What is it like for a professional musician to perform music in front of a live audience? We use Strauss and Corbin's (1998) Grounded Theory to conduct qualitative research with 10 professional musicians to investigate their experience of music performance. We find performance to extend temporally beyond time spent before an audience and to include performers' rituals of separation from everyday life. Using the abridged version of the model emerging from this data that we present in this article, we investigate how professional musicians' experience of music performance centers on forging 'connection' with an audience and the ways in which this process is facilitated by the pre- and post-performance routines in which musicians engage. We find musicians' understandings and experiences of 'connection' during performance to differ greatly, being influenced by their positioning on two spectra that emerge in this study and indicate the extent to which, during performance, musicians: a) value attentiveness and/or attunement in an audience and b) are open to variability.