation. In addition, SDT provides a framework for understanding extrinsic motivation in performance contexts, including how performers internalize the motivation to persist at the less intrinsically enjoyable but nonetheless essential aspects of learning and practice. The theory argues that both intrinsic motivation and internalization are strongly affected by the fulfillment of basic psychological needs, which can be supported by teachers and mentors. We review evidence on this idea and discuss the implications of such research in the context of music education and music performance. Finally, we highlight some areas in need of more refined research and evidence-based interventions in this important domain.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Music Performance
Subtitle of host publicationDevelopment and Learning, Proficiencies, Performance Practices, and Psychology: Volume 1
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780190056285
ISBN (Print)9780190056315
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2022. All rights reserved


  • internalization
  • motivation
  • music
  • music education
  • music performance
  • practice
  • psychological needs
  • self-determination theory


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