The SHZM is cooperation partner within the framework of the following research projects:

Music performance Anxiety from the Challenge and Threat Perspective: Psychophysiological and Performance Outcomes

This project is financially supported by the SNF and coordinated by the University of Lausanne (Département Santé au travail et environnement)

This project examines changes in stress, cognition, emotion and physiological parameters attributable to stage fright (stress hormone levels, cardio-vascular functions and respiration) with regards to how they relate to qualitative parameters relevant for solo performance quality. The project aims to make a further contribution to the prevention of performance anxiety and a constructive way of dealing with excessive levels of stage fright. We extend prior research in this domain in novel ways and investigate to what extent university music students varying in their level of trait MPA from low to high differ in their performance-related psychophysiological activity and their self- and expert-rated quality of performance.

Neurofeedback within the Context of University-Level Formation

Within the framework of this project, music students train attentional states relevant for their professional activity by using portable neurofeedback-devices for several months. Study participants undergo EEG-measurement, as well as completing psychometric scales pre- and post-training. The aim of this study is to consciously generate different levels of concentration depending on external requirements and to do so independently of a training device.

Objective Criteria for the Individual Selection of a Physiologically Advantageous Violin Position

This use-inspired research project aims to contribute a quantitative analysis of individual, advantageous or limiting biomechanical and muscular factors of the left upper extremity in connection with typical instrument positions used by violinists. Based on study results, physiological and pedagogical guidelines are developed in view of individualised, ergonomic optimisations, as well as the prevention of task-specific health problems. Within the framework of this cross-sectional study, the interdependency between instrument position, muscle activation, subjectively perceived effort, as well as biomechanically relevant aspects of the left upper extremity are examined. Based on study results, individual adaptations of the instrument position can be carried out more effectively, and the consultation of players of high stringed instruments is facilitated for prevention, therapy and teaching alike. This research project can be seen as a model for future studies on other instrument groups.


Hildebrandt H (2018) „Gelingen und Gesundheit im Instrumentalunterricht – Physiologische Aspekte von Bewegungslernen und Körperwissen“. In: Rüdiger W (Hg.) Instrumentalpädagogik – wie und wozu? (Üben & Musizieren) Schott, Mainz 2018: 187-206

Hildebrandt H (2017) “Aktives Musizieren bei Jugendlichen – Spezifische Aspekte des Schülers, des Studierenden, des angehenden Profis, des Solisten”. In: Schriftenreihe Band XXIV der Psychosomatischen Klinik Bad Neustadt (Ed.) Ressource Musik – Der Musiker im Mittelpunkt. Bad Neustadt 2017, S. 181-196

Hildebrandt H/Margulies O/Nemcova M (2017) “Violinspiel erleichtern. Ein Zürcher Forschungsprojekt liefert erste wissenschaftlich fundierte Ergebnisse zu individuell geeigneten Violinpositionen”. In: Schweizerische Musikzeitung 20 (11/2017): 54

Hildebrandt H/Margulies O/Köhler B/Nübling M/Verheul W/Nemcova M/Hildebrandt W (2016) “Objective Criteria for the Individual Selection of a Physiologically Advantageous Violin Position”. In: Musikphysiologie und Musikermedizin 23 (3/2016): 145-146

Hildebrandt H/Margulies O/Köhler B/Nübling M/Verheul W/Nemcova M (2016) “Objective Criteria for the Individual Selection of a Physiologically Advantageous Violin Position”. In: Documentation of the T4X – Symposium Munich 2016. (2016): 52

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Completed Research Projects

Hidden Arm and Hand Characteristics of Percussionists

Within the framework of this research project, key parameters in arms and hands of percussionists are investigated.

The goal of this project is the creation of an instrument-specific comparison group for percussionists – in analogy with comparison groups for piano, violin and cello. These comparison groups were built up over 50 years of work in our laboratory, which was founded by Christoph Wagner.

The comparison groups permit, to anonymously compare hand characteristics of an individual player with those of other professional musicians. By doing so, useful insight is gained into individually optimisation of posture, practicing techniques, physical endurance training, therapy options, etc..


Hildebrandt H/Margulies M (2018) “Creative Ergonomic Solutions for Musicians – Scientifically Based Examples from the Zurich Centre for Musicians Hands (ZZM)”. In: Documentation T4X2  Symposium München 2018: 50-51 (ISBN 978-3-00-059760-2)

Nemcova M/Margulies O/Hildebrandt H (2018) “Hidden Arm and Hand Characteristics of Percussionists”. In: Documentation T4X2  Symposium München 2018: 69 (ISBN 978-3-00-059760-2)

Toward a science of Music Performance: Interdisciplinary Research on Task-Specific Movement and Learning Parameters in Professional Musicians


Kusserow M/Candia V/Amft O/Hildebrandt H/Folkers G/Tröster G (2012) “Monitoring Stage Fright Outside the Laboratory: An Example in a Professional Musician Using Wearable Sensors.” In: Med Probl Perform Art 27(1) (3/2012): 21–30

Kusserow M/Hildebrandt H/Candia V (2013) „Das Lampenfieber unter objektiver Beobachtung“. In: ESTA Nachrichten  (2012): 3-5

Prolonged Performance-related Psychophysiological Activation in High- and Low-anxious Music Students 

Project lead: Patrick Gomez, Carole Dessimoz

Collaboration: Brigitta Danuser, Horst Hildebrandt, Regina Studer


Studer R/Nielsen C/Klumb P/Hildebrandt H/Nater U/Wild P/Heinzer R/Haba-RubioJ/Danuser B/ Gomez P (2019) „The mediating role of mood in the relationship among sleep, perseverative cognition and subjective health complaints in musicians.” In: Psychology & Health,

Gomez P/Nielsen C/Studer R/Hildebrandt H/Klumb P/Nater U/Wild P/Danuser B (2018) “Prolonged performance-related neuroendocrine activation and perseverative cognition in low- and high-anxious university music students.” In: Psychonoeuroendocrinology 95 (2018): 18-27

Nielsen C/Studer R/Hildebrandt H /Nater U/Wild P/Danuser B/Gomez P (2017) “The relationship between music performance anxiety, subjective performance quality and post-event rumination among music students”. In: Psychology of Music  2017, 1-17. DOI: 10.1177/0305735617706539 and Printed version: Psychology of Music  46(1) (1/2018): 136-152

Cardiorespiratory Activity in High- and Low-Anxious Professional Music Students in Performance Situations

SNF-Cooperation project with the University of Lausanne, 2007-2011

The aim of this project was to examine musicians’ psycho-physical functions in stage settings. By means of psycho-metric scales, and real-time respiration-analysis (gas exchange, respiratory movements, etc.), music students were examined before, during and after an appearance on stage. 450 students of 6 music universities completed the psychometric questionnaires, 75 participated within the framework of the further study phases. In addition to cardio-respiratory base parameters, end-tidal CO2 was measured as an indication for possible hyperventilation. Data collected were compared with subjectively perceived emotions and subjectively perceived physiological activity.


Studer R / Danuser B / Hildebrandt H / Arial M / Gomez P (2009) “Music performance anxiety (mpa) : cardiorespiratory activity in high- and low-anxious professional music students before a performance situation.” In: Psychophysiology, 46 (2009): 43

Studer R / Danuser B / Hildebrandt H / Arial M / Gomez P (2011) “Hyperventilation complaints in music performance anxiety among classical music Students”. Journal of Psychosomatic Research Research 2011 Jun;70(6):557-64

Studer R / Gomez P / Hildebrandt H / Arial M / Danuser B (2011) “Stage fright: its experience as a problem and coping with it”. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2011 Oct;84(7):761-71

Studer R / Danuser B / Wild P/ Hildebrandt H / Gomez P (2014) “Psychophysiological Activation During Preparation, Performance, and Recovery in High- and Low-Anxious Music Students”. In: Applied
Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 39(1) (3/2014): 45-57 (online published 30th of January 2014)

Link to the research report: click here.

Stress Factors and Solutions Strategies in Music Students

Cooperation project between the music universities of Basel, Lucerne and Zurich

Cross-sectional study carried out by means of standardised scales, focussing on both physical and psychological task-specific complaints, coping with work as a music student, patterns of behaviour and experience, as well as the attitude towards health and one’s own preventative activities.


Hildebrandt H / Candia V / Nübling M (2009) “Evaluation gesundheitlicher Belastungen und Arbeitseinstellungen bei Studienanfängern an Musikhochschulen”. In: Arbeitsmedizin & Sozialmedizin & Umweltmedizin 44 (3 / 2009): 135

Hildebrandt H / Candia V / Nübling M (2009) “Evaluation gesundheitlicher Belastungen und Arbeitseinstellungen bei Studienanfängern an Musikhochschulen”. In: Dokumentation zur 49. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Arbeitsmedizin und Umweltmedizin e. V. (DGAUM) 2009: 280 – 285

Hildebrandt H / Nübling M / Candia V (2012)” Increment of Fatigue, Depression, and Stage Fright During the First Year of High-Level Education in Music Students.” Med Probl Perform Art 2012; 27(1): 43–48

Link to the article: click here.

Clarinet Sound – Attempting a Physiological Analysis 

Further information can be found on the website of the Lucerne Music College here. (Information available in German only)

A report about this research project produced by Swiss Television SF DRS can be found here. (TV production in German)

The article’s abstract (German only) is available here, the print version of the article (German only) here.