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Research Library

Exploring the Effects of Shared Heart‑Focused Intention in Music Performance on Musicians and Audience Members

    • Published: 2023
    • Kathleen Riley, Ph.D.1, and Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.2
    • Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 2023. Volume 51, Issue 2, pp. 36-43. DOI: Independent Researcher, Optimal Performance Coach for Performing Artists, Redding, CA.2. HeartMath Institute, Boulder Creek, CA.
    • Download the complete paper, click here.


This exploratory study sought to determine if a shared group intention by members of a string quartet for two pieces of music would have an effect on themselves and audience members. An experimental design was implemented consisting of two interventions. The first intervention introduced a series of exercises focused on posture and biomechanical movements. The second intervention introduced HeartMath’s Quick Coherence and Heart Lock-In techniques. The Pachelbel Canon in D and Mozart Divertimenti in F K138 were chosen as the works to perform. For data collection, all participants (N = 12) were fitted with ambulatory Bodyguard heart rate variability (HRV) recorders. Qualitative data were collected with questionnaires, and videos recorded comments. All three sessions were video recorded. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to test within-subjects effects in baseline HRV measurements among three sessions. Audience participants (n = 8) and musician participants (n = 4) were analyzed as separate groups. Quantitative results showed a significant change in HRV among the musicians from baseline after the Heart Lock-In breathing technique was introduced. Qualitative results showed improved mental focus and feelings of connectivity among the musicians. Audience HRV data had a high level of artifact, and the results showed no significance. After the final performance, qualitative comments focused on the performances being more engaging and the musicians being more connected with each other.