Supportive Environments

Presenters: Karin Hendricks and Tawnya Smith


Overly self-conscious thoughts can lead to anxiety and interfere with musical development and success. It is helpful for performers to learn approaches and practices which help them to manage thoughts.

However, it is even more essential for teachers to help students develop positive mindsets to facilitate productive practice habits before negative thoughts and behaviors take hold. In this session we discuss research-based strategies for managing fears and turning negative thought patterns into confidence-boosting affirmations and practices.

The session is geared toward practicing performers, teachers, and students who wish to learn new habits of mind and ways of promoting supportive and productive rehearsal environments (e.g., ensembles, studio lessons, student practice sessions). In connection with the conference theme, our session draws upon critical pedagogy and nonviolent communication principles to address how teachers might foster supportive rehearsal spaces. Here, instructors model and teach effective communication skills to facilitate effective performance, while also recognizing and embracing diverse values, perspectives, and musical interpretations.

Throughout the session we will also engage in interactive, embodied relaxation activities to apply principles in practice. Audience members will be invited to participate in these activities at their individual level of comfort.


Karin S. Hendricks is Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education at Boston University. She is President-Elect of the American String Teachers Association and serves on the Editorial Committee of the Journal of Research in Music Education. She has published six books, including Compassionate Music Teaching and Performance Anxiety Strategies, and four edited volumes on music and wellbeing. She has published numerous research articles and scholarly book chapters with top-tier journals and academic publishers.

Tawnya D. Smith is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Boston University where she teaches graduate courses in research, curriculum, arts integration, creating healthy classrooms, and the arts and ecojustice. She has served in leadership capacities at regional, national, and international levels, and has published in the areas of music education, expressive arts in education, and social justice in music education. She is the Chair-Elect of the American String Teacher Association Wellness Committee.

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