Joan Acocella on stagefright

I almost missed this terrific meditation on Stage Fright by Joan Acocella in the New Yorker from a couple of weeks back. Essential reading (though behind a paywall).

Stagefright has not been heavily studied, which is strange because, as Solovitch tells us, it is common not only among those who make their living on the stage but among the rest of us, too. In 2012, two researchers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Karen Dwyer and Marlina Davidson, administered a survey to eight hundred and fifteen college students, asking them to select their three greatest fears from a list that included, among other things, heights, flying, financial problems, deep water, death, and “speaking before a group.” Speaking before a group beat out all the others, even death.

Chloe Veltman on Overcoming Stage Fright

Sara Solovitch used to freeze up during public performances. Here’s a good piece from Chloe Veltman on KQED on overcoming this kind of difficulty.

For the past three years, Solovitch has been coming regularly to San Jose International airport to play the beat-up Hamilton baby grand located in the Terminal B baggage claim area.

“Here, I’m not worried about people’s judgment and evaluation,” Solovitch said. “People aren’t listening and that’s kind of a godsend to me.”

In classical music, there’s a huge amount of emphasis on “getting it right”. While that can make for extraordinary athletic feats from performers, the trade-off is that we can become profoundly self-critical when we mess up. Often the best cure for that is low-pressure performance like this.