Anxiety in musicians: On and off stage


Music performance anxiety (MPA) is a prevalent problem for musicians. MPA has been conceptualized as a type of social anxiety and also as a discrete focal anxiety with normal functioning outside of specific music performance situations. In an effort to examine unique and overlapping components of MPA and social anxiety, 130 professional musicians were assessed concerning self-reported MPA in three different musical performance settings (solo, group, and practice) using the Performance Anxiety Questionnaire and also completed measures of general social anxiety. Results showed that the expression of MPA varies by performance setting, with the most anxiety reported during solo performances. Regression models demonstrated that general measures of social anxiety increasingly predicted MPA from practice, to group, to solo settings, with fear of negative evaluation uniquely predicting anxiety in all three contexts. These results highlight fear of negative evaluation as a core component of MPA. Based on these findings, the relationship between MPA in various performance contexts and social evaluative anxiety is discussed.

Publication Title

Psychology of Music