Conquering Performance Anxiety: Applying Research Findings To Optimize Music Performance


6:00 pm

Dr Katie Zhukov joins us from The University of Queensland to discuss new research on managing music performance anxiety.

When: Thurs 8 September 6-7pm

Where: Oscar Oeser Room, room 1120, level 11, Redmond Barry building (Psychological Sciences).

Directions: Enter Parkville campus through Gate 1 off Swanston St, follow Tin Alley for approx. 150 meters, and Redmond Barry building is on your left. 


This paper provides a comprehensive overview of research literature on performance anxiety and offers strategies that might be employed to address the physical and cognitive symptoms that accompany ‘stage fright’. Music performance anxiety is a complex area with many individual factors contributing to the level of anxiety experienced by musicians during specific performances. Treatment of music performance anxiety includes mindfulness-based approaches, physiological /physically-based therapies, cognitive/behavioural therapies, prescribed medication, music therapy and psychotherapy. The most popular approaches for treating the physical symptoms are relaxation techniques, in particular, deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation. Other strategies include Alexander Technique, bio- and neuro-feedback, healthy lifestyle and prescription drugs. Self-handicapping and perfectionism are some of the personality traits that cause negative thoughts in musicians.  The cognitive symptoms of performance anxiety could be conquered with cognitive restructuring, realistic goal setting, systematic desensitisation, and music therapy and/or psychotherapy. Combining behavioural techniques with cognitive therapy strategies appears to be the most promising approach amongst interventions aimed at reducing performance anxiety and improving the quality of music performance.