Magazine article American Music Teacher

Performance Anxiety: Guilt, Shame and Coping

Magazine article American Music Teacher

Performance Anxiety: Guilt, Shame and Coping

Article excerpt

There has been a great deal of research published over the past couple of decades concerning various aspects of music performance anxiety. Perhaps between reading helpful articles and attending outstanding workshops you feel that you are "au courant" on this topic and incorporating all the latest information. I know my exposure to past and current information on this topic has changed how I approach my students' and my own performance anxieties. A newly published study, however, investigates this issue from a difference angle that I hope you will find intriguing.

The Method

Titled "How guilt/shame proneness and coping styles are related to music performance anxiety and stress symptoms by gender," (1) this study surveyed 399 vocal and instrumental education students training in six university music education departments and conservatories in Turkey. Four surveys were administered to these students:

1. Performance Anxiety Scale for Music Students (PASMS): Developed by the authors, it used a Likert-type scale that measured Music Performance Anxiety (MPA) in university-level students with "three sub-scales: fear of the stage (e.g., 'I am so anxious during concerts that some-times I cannot even read the notes'), symptoms (e.g. 'While playing pieces during concerts, I think that I am going to panic'), and avoidance (e.g., 'Whenever the idea of playing on the stage comes to my mind, I try to think of something')."

2. Guilt and Shame Questionnaire (GSQ): Measuring proneness to guilt and shame, it also had a negative correlation to depression.

3. Coping Style Scale (CSS): Adapted for the Turkish population, it consisted of 30 items such as, "I made a plan of action and followed it," "Hoped a miracle would happen." Analyses revealed five coping approaches--optimistic, self-confident, helpless, submissive and seeking social support.

4. Stress Symptoms Scale (SSS): A 70-item, Likert-like scale adapted for Turkish participants, it explored "symptoms observed in the seven systems of the body (e.g., sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, endocrine system, immune system)." (2)

The Results

In harmony with several other studies conducted in the past decade, this study suggests that women experience both shame and guilt more intensely than men. The researchers write:

The results of the present study revealed significant gender
differences on both MPA and stress.... [H]elpless coping predicted
dependent variables for both sexes but shame proneness was a
significant predictor only for females. It is clear that females have a
disadvantage in the face of stressful situations in social,
educational, and occupational life. … 
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