Music performance anxiety in choral singers
Nixon Stothert, Wendy B.
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Music Performance Anxiety (MPA) can inhibit a singer from performing to the best of her ability; however, choral conductors are in a position to be able to help singers under their leadership cope with MPA. A Music Performance Anxiety Survey was administered to 85 community choral singers, ages 14-75, in a small musical community in British Columbia, Canada. It was a mixed-methods study investigating how singers experience MPA and how conductors can help singers cope with MPA. Quantitative data were collected concerning singers’ physical and psychological symptoms of MPA, and the factors that influence their experience of MPA. Qualitative data were collected regarding singers’ opinions of how conductors could best help them. Results indicated that 95% of the participants experienced some degree of anxiety-related symptoms prior to performing and that anxiety levels were higher prior to performing than during performance. It was found that psychological symptoms, such as fear, were more bothersome than physical symptoms such as being unable to relax. Memorizing the repertoire was the factor that had the greatest influence on levels of MPA. The development of trusting relationships emerged as the most effective way that conductors can help singers achieve more satisfying performances. Recommendations for physical strategies, behavioural approaches, and addressing the psychological symptoms of MPA are given.