Chapter

Phenomenology of music performance anxiety

Dianna T. Kenny

in The Psychology of Music Performance Anxiety

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586141
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731129 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586141.003.0014
Phenomenology of music performance anxiety

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This chapter discusses the phenomenology (i.e., lived experience) of music performance anxiety in all its manifestations — somatic, cognitive, and behavioural — as experienced by classical, jazz, and popular musicians, both instrumentalists and vocalists. It shows that music performance anxiety is no respecter of musical genre, age, gender, years of experience, or level of technical mastery of one's art. It compares the experiences of performers who find performance exhilarating with those whose anxiety deprives them of joy in performing. It explores some of the differences in their respective behaviour, perception, and focus that maintain or exacerbate their anxiety. The chapter also considers the presence and nature of personal vulnerabilities in very anxious musicians that are expressed, not just in their musical performances, but which pervade their lives. The chapter introduces the role of aversive performance experiences in triggering what for some musicians becomes a lifelong fear of performing. Finally, is it shown that anxious musicians can experience exhilaration in some of their performances — an experience described as ‘flow’ — and that it is for such experiences that anxious musicians remain in the field of music performance.

Keywords: musical performance; musicians; performers; anxiety; personal vulnerabilities; flow; exhilaration

Chapter.  6842 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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