The ability to perform music is widespread in the general population (e.g. singing), but few individuals develop a high level of musical proficiency. Skilled musicianship typically requires decades of regular practice, estimated at 10,000 hours (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1996; Howe, Davidson, & Sloboda, 1998). Through this prolonged engagement with music, performers acquire outstanding motor skills and an enormous body of knowledge about music. Over the past two decades, this knowledge and skill has been the subject of intense scientific investigation. In this special issue, leading researchers of performance review their recent and ongoing investigations in four broad areas of focus: applied cognitive psychology, analysis-by-synthesis, movement control, and neuroscience.