Music Learning

Practicing a musical instrument as a process of goal realization: The role of affect and implementation intentions


Instrumental practice is an act of learning, often referred to as ‘self-teaching’, because musicians need to behave like their own teachers taking responsibility for the aims, musical contents, time allocation and strategies in their practice. A large number of studies have shown that practicing musical instruments leads to acquisition of expert musical skills, enhances intellectual and linguistic capacities, improves memory and social skills. However, not every instrumental student engages in practice and gains all these benefits. Many students are not persistent in their practice, and quickly give up from learning an instrument. Therefore, research is needed to discover the underlying causes of this problem.


We propose to treat practice as a process of goal realization. Goal realization requires that a person engages in forming goal intention, plan the goal realization, act on the chosen goal, and evaluate the results of action. We also propose that affect – the consciously accessible feelings evident in moods and emotions – can influence how people realize their goals. In the current project, we aim to study how to foster students’ goals striving in musical learning and to explore the role of affect in this process.


Given the numerous advantages of instrumental practice, it is worth looking for the basic motivational mechanisms that explain engagement in such practice. So far it remains unclear, why some learners are not persistent in their practice, and how affect influence practice-related goals realization. A better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for instrumental practice undertaking will make it possible to provide accurate psychological support for instrumental students.


Principal investigator: Zofia Mazur

Supervisor: Mariola Laguna



Grant funded by The National Science Center / Narodowe Centrum Nauki, no. DEC-2018/29/N/HS6/02641.