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Article

Peter Pfordresher

Music performance involves precise motor control that is coordinated with higher order planning to convey complex structural information. In addition, music performance usually involves motor tasks that are not learned spontaneously (as in the use of the vocal apparatus), the reproduction of preestablished sequences (notated or from memory), and synchronized joint performance with one or more other musicians. Music performance also relies on a rich repertoire of musical knowledge that can be used for purposes of expressive variation and improvisation. As such, the study of music performance provides a way to explore learning, motor control, memory, and interpersonal coordination in the context of a real-world behavior. Music performance skills vary considerably in the population and reflect interactions between genetic predispositions and the effect of intensive practice. At the same time, research suggests that most individuals have the capacity to perform music through singing or learning an instrument, and in this sense music performance taps into a universal human propensity for communication and coordination with conspecifics.