A new process called biofeedback training holds promise as treatment for stage fright.
Musical Performance Anxiety (MPA) is a severe form of stage fright marked by high anxiety levels and impaired performance and up to 72 per cent of all musicians may suffer from MPA. Like other forms of stage fright, MPA is a complex experience that has mental, emotional, physiological, and psychological components.
University student-musicians were taught techniques to control their heart rhythm patterns and focus their thoughts and emotions, after they performed once on stage. After a heart rate biofeedback device provided feedback, they were asked to perform again.
The results showed a 71 per cent decrease in performance anxiety and a 62 per cent improvement in performance. When applied in other areas of their lives the procedure reported an increased sense of calmness, improved anger management, better sleep and generally more relaxed feelings.
Biofeedback training is easy, inexpensive, fast-acting, and noninvasive and there are no side effects or potentially harmful drug interactions.
The techniques work by sending signals between parts of the brain-heart-body system through the heart rhythm patterns (heartbeat), nerves, hormones and electrical impulses. When there is better communication or synchronicity between these systems, people often feel a sense of well-being, calmness and mental clarity. This is known as psycho physiological coherence, and it can enhance efficiency, promote health and emotional stability and increase brain function and performance.