The Psychology of Music Performance Anxiety

Dianna Kenny*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

    242 Citations (Scopus)


    Why are some performers exhilarated and energized about performing in public, while others feel a crushing sense of fear and dread, and experience public performance as an overwhelming challenge that must be endured? What are the factors that produce such vastly different performance experiences? Why have consummate artists like Frederic Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Pablo Cassals, Tatiana Troyanos, and Barbra Streisand experienced such intense music performance anxiety? This is a disorder that can affect musicians across a range of genres and of all standards. Some of the 'cures' musicians resort to can be harmful to their health and detrimental to their playing. This book is an exposition of music performance anxiety. It draws on a range of disciplines including psychology, philosophy, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and performance theory in order to explain the many facets of music performance anxiety that have emerged in the empirical and clinical literature. It identifies some unifying guiding principles that will enhance our understanding of the condition and guides in the development of effective treatments. The book provides a detailed conceptual framework for the study of music performance anxiety and a review of the empirical and clinical research on the anxiety disorders. In addition, it presents a thorough analysis of the concepts related to music performance anxiety, its epidemiology, and theories and therapies that may be useful in understanding and treating the condition. The voices of musicians are clearly heard throughout the book and in the final two chapters, we hear directly from musicians about how they experience it and what they do to manage it.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages400
    ISBN (Electronic)9780191731129
    ISBN (Print)9780199586141
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2012


    • Anxiety disorders
    • Music performance anxiety
    • Musicians
    • Performance theory
    • Psychoanalysis
    • Treatments


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