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The Effects of Music-assisted Coping Systematic Desensitization on Music Performance Anxiety

Alan D. Reitman
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 16 Number 3: Page 115 (September 2001)

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Abstract: The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effects of music-assisted coping systematic desensitization on music performance anxiety. Eighteen musicians (19-45 years old; mean age = 26.66 years), ranging in experience from student to professional, with self-reported performance anxiety were randomly assigned to three groups: (1) verbal coping systematic desensitization; (2) music-assisted coping systematic desensitization; and (3) a wait-list control group. Subjects in the treatment groups received eight 75-minute group sessions of coping systematic desensitization. The treatment also included at-home relaxation practice, which made use of pre-recorded relaxation scripts, with and without preferred music. All subjects participated in 5-minute pre- and post-treatment performances in front of three raters. Dependent measures included continuous monitoring of heart rate and frontalis surface electromyography (sEMG) during pre- and post-tests and during a 5-minute resting condition, the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Performance Anxiety Response Questionnaire, and the Music Performance Anxiety Questionnaire, administered pre- and post-treatment, and error count. Results indicated no significant differences between groups on physiological and self-report measures (p > 0.05). Error count was rendered invalid due to low interrater reliability. Self-report measures revealed within-group trends toward reduction in cognitive indices of anxiety for both treatment groups. Anxiety-related muscle tension (frontalis sEMG) also showed a within-group decline for the music-assisted treatment group. It was concluded that further research is warranted into the use of music-assisted cognitive-behavioral treatments for musicians. Recommendations for future research are made

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