Musicians anticipate and monitor the expressive effects of their actions during performance. Previous research suggests that the ability to imagine desired outcomes can partially compensate when auditory feedback is absent, permitting continued performance even though information about whether these outcomes are realized is unavailable. Research also suggests that musical imagery ability improves with increasing musical expertise. This study tested the hypothesis that expert musicians’ superior imagery abilities enable reduced reliance on auditory feedback, relative to novice musicians, during the performance of loudness changes (i.e., dynamics). Musicians reproduced the dynamic changes of sounded scales using a loudness slider as the availability of imagery and auditory feedback was manipulated. Contrary to expectations, only novices showed impairment in performing dynamics during imagery disruption and auditory feedback deprivation. Experts showed limited dependence on both sources of information, suggesting greater flexibility in how musical information is mentally represented, compared to novices, and an improved ability to adapt planning strategies.

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