Are there differences in practice depending on the instrument played?

Susan Hallam, Andrea Creech, Maria Varvarigou, Ioulia Papageorgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been little research on instrument differences in the length and nature of instrumental practice or how these may interact with level of expertise. This paper aimed to address this issue. A total of 3,325 young people ranging in level of expertise from beginner to the level required for entry to higher education conservatoire completed a questionnaire which consisted of a number of statements relating to time spent practicing, practicing strategies, organization of practice, and motivation to practice with a seven-point rating scale. Data were analyzed in relation to nine levels of expertise. Factor analysis revealed seven factors which were used to make comparisons between those playing different classical instruments. The findings showed that those playing keyboard instruments practiced the most, followed by strings, brass, and woodwind. There were relatively few statistically significant instrument differences in practice strategies. Where there were differences it was the woodwind players who tended to adopt less effective strategies. There were some interactions between level of expertise and practice which generally showed no clear patterns suggesting complexity in the development of musical expertise in relation to different instruments. The findings are discussed in terms of possible reasons for these differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • attitudes
  • instruments
  • music
  • practice
  • strategies


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