Music performance anxiety... and how to beat it
My current research looks at the underlying thoughts and beliefs that can feed performance anxiety and extreme anxiety in the professional and tertiary university spectrum of performers. I’m also doing some more adolescent-focused research, looking at how to develop interventions that are accessible in the school system, which is important given most people start learning an instrument in their younger years.
I had my own experiences with performance anxiety in Year 12 of high school, performing the clarinet and classical voice for the final music examination. It was in a new venue, with a really poor set-up, and everything just cascaded in on me, leading to the classic “choke” experience. After that I put the clarinet away in a box and didn’t touch it again, and didn’t sing again until my mid-twenties. I remember looking at the examiners and thinking: “Can they see that I’m actually crumbling here?” It was just revolting.
- By Dr Margaret Osborne is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at The University of Melbourne. She is also a Registered Psychologist, Occupational Rehabilitation and Careers Counselor, and past-President of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. .