A comparison of music performance anxiety to a laboratory stressor

Wasley, D. and Williamon, A. and Taylor, A. (2011) A comparison of music performance anxiety to a laboratory stressor. In: International Symposium on Performance Science 2011, 24-27 August 2011, Canada.


This study extends previous work investigating the cardiovascular reactivity to stress obtained in response to laboratory-based tasks to cardiovascular reactivity measured in response to a musical performance. Heart rate (HR) reactivity and psychological responses were measured in 52 female and 18 male healthy classically trained graduate students in two settings: during a standardized laboratory stressor (Stroop) and prior to a jury assessed musical performance of two pieces. HR and state anxiety (SAI) were assessed. Results indicate that while both conditions increased HR significantly, there was no difference in the magnitude of change in response to the musical performance and the laboratory stressors. However, the musical performance produced significantly higher levels of perceived anxiety between conditions. A greater correlation was observed for HR in between conditions compared with the relationship observed in the SAI responses. Some support is provided for the view that the Stroop could be used to identify higher HR responders to musical performance, although its efficacy to self perceptions of anxiety are less compelling.

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