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Effects of Heart‑Rate Variability Biofeedback Training and Emotional Regulation on Music Performance Anxiety in University Students
Student musicians were recruited to participate in an experimental repeated measures study to identify effects of heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback training and emotional self-regulation techniques on music performance anxiety (MPA) and music performance. Fourteen students were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group following a 5 minute unaccompanied baseline performance. Treatment group participants received 4-5 HRV training sessions of 30-50 minutes each. Training included bibliotherapy, using the computerized emWave® PC/Mac 2.0 interactive training software (Institute Of HeartMath Corporation, Boulder Creek, CA), instruction in the Freeze-Frame and Quick Coherence® techniques of emotional regulation (D. Childre, Boulder Creek, CA), and also use of an emWave® portable heart rate variability training device for home training (Quantum Intech Inc., Boulder Creek, CA). Measures included the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Performance Anxiety Inventory (PAI), Flow State Scale (FSS), average heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV). Quade’s rank transformed ANCOVA was used to evaluate treatment and no-treatment group comparisons. Combined MPA scores showed statistically significant improvement at a ρ =.05 level with a large effect size of ηρ2=.320. Individual measurements of trait anxiety showed a small effect size of ηρ2=.001. State anxiety measurement showed statistical significance at the ρ=.10 level with a large effect size of ηρ2=.291. PAI showed a large effect size ηρ2=.149. HR showed a large effect size of ηρ2=.143. HRV showed statistical significance at ρ=.000 level and a large effect size of ηρ2=.698. This study demonstrated statistical and practical/clinical significance of a relatively quick and inexpensive biofeedback training that had a large effect at decreasing mental, emotional, and physiological symptoms of MPA for university students.