Saturday 21 March 2015 20.05 EDT
Virtual reality technology has long been used to train doctors and athletes, and even to help people overcome fears of flying or heights. Now the same techniques are being used to prepare musicians for their big nights on stage.
Booing audiences, coughing punters, and the trill of mobile phones have been simulated to prepare performers for the possible hazards and pitfalls.
Called a performance simulator, it was developed by the Royal College of Music in London in collaboration with a Swiss conservatoire, and includes realistic backstage and on-stage areas, with authentic signage and lighting. An interactive life-size virtual audience projected on to a large screen features individuals who will sway slightly in their seats, close their eyes or fidget.
Aaron Williamon, professor of performance science at the Royal College, said that the high costs of hiring concert venues meant musicians had few opportunities to develop performance skills .“They are learning all too late – or not at all – how to manage performance stress and the demands of their audiences,” he said.