Understanding performance anxiety in the adolescent musician
Research in musical performance anxiety so far has mainly focused on adult professional musicians. Additionally, studies have mostly maintained a `clinical approach' to musical performance anxiety, focusing on the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of maladaptive performance anxiety and its effects on selected groups of musicians. The aim of this thesis was to fill some of these gaps by exploring the experience of musical performance anxiety from the perspective of adolescent musicians. 410 students aged 12-19, all attending junior conservatoires and / or youth orchestras in the UK and Cyprus, responded to a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire dealt with a range of learning and performance issues and yielded both quantitative and qualitative data. Performance anxiety was measured with the Adolescent Musicians' Performance Anxiety Scale (AMPAS), designed specifically for the needs of this study. Results revealed that performance anxiety was an issue for a significant percentage of students. Differences in performance anxiety level intensity were related to nationality and gender, but not to age. Susceptibility to experiencing performance anxiety, task efficacy and quality of performance environment were important factors in determining the intensity of experienced performance anxiety. Performance anxiety was found to be a multi-faceted construct, influenced by a variety of factors relating to self-perceptions, situational parameters, identity and culture, and family environment. Student attainment was influenced by performance anxiety. Achievement of higher Grades was related to the experience of higher levels of performance anxiety and perceptions of receiving positive feedback were associated with lower perceived levels of anxiety. Performance anxiety influenced students' approaches to instrumental learning and performance, particularly in terms of susceptibility to maladaptive performance anxiety and negative perceptions of the impact of anxiety. Three types of students were identified in the data, each possessing different characteristics and experiencing anxiety and physiological arousal in musical performance in a distinctive way.