Heart rate response of professional musicians when playing music

Heather L. Vellers, Conor Irwin, J. Timothy Lightfoot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: The primary aim was to determine the level of physiological stress evoked while playing music in a standing position as indicated by heart rate (HR) response. A secondary aim was to analyze the effect of music genre (classic rock, western, contemporary Christian, and metal rock) on the relative HR response. Lastly, we considered potential physiological initiators of the music-playing-induced HR response. METHODS: HR response was monitored in 27 professional musicians (3 women, 24 men) between the ages of 21and 67 yrs old during rehearsal and public performances. The percent maximal HR (%MHR) evoked was determined by taking a percentage of the age-predicted maximal HR for each musician and comparing the average %MHR in each genre during public and rehearsal events. The role of the potential initiators of these responses (e.g., number of years playing in public, event type, instrument type, tempo, etc.) was determined using multiple regression analyses. RESULTS: The overall average %MHR responses were 52'5% and 59'5% during rehearsal and public performances, respectively, with genre type having a significant effect on the HR response (p=0.01). Body mass index and tempo were each found to be significant contributors to the HR response while playing music (r2=0.506, p=0.001). CONCLUSION: Playing music professionally evokes considerable increases in HR response, with music genre influencing the level of the physiological response. We concluded that 50% of the HR response while playing music was associated with body mass index, music tempo, and instrument type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-105
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Problems of Performing Artists
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2015


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