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Musical Performance Anxiety, Cognitive Flexibility, and Field

Nora A. Rife, Leah Blumberg Lapidus, Zachary M. Shnek
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 4: Page 161 (December 2000)

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Abstract: Musical performance anxiety (MPA) is a wide-ranging debilitating problem among professional musicians. The aim of this study was to determine whether lower levels of MPA would be significantly associated with higher levels of cognitive flexibility as measured by the Stroop Color-Word Test, and higher levels of field independence as measured by the Group Embedded Figures Test in a sample of 70 elite professional orchestral musicians. A secondary objective was to determine whether musicians who played key solo parts would show higher levels of cognitive flexibility and field independence and lower levels of MPA than their section mates. Results indicated that MPA was significantly associated with cognitive flexibility after controlling for confounding variables. No significant associations were found between field independence and MPA. A significant difference was found between the principal and section players on the number of errors made on the Color-Word Test, although no significant differences were found among the other study variables. All of the musicians taking part in the study had low to moderate levels of MPA. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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