Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Music Education: Choral/Instrumental (B.M.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. David Langley


According to Stoeber and Childs (2011), perfectionism is “a personality disposition characterized by striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high standards for performance accompanied by tendencies for overly critical evaluations” (p.2) Dispositions such as perfectionism may be prominent in individuals in the performing arts, as it may help or hinder their development. This study explores development in singers with perfectionism and ways of coping. Studies have shown that there are both positive and negative aspects of perfectionism. Positive aspects include goal progress, agreeableness, and higher functioning. Negative aspects include depression, anxiety, stress maladjustment. These negative aspects manifest in musicians through music performance anxiety (MPA), musical self-efficacy, and self-esteem. There are two primary forms of perfectionism. Socially Prescribed perfectionism is “the need to attain standards or expectations prescribed by significant others” (Flett, 1991). Self-Oriented perfectionism is “setting high standards and stringently evaluating oneself” (Flett, 1991). In the current study, participating undergraduate and graduate vocal music students completed a diagnostic tool which identified the type of perfectionism they lean more towards. This led to individual interviews that explored the initial development of perfectionism, particularly in adolescence, as well as how it affects them during their current studies. The interviews led to themes such as the role of parental influence, strong influences from music teachers through adolescence, and possible implications on informant’s view of their future selves within the music profession. These findings may lead to a better understanding of how to help future music students to develop coping skills for their perfectionism.

Thesis Summary

This study explores the relationship between perfectionism and development in college music vocal majors.