Managing Your Talents: Interdisciplinary Research on the Performing Arts

Conservatory of Amsterdam

Oosterdokskade 151

1011 DL Amsterdam

The Netherlands


August 29-30, 2013


This conference makes for a unique gathering of people whose expertise will be called upon to achieve a new standard of educational excellence in the performing arts. It is a must for those who are involved with music, dance or theatre, and who seek to share their interest with researchers from a broad range of disciplines, such as performing arts pedagogy, medicine, neuropsychology, brain and cognition sciences, and human motion sciences.


The programme is structured around four themes:


In the arts, talent has long been indefinable. Paradoxically, this was seen as one of its defining characteristics. We will raise the question what talent is, when and how to spot it, and how to foster and develop it.


For performing complex tasks under great pressure, so as to offer critical audiences a unique experience, stage artists have no equals – except athletes. We will speak about the relevance of sports research for the performing arts; but we will also consider what the latter may contribute to the emerging science of ‘peak performance’.


Practice is the complement of talent. One yields nothing without the other. But what do we practice, and how? We will look for substantial information that may shed a light on training practices in different sectors of the performing arts.


The art of performing is at the same time the art of staying healthy. Do performing art schools have sufficient in-house expertise to provide a coherent and effective resilience program? And can the health sciences offer adequate answers to questions emerging from artistic practice?


Keynote lectures will be given by Daniel Levitin (professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience, McGill University, Montréal), and Henkjan Honing (professor of cognitive and computational musicology, University of Amsterdam). Other speakers at this conference include Eckart Altenmüller (music and medicine), Susan Hallam (music psychology and education), Roger Kneebone (surgical training), Julia Kursell (Musicology) and Jacques van Rossum (human motion sciences). The participants will also see examples of teaching and training practices at professional art schools.

The partners in this conference are: the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the Theatre School, the University of Amsterdam, and VU University. Also involved are: the UvA Academic Medical Center and the Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam.

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About Michiel Schuijer

Michiel Schuijer is research reader, and head of the Department of Composition, Conducting, and Music Theory at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. A graduate of Utrecht University and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, he focuses his own research at the juncture of music theory and historical musicology. His book Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts was published in 2008 by University of Rochester Press.

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