Mark Niskanen

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Biggs

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Coons

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Johnson


Music, perception, audiovisual, music education, performance

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until



It is challenging for one to imagine a musical performance devoid of non-sonic elements, without factors such as visuals, space, or human interaction impacting our perception. Since senses are not self-contained systems, isolating sonic stimulus from the visual is practically impossible. Scientific studies and experience demonstrate that these non-sonic factors are a fundamental part of experiencing music. Nonetheless, their impact on musical activities are often ignored in academic curricula, and serious discussions about visuals rarely occur within schools of music. Music pedagogy should reflect the importance of the visual domain to the experience of individuals witnessing musical performances. This would benefit student understanding of music performance more accurately as a multisensory activity and encourage conceptions of music that are commensurate with the significance of accompanying non-sonic factors of musical performance. Additionally, schools of music would add value to their education by providing students with visual tools and an understanding of the importance of visual phenomena in order to succeed in the ocularcentric twenty-first century.