Enabling Self-Understanding to Support Wellbeing

A Healthy Performer Case Study

By helping to develop musicians’ self-understanding through the use of Intelligent Behaviour Analytics®, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is working to support their student’s health and wellbeing.

The challenge

For musicians to give their best in performance, and to maintain high levels of intrinsic health and wellbeing, it is both necessary and essential to find effective ways to sustain levels of confidence and resilience at a personal level. In preparing for the rigours of a musician’s professional life, it is understandable that a proportion of students may experience anxiety (general and/or performance-based), challenges with motivation and practice, and reduced levels of confidence.

Most performers are familiar with how the experience of giving a live performance may differ when compared with working in the practice room. For some, the exhilaration and excitement of live performance can add a welcome edge, immediacy and frisson to their playing. However, for others, the added pressure, fear of failure and judgement can have a detrimental impact on their performances. By enabling performance students to understand better their own unique individuality, the emotional wellbeing of performers can be better supported.

The approach

In response to this challenge, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) offers all music students the chance to participate in a new, innovative and practically-based programme, designed to help develop an individual’s fundamental level of self-understanding, raise their confidence, and increase the ability of students to understand and maximise their own potential. This programme is made up of the following three elements:

1. Stages drawn from Intelligent Behaviour Analytics (IBA)®, providing:

  • An understanding and knowledge of a students’ own behavioural needs and emotional responses. This begins with the completion of an IBA® report and is then supported and developed through six interactive and practically-based classroom sessions, in addition to one-to-one tutorials.
  • Awareness of the different ways in which a student prefers to interact with the world around them and process their experiences.

2. Using the following proverb as a basis, students explore the importance of balance in both their everyday lives and approaches to music performance: 

  • ‘Everyone is a house with four rooms: a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.’

3. Music performance-specific tools and techniques to help address anxiety, preparation, practice, and mental outlook.

All individuals are influenced and affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by past life experiences and their interactions with others. These experiences, depending on their impact, can affect one’s ability to perform, to reach one’s potential and, for a minority, may affect levels of wellbeing in their everyday lives. The RBC programme also seeks to give students the tools to understand themselves and others better and, in doing so, to provide answers as to why some techniques and approaches may have a greater probability of working for them and why others, less so. By addressing how students interact with others, this element of the programme also helps to support the social wellbeing of students.

Students who have taken part in the RBC programme have used their newfound self-knowledge, and the space provided, to reflect on past events and experiences with greater clarity. In turn, this has enabled them to understand better the impact that these experiences may have had on their lives in general, as well as on their developing careers as performers.

This case study fosters

Emotional Wellbeing


Spiritual Wellbeing


Social Wellbeing


Learn more

Watch the IBA® Global Leadership Conference: The road to resilience in a Covid-19 world (Including a video interview with Professor Adam Crizzle and RBC Senior Lecturer, Katharine Lam, about the IBA®/RBC programme).

Visit the Birmingham City University website, which shows some of the different applications of Intelligent Behaviour Analytics®.

TEDx talk: Help me! I’m only human by Professor Adam Crizzle.

Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh Podcast: Resilience by Professor Paul Coulter.

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