Causes, effects, and solutions to performance-related anxiety: suggestions for the teaching of brass players

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Brandon Scott Slocumb (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Randy Kohlenberg

Abstract: Music performance anxiety, or MPA, affects musicians of every age and performance level. This condition inhibits musical performance in the areas of accuracy, endurance, expression, and enjoyment. Music performance anxiety exists, in large part, through the performers themselves. These performers handicap efforts of musical presentation through the symptoms and effects of MPA. These symptoms and effects can be divided into three categories: cognitive, physical, and psychological. The cognitive aspects of MPA include an inability to focus on the task at hand as well as difficulty with memory and methodology of specific instrument performance. The physical attributes of MPA are a result of what is known in psychological terminology as the "fight or flight" mechanism. When a person perceives a threat, either real or imagined, the internal workings of the body change to react to this threat. These changes in blood-flow and body temperature adversely affect music performance. The psychological effects of MPA create a mindset within the performer that is negative and self-defeating, leading to decreased musical abilities and reduced enjoyment of musical performance. These effects are particularly detrimental in brass performance which requires a careful balance and combination of breathing, posture, aural skills, and finger/wrist dexterity. This document contains explanations of the physical, cognitive, and psychological effects of musical performance anxiety and details strategies to lessen or eliminate these effects. Literature pertaining to anxiety, sport psychology, and relaxation therapies are explored to further knowledge of these effects and provide a better understanding of these symptoms. This information can then used to deduce strategies to diminish the effects of MPA within students. Teachers can utilize this information as a resource guide to help with the teaching of students who suffer from nominal to severe music performance anxiety. Strategies for teaching students to cope with these effects are also included along with pedagogical applications for brass playing. The purpose of this discourse is to facilitate a change in the methodology of music education and performance coaching in performers of all ages and abilities.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Anxiety, Brass, Music, Pedagogy, Performance, Psychology
Performance anxiety.
Music $x Performance $x Psychological aspects.
Brass instruments $x Instruction and study.
Music $x Study and teaching.

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