Doctor of Musical Arts Dissertations


Mindfulness and Metacognition: A Guide to Implementing Beneficial Mental Habits in Music Teaching

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Contemporary Music

First Advisor

John Sampen (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Madeline Duntley (Other)

Third Advisor

Ryan Ebright (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Elaine Colprit (Committee Member)


Colleges across the country are experiencing an increase in reported student mental health issues. In response to these concerns, college music departments are creating and improving wellness programs designed to support positive lifestyle habits for musicians. This document advocates for the expansion and continued focus of wellness programs through the lens of mindfulness and metacognition. Research has shown that mindfulness training and metacognitive skills are powerful interventive tools for the development of healthy mental behaviors and can result in lasting beneficial neurological changes. This research provides an overview and discussion of twelve collegiate musician wellness programs and research related to mindfulness. Attributes of these initiatives are compared to describe trends in the development of supportive measures taken by university faculties. Research specific to neurological benefits that result from mindfulness practices seems to support the incorporation of these practices within music pedagogy. Evidence of this is provided by studies that investigated lasting structural changes to the brain as a result of meditation and other mindfulness skills. Literature concerning metacognitive skills for mindfulness development is also provided to give context for the first stages of this development. Because music teachers have long discussed mental aspects of performance, an investigation of common instructional texts examining mindfulness practices in musician training is also included. Finally, an implementation guide for collegiate music teachers and students is offered as a resource aid for these teaching practices.