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A qualitative inquiry into musical performance anxiety

Joann Marie Kirchner
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 18 Number 2: Page 78 (June 2003)

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Abstract: This study examined the experience of performance anxiety in solo piano playing from the perspective of the participants. Research questions focusing on the following categories were addressed: (1) What does the experience of performance anxiety feel like to a solo pianist? (2) What are the ways in which performance anxiety manifests itself? A qualitative methodology was employed in this study. Six pianists on the faculties of southwestern colleges and universities were chosen selectively for participation. A survey questionnaire and an individual interview were used to collect data. The researcher analyzed the transcripts of the interviews, and codes were developed accordingly. The categories of research questions were used for the interpretation of the findings. The symptoms of performance anxiety manifested themselves through a combination of thought processes, feelings, and physiologic responses, activated by the perception of a threat by the performer. Negative thoughts and feelings dominated the experience of musical performance anxiety and undermined the self-confidence level of the performer. The identity of the performer was affected by how the individual viewed himself or herself and the individual's perception of how others viewed him or her.

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