Outline: The PERFORM Model has been developed by writer, musician and positive psychologist Tabby Kerwin as part of her research to support the mental health of musicians.

Based on statistics following research by herself into the mental health of musicians in brass bands and wider evidence collated by the University of Westminster, Tabby concluded that the issue of mental ill heath is very real in the music industry, but by focussing a spotlight on the issue and creating strategies to promote  a greater level of wellbeing and putting support measures in place in organisations, an impact could be made which would lead to a reduction in levels of depression and anxiety.

The PERFORM model

One in four people will be affected by a mental health condition during their life, 1 with musicians reported to be three times more likely than the general public to experience mental ill health. 2

A key part of being a musician is the ability to perform whilst experiencing a state of ‘Flow’ 3 and whilst experiencing Flow on a regular basis can lower levels of anxiety, many musicians appear to be experiencing increasing levels of mental ill health.

As part of my research into the mental health of musicians (particularly in the field of brass bands) and my work as a performance coach, it has become evident to me that the application of positive psychology coaching techniques to all areas of a musician’s life promotes high-performance and emotional fitness whilst supporting the mental health of musicians for life satisfaction and as a consequence, I have developed The PERFORM Model 4 based on this premise.

As a musician, the focus should not just be on what we perform, but how we perform it and this means prioritising our wellbeing in order to make sure we are emotionally fit enough to sustain the mental strain of high-performance demands.

The PERFORM Model is based on seven stages:

 

P          Positivity

E         Enjoyment

R         Resilience

F          Flourishing

O         Openness

R         Reality

M        Make it Happen

 

Each of the seven stages focusses on a positive psychology coaching exercise with an outcome that will help boost emotional fitness and become a tool as part of a wider toolkit to act as a protective factor for mental health.

The model construct looks like this:

Stage Coaching Exercise Outcome
P Positivity Identifying Strengths Hope, possibility, ability to work with pre-existing strengths
E Enjoyment Meditation focus, flow, engagement, self-care
R Resilience Grounding connection, confidence, pathways thinking
F Flourishing Journaling gratitude, intention, happiness, reflection
O Openness Visualisation optimism, goal identification, imagination, agency thinking
R Reality Mindfulness honesty, assessment, appreciation, thought disputation
M Make it Happen Kindness & Creativity Preparation, management, creative thinking

 

The purpose of The PERFORM Model is to guide musicians through a series of established positive psychology coaching techniques which form part of a wider wellbeing toolkit. Through consistent action, musicians can develop good habits which will act as a protective factor for mental health, thus helping them to manage uncomfortable emotions, anxiety and adversity within an already volatile and pressurised industry.

With the application of coping strategies such as those featured in The PERFORM Model, which not only focus on the performance of music itself but apply to all areas of a musician’s life, it is hoped that individuals will not only become more emotionally fit and better able to support their own wellbeing and mental health, but we will see a reduction in cases of mental ill health in the music industry.

© Mode for… Tabby Kerwin

April 2021

References

  1. The World Health Report 2001: Mental Disorders affect one in four people. (2001, September 28). Www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-09-2001-the-world-health-report-2001-mental-disorders-affect-one-in-four-people#:~:text=One%20in%20four%20people%20in
  2. Gross, S., & Musgrave, G. (2016). Can Music Make You Sick? Music and Depression A study into the incidence of musicians’ mental health Part 1: Pilot Survey Report Help Musicians UK. https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/download/4196ca464d2cc76db38b7ab138837c26cd616ff8cdd46bffe2e82ab26b454bbe/832310/Gross_Musgrave.pdf
  3. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1998). Finding flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life. Choice Reviews Online35(03), 35–182835–1828. https://doi.org/10.5860/choice.35-1828
  4. The PERFORM Model © Mode for…Tabby Kerwin (2021)