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Vourneen Ryan is a Performance Psychologist and Owner of The School of Performance.
Vourneen is a professional musician who performs regularly with many of the major orchestras in Ireland and the UK, including the RTE Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Wexford Festival Opera, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Vourneen was invited to join the internationally-acclaimed Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2004, where she held the post of Co-Principal Flute.
Vourneen’s appetite for performance psychology was born from her own experience of working in a high level performing environment. Vourneen felt her own training as a professional musician did not equip her with the necessary tools to deal with performance situations such as auditions, examinations and high stress performances. A 1987 study of the 51 largest orchestras in the U.S. found that about 27% of symphony musicians took beta blockers occasionally to help calm their nerves before a performance.
Vourneen was drawn to the world of sport for inspiration and was introduced to a wealth of knowledge from the field of sports psychology. She continued in pursuit of this knowledge at Waterford Institute of Technology earning a Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Since then, Vourneen has worked with musicians of all skill levels and ages. As a professional performing artist herself, Vourneen employs a hands on approach to her performance psychology practice, with a strong emphasis on the practical aspects of mental skills training. She has delivered Team Development workshops to students at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Mental Skills Training for Performance workshops to students at the University of Limerick and DKIT. Vourneen is currently a professor of flute studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and utilises mental skills training techniques to motivate and inspire her students.
Vourneen believes that elite performers like professional musicians can learn from the mental training regimes embraced by sports psychology. Mindful Mental Toughness can be developed, such that performing under pressure is something to be anticipated and planned for, not feared.
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