Music Performance anxiety

Over the past six months, I have conducted 20 in depth interviews with orchestral musicians in order to understand their experiences of performing music in an orchestral setting. I was interested in understanding the personal, professional, positive and problematic experiences that musicians encounter in the course of their working lives.

It has been a wonderfully rich and rewarding experience for me to spend time casting a very wide net over these experiences with the musicians who have volunteered to participate. Based on these 20 interviews, I have come to understand that the experience of music performance anxiety is ubiquitous amongst musicians, but its origins and the subjective experience of what we collectively call music performance anxiety vary widely for each individual.

This discovery is very important in that it indicates that treatments for the condition need to be individually tailored to address the specific issues arising for individual musicians. One of the most impressive aspects of my work with these musicians is to discover how creatively and proactively they have worked to find their own solutions to the issues that they have experienced when performing under pressure.

In the coming weeks, I will be compiling these ideas into a ‘self-help’ sheet which I hope to present during my visits to orchestras to discuss the project in more detail. I would like to encourage more musicians to share their wisdom with me for this part of the Sound Practice Project. I look forward to hearing from you.


Professor Dianna Kenny
Professor of Psychology and Music
Director, Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance
Phone +61 2 9144 0711
Fax +61 2 9351 3838