British Journal of Music Education

The pathway to excellence: the role of psychological characteristics in negotiating the challenges of musical development

Áine MacNamara a1, Patricia Holmes a2 and Dave Collins a3
a1 Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, University of Limerick, Ireland
a2 Faculty of Academic Studies, Trinity College of Music, King Charles Court, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9JF, UK
a3 UK Athletics, Blythe Valley Park, Solihull B90 8AJ, UK, and

Article author query
macnamara a   [Google Scholar] 
holmes p   [Google Scholar] 
collins d   [Google Scholar] 


The pathway to excellence is turbulent and aspiring musicians must cope with the ‘ebb and flow’ of development if they are to realise their potential. With this in mind, internationally renowned musicians were interviewed in order to identify the challenges of each stage of musical development and the psychological characteristics that can enable aspiring musicians to sustain this developmental process. Results suggest that while certain psychological characteristics are salient throughout the career and facilitate continued development, others are especially important at key stages and critically at key transitions. This research satisfies more than academic interest, as findings should sensibly inform music educators about the skills and characteristics required by aspiring musicians at key stages during the learning process.

(Published Online November 16 2006)