Paper Presentation - Performance Psychology for Vocal Performers

Over the past decade, performance psychology has made strides in researching singers and developing tools and strategies to work with vocal performers in applied practice. Optimal performance is a result of high quality practice, overcoming mental barriers, developing stamina, and training for success. Understanding, cultivating, and sustaining effective mental technique and motivation is a key component to achieving a sustainable and healthy career. While performance anxiety remains a popular topic, the field has expanded to investigate and work with singers on peak performance, health and wellbeing, musical development, mental resilience, and effective learning and teaching. Working with a performance psychologist or a mental performance consultant (certified as a CMPC® through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology) is becoming more commonplace in other high-stress performance domains such as the military, healthcare, business, and sports, but the performing arts has been slower to utilize the emerging field. The usefulness of performance psychology in both training and vocal performance settings, recent topics relevant to vocal performers (such as effective practice and imagery) and the future of research and applied practice with singers in the field will be discussed.

Financial Disclosure: Ms. Thornton has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Non-Financial Disclosure:
 Ms. Thornton has no non-financial relationships to disclose.

Julia Thornton, M.S.

Julia Thornton, M.S., is a performance psychology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Edinburgh in Performance Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon in Anthropology and Music. She is currently working toward the CMPC® certification through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Julia has extensive experience as a creative leader, music director, and conductor with a specialty in vocal performance coaching and storytelling. She previously served as the Resident Music Consultant for Seattle Repertory Theatre, along with frequently working at The 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Cornish College of the Arts as a music director, music supervisor, conductor, and pianist. In 2015 she music directed the Gregory Award winning Best Musical Into the Woods, and in 2019 her work on the Ordway Cabaret “Back to Before” received a BroadwayWorld nomination. She currently serves as the Co-Chair for Regional and Affinity Groups at MAESTRA. In addition to working with singers, she also works with actors, instrumentalists, athletes, dancers, and creative leaders. Visit her at