Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-0487

+44 1478 350008


Indicators of Music Performance Anxiety in Nonverbal Behaviors: A Case Report of a Classical Vocal Soloist

Mary Broughton C

Music performance anxiety (MPA) is the experience of distinctive, and ongoing anxiety and apprehension related to performing music. Symptoms include cognitive, behavioral, somatic, and affective elements, which may facilitate or impair performance quality. Increases in the experience of MPA are associated with situations in which an individual is highly invested, and perceives he/she is being evaluated, or fears failure. This case report combines self-report and observational methodologies to examine the experienced MPA and nonverbal behaviors of a female vocalist, studying classical voice at a tertiary level, in two recital situations. Greater pre-performance state anxiety was reported prior to performing solo at a lunchtime recital than prior to giving a solo performance at an evening recital. Examination of the vocalist's nonverbal behaviors confirmed the differences in self-report state anxiety between the two recitals. The vocalist displayed many more self-stimulating, adaptor behaviors in the higher anxiety-provoking recital. This case demonstrates that performing musicians’ nonverbal behaviors not only reflect their expressive and communicative intentions, but that experienced anxiety can “leak” through the performance presentation. The MPA management strategies reportedly used could be improved to be more effective and reliable. As performing musicians’ nonverbal behaviors have a powerful effect on audience judgments of performances, the development of performance-based treatment strategies for MPA, to complement established treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, and stress-reduction activities, is advocated. Performance-based strategies are potentially valuable to develop concurrently developing skills for managing MPA as well as optimal audio and visual musical communication with the audience.