Performance Anxiety, Dysfunctional Attitudes and Gender in University Music Students

Article excerpt

The aims of this study were twofold: 1) to investigate the relationships between anxiety and general dysfunctional attitudes, perfectionism, and the need for approval in the solo performance examination of Turkish university music students, and 2) to examine the effects of perfectionism, need for approval, and gender on anxiety. Fifty-four instrumental music students participated in this study. Research data were collected using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (Beck, Epstein, Brown, & Steer, 1988) and the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (Weissman & Beck, 1978). The results revealed that there are significant positive correlations between anxiety and total score of dysfunctional attitudes, and the need for approval (p < .05). The ANOVA results also showed that while there was no main effect of perfectionism, need for approval and gender had significant effects (p < .05) on anxiety. However, interaction effects of perfectionism, need for approval, and gender on anxiety were not significant. Results are discussed in the context of related literature.

Keywords: anxiety, performance anxiety, music students, dysfunctional attitudes, perfectionism, need for approval.

Performance anxiety is a type of social anxiety (Kenny, 2005; Powell, 2004; Rodebaugh & Chambless, 2004) and is defined as an exaggerated fear that an individual has with regard to exhibition of performance in front of others (Wilson, 1999). Performance anxiety might occur in a range of anxiety-provoking situations including test taking, mathematics performance, public speaking, athletic activity, dance, acting, music performance (Kenny, 2006; Powell, 2004) as well as sexual performance (Bancroft et al., 2005; Birk, 2004; Perelman, 2003). Reviews of previous research have reflected that it is a widespread and problematic phenomenon for all types of performers, especially for musicians (Fehm & Schmidt, 2006; Kenny, 2006; Kenny, Davis, & Oates, 2004; Steptoe & Fidler, 1987; Wilson, 1999). For musicians, anxiety may cause some physical problems such as increased muscle tension, trembling (Davis, Meniti, & Richards, 2001), emotional problems such as lack of satisfaction with their performance caused by feelings of guilt and shame (Lee, 2002), and behavioral problems including forgetting notes or a part of a piece due to a temporary memory loss (Lee, 2002; Mishra, 2002; Powell, 2004) and vocal problems in singers (Davis et al.).

Some music educators state that anxiety in musicians generally results from insufficient preparation and suggest that practicing more would reduce anxiety. They also recommend that musicians who are anxious while performing music and have difficulties such as concentrating on the music, could take various steps to help themselves, such as taking a short nap before the performance (Davis, 1994; Nesmith, 2000). Davis states that these kinds of suggestions may be helpful for the low or moderately anxious performers, but musicians who experience severe anxiety need professional help.

Previous research has demonstrated that trait anxiety and gender were the best predictors of musical performance anxiety (Kenny, 2006). Some of the research findings showed that, for all age groups, musical performance anxiety has been observed two or three times more in female musicians than in males (Kenny, 2006; LeBlanc, Jin, Obert, & Siivola, 1997; Osborne & Franklin, 2002; Osborne, Kenny, & Holsomback, 2005; Rae & McCambridge, 2004; Ryan, 2004). In preperformance (Kokotsaki & Davidson, 2003) and evaluative situations anxiety is at its highest level in music performers (Craske & Craig, 1984, cited in Kenny, 2006; Fehm & Schmidt, 2006). In addition, catastrophic cognitions, irrational beliefs (Tobacky & Downs, 1986) and negative internal dialogs were the main cognitive characteristics of anxious performers (Davis, 1994; Fehm & Schmidt, 2006; Kenny, 2005; Osborne & Franklin, 2002; Rodebaugh & Chambless, 2004; Salmon & Meyer, 1992; Shultz, Heimberg, Rodebaugh, Schneider, Liebowitz, & Teich, 2006). …