The language of music shares a number of basic processing mechanisms with natural languages, yet studies of learner autonomy in music education are rare. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of fostering music students' learner autonomy in performance practice through a series of curriculum changes. A mixed-methods approach, including a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews, was used to investigate two cohorts of music education students (N = 74) from Hong Kong. The analysis reveals the students' autonomous learner characteristics, including the ability to formulate their own learning strategies, identify both musical and non-musical weaknesses and take appropriate steps to improve their performance skills. Copyright ©Cambridge University Press.