Challenging Performance:

Classical Music Performance Norms
and How to Escape Them


by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson


This is a book, or maybe in the end a website, or a set of podcasts, or two or three of these—we’ll see. It’s about freeing classical music performance from unnecessary rules and constraints. If you’re a passionate believer in the status quo you’ll probably hate it. But that doesn’t mean it’s wholly wrong. As you can already tell, it’s a polemical piece rather than a scholarly tome. But that doesn’t mean it includes no truths. Think of it as the book your conservatoire teacher wanted you never to read.

I’m writing it during 2019–20, and posting chapters in first draft as they’re written. I’d very much like your feedback, in the light of which I’ll make improvements. So the text will grow and change. Please follow it, and let me know what you think at Please let others know at @ChalPerformance and anywhere that classical musicians follow.

“Challenging Performance: Classical Music Performance Norms and How to Escape Them” by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
version 1.76 (17.i.20)

To come…

(Pt 2:) management, copyright, visual arts, (Pt 3:) persuasive performance, more examples, limits of principle and practice, assessing non-standard performances, audience responses to creative performance

Part 4: Psychological Explanations

music as infantilisation, music as religion, music as another person, music and attachment

Part 5: Conclusions

ways of acting, objects as music, rights and freedom

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