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Performance Anxiety Quiz: True or False?

Performance Anxiety Quiz: True or False?

Which person or persons, in the questions below, struggled with performance anxiety as an adult? Mr. Z., 29 years old, froze up on stage when he played his cello because his parents got divorced when he was 2 years old. Ms. A developed tendonitis in her arm because she was angry with her father. John’s […]

Time Capsule: Back to the Future

Time Capsule: Back to the Future

I am about to go back to my  past. I am preparing to return to my musical alma mater, The Juilliard School. I graduated from Juilliard many years ago with two degrees – majoring in piano performance. But I also joke with people that my “minor” was in performance anxiety. Because of – of despite […]

From Past to Present and Back Again: My Performance Anxiety and Book Signing at Juilliard

From Past to Present and Back Again: My Performance Anxiety and Book Signing at Juilliard

I promised I’d tell you more after my book signing for “Melodies of the Mind” at Juilliard October 4.  I entered and graduated from Juilliard many years ago as a pianist – but a performer who struggled mightily with stage fright.  I returned to Juilliard this time as a psychoanalyst and author.  So here goes…… […]

Music as Psychological and Social Commentary

Music as Psychological and Social Commentary

  One of my all time favorite musicals is “West Side Story” with music by Leonard Bernstein. I hesitated as I wrote the previous sentence. Not because of any doubt about “West Side Story”, but rather, what should I call “it”? It is a Broadway musical, it is a play, it is an American Opera, […]

Performance Anxiety and Pumpkins

Performance Anxiety and Pumpkins

You may ask: what do performance anxiety and pumpkins have in common? First I have to tell you about my good friend, Patty. Patty has been my friend ever since we were in kindergarten.  We stayed friends all the way through high school.  Then we became separated by miles, life events, and passing years.  We […]

Performance Anxiety and Nelson Mandela

Performance Anxiety and Nelson Mandela

I doubt Nelson Mandela ever thought of himself as a psychologist or as someone who made comments that are relevant about performance anxiety. Following his recent death, when reading many news accounts about his remarkable life and his attitudes, I came to think of him as someone who not only had much to say about […]

Performance Anxiety and Therapy in a Jar

Performance Anxiety and Therapy in a Jar

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to de-clutter my house. What better place to begin than clearing the kitchen counters of all the unordered and unwanted magazines, brochures, and flyers from uninvited merchants that have accumulated over the holidays? How so many of these periodicals find my mailbox is beyond my comprehension and certainly […]

Performance Anxiety and Potholes: Can Accidents be Avoided?

Performance Anxiety and Potholes: Can Accidents be Avoided?

I was driving around town recently and gradually realized that I was not as aware of the ice and snow that had been coating our roads for several weeks. Previously, I had been driving defensively on our treacherous streets, fearful of skidding – or of being skidded into by another vehicle.   Miraculously the temperatures sneaked above […]

An Apple a Day

An Apple a Day

Dear Apple, You’ve been a part of my adult life for as long as I can remember.  I love that melodic F Major chord you sing when I turn you on. We have come of age together although I am older than you are.  I still remember the pencil and paper and ballpoint pen.  I […]

Filling the Gaps

Filling the Gaps

If you are anything like me, you have been horrified and mystified by the disappearance of Malaysian Airline Flight 370 on March 8.  How could a Boeing 777 jetliner carrying 239 people just disappear from the sky about an hour after take-off? With no apparent signals of distress, the jumbo jet evaded radar and satellite […]

Is Money Worth the Price?

Is Money Worth the Price?

In 1966 William J.  Baumol and William G. Bowen,  two distinguished economists at Princeton University  (Bowen was  subsequently President of that Institution),  wrote a monumental book called Performing Arts: An Economic Dilemma.  The year of its publication does not reflect any out -of -date information about the performing arts.  An enduring classic in it’s field, […]

Cancellation: Are the Skies Friendly?

Cancellation: Are the Skies Friendly?

For many months, my  husband and I had been planning a a special vacation.   Due to unforeseen circumstances, not illness, we were forced to cancel the trip.  We plan to reschedule it. When this became apparent, I needed to cancel our flight reservations.  This meant contacting the airline  –  definitely not my favorite pastime […]

I Never Thought I Could…

I Never Thought I Could…

Have you ever done something you thought you could not do? I did yesterday. On March 18, 2013 our beloved cat, Cadenza, had to be euthanized. All of us knew it was “time” – even Cadenza knew. He had put up a brave and long battle with his final illness. He never suffered and received […]

Defeat Depression!!

Defeat Depression!!

Robin Williams is dead. Depression is alive. He made us laugh. Now he makes us cry. Robin Williams must have been crying too before he ended his life. We are fascinated with celebrity. We live in the fantasy worlds created on stage and screen. We identify with famous people on the big screen or the […]

Don’t Worry About It

Don’t Worry About It

My piano teacher at Juilliard used to tell me “don’t worry about it” when I complained about my stage fright. This brilliant and sensitive man who cared very much about me would add, “I’m not worried about you so don’t you worry about you”. Even Bobby McFerrin sang “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. How could these […]

Installation Anxiety

Installation Anxiety

What I dreaded would happen actually happened today. I had put off the inevitable. Today I could not avoid it any longer. Several months ago I received a notice from my cable provider that customers needed to install a new modem. This device had to be ordered directly from the cable company. A simple do–it-yourself […]

Ebola Anxiety and Mental Terrorism

Ebola Anxiety and Mental Terrorism

World and national news has been horrific especially in the last couple of days. The lone-wolf terror attack in Ottawa and the ax attack on four policemen in New York just hours later  put more atrocities in national news. Scenes from Ottawa were replayed and incessantly analyzed on TV. I happened to be at home; […]

Meltdown

Meltdown

Thanksgiving 2014 is now over. It is my favorite holiday.  Thanksgiving marks the end of the heat of summer,  the arrival of  the crisp days and cold nights of fall, leaves turning radiant colors, and often a dusting of November snow. Work has been going full steam ahead. The idea of having a day or […]

What a Black Cat Taught Me About Writer’s Block

What a Black Cat Taught Me About Writer’s Block

I have writer’s block. I really want to write a blog. I enjoy writing. I have lots of ideas swirling in my mind. I can’t get traction with any of them. So I am going to write about my block and just see what comes up. Maybe some thought will emerge and unblock me as […]

Is Overachievement a Threat to Your Mental Health?

Is Overachievement a Threat to Your Mental Health?

  It got me thinking. That recent New York Times article by Frank Bruni (April 11, 2015). …teenage suicides in Palo Alto, California…pressures to succeed among young people…Center for Disease Control data showing an increase in suicides among young people between ages 10 and 24 in 2013 . http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-best-brightest-and-saddest.html?_r=0. An underlying factor implied in these […]

You Can Do It!

You Can Do It!

Have you avoided doing something because you thought you were Not smart enough? Not thin enough? Not rich enough? Not talented enough? Not athletic enough? Not________(fill the blank) enough?   How often have you sold yourself short? Afraid to try a new challenge? On May 17, I did something I never thought I could or […]

How To Increase Performance Anxiety!!!!

How To Increase Performance Anxiety!!!!

A number of authors have written about performance anxiety, including myself. Ideas about coping with this mental demon have included concrete suggestions and exercises, using medications, engaging in various kinds of exercise, nutrition, counseling, meditation, yoga, and professional psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. I have even heard that eating bananas will decrease performance anxiety. The list below […]

Is There a “Cure” for Stage Fright? Part I

Is There a “Cure” for Stage Fright? Part I

Harold was the Executive Director of a philanthropic organization. Anita was a professor. Carol was a writer. Oliver was a musical performer. Bill was an elite athlete. Although they had never heard of nor met one another, they shared something in common. Each person suffered from haunting, debilitating stage fright. Harold presented his weekly and […]

Five Golden Rings

Five Golden Rings

I will never forget my first memory slip. I was six years old. It occurred in my piano teacher’s studio. I had composed several short compositions and was recording them. This is what I remember. I lived in New York until I was 4 years old. My parents gave me a little white toy piano […]

I Spent The Night With Beethoven

I Spent The Night With Beethoven

I want to share something very personal. I spent the night with Beethoven. I felt immersed, involved, caressed by sound, energized, understood…………. I was absorbed deep within my private emotional orbit of pleasure, poignancy, and memory. I was oblivious to the world outside my own, although I was in the midst of approximately 2,000 people. […]

Lost In Performance

Lost In Performance

Brilliant Chinese pianist Yundi (Li Yundi), youngest winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000, had a devastating evening according to Korean music critic Ilbum Chang  after attending his October 30th concert at the Seoul Arts Center. Yundi got lost when playing Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra  conducted by David Robertson. The […]

Back to School Anxiety and Performance Anxiety

Back to School Anxiety and Performance Anxiety

I overheard the following conversations recently: Two teens are talking in an ice cream shop: Teen1: I got just the class schedule I wanted for next year but now I hear they are making changes, and I worry that I am going to have my classes mixed up. I won’t be with my friends if […]

Kermit the Frog Manages Stage Fright

Kermit the Frog Manages Stage Fright

  His voice was raspy and his speech was tentative on the phone when he called to inquire about meeting with me. He sounded anxious as he explained that when he sang in public he warbled and croaked. He said he felt nervous, depressed and blue. He identified himself only as K. We scheduled an […]

Count Down: Managing Stage Fright

Count Down: Managing Stage Fright

It is still November, but to me it almost feels almost like New Years Eve. I can imagine the Ball dropping at Times Square in New York at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 31. I am counting down now ……to November 30. The words of the song “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story come […]

ARE YOU A GENIUS?

ARE YOU A GENIUS?

In the movie Genius, while mulling over his comments on a manuscript by Thomas Wolfe, editor Maxwell Perkins (Max), ponders, “do my edits make his writing better or just different?” As we learn in the movie, Max, who worked closely with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, helped talented young author Thomas Wolfe shape his […]

Resolutions and Re Solutions for the New Year

Resolutions and Re Solutions for the New Year

I am writing this article on New Year’s morning, 2018. I woke up today and welcomed the new year with the thought of making some resolutions – a ritual that is common for many of us. Have you made any yet? Accomplished any so far? Broken any? Writing this blog has been on my mind […]

A REVISED DREAM: JOURNEY FROM PIANIST TO AUTHOR

A REVISED DREAM: JOURNEY FROM PIANIST TO AUTHOR

I first entered The Juilliard School as a piano student when I was 17 years old. Embarking on a life’s dream since childhood, I was on a journey to become a concert pianist. I did not really know what that meant, but I envisioned playing piano on stage, performing gorgeous music I loved, and wearing […]

HOW TO INHIBIT SUCCESS IN MUSIC STUDENTS

HOW TO INHIBIT SUCCESS IN MUSIC STUDENTS

A decision to pursue a career in the performing arts is a lifelong and complex undertaking. Musicians begin instrument lessons in early childhood, when the ego and talent are developing simultaneously. During these young vulnerable years and at any age, music teachers and schools can inhibit their creativity, musical and personal growth by emphasizing various […]

THINKING AND FEELING ABOUT PERFORMING

THINKING AND FEELING ABOUT PERFORMING

Performing is not only about playing the music or giving a talk or taking a test. Performing also reveals thoughts and feelings about yourself which, in turn, have an impact on your comfort and competence both on and off stage. In our emotional lives, both unhelpful and helpful thoughts (note: not good and bad thoughts) […]

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE!!

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE!!

The late, great comedian Jack Benny (who was also a very fine violinist) was known for his (supposed) stinginess spending his own money. In a classic TV skit, Benny was accosted by a robber who commanded him to stick up his hands and demanded “your money or your life”. With his characteristic lengthy pause that […]

PARTS UNKNOWN

PARTS UNKNOWN

Last week, within days of each other, we lost two beloved and admired public icons: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Both died from suicide. Both were at the pinnacle of their careers and success. Or so we thought. While I did not know either celebrity personally, I felt a jolt, a sense of loss, sadness, […]

YOU COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP…………….

YOU COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP…………….

While this blog is about a recent experience of mine, it feels somewhat self-serving in light of the trauma that is being lived currently by the parents and children who are separated at the US border as well as the soccer team in Thailand waiting for rescue. My heart goes out to these brave people. […]

ATTITUDE: TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOURSELF!

ATTITUDE: TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOURSELF!

I lost my dear friend and colleague, Roy Schafer, on August 5. He was a few months short of turning 96 years old. Roy Schafer, psychoanalyst/psychologist extraordinaire and recipient of numerous prestigious awards, is known for his original work that helped people find their inner voice by telling their personal life story (or narrative). All […]

I GOT LOCKED IN THE BATHROOM

I GOT LOCKED IN THE BATHROOM

I got locked in the bathroom last night. I bet I also just got your attention. Why am I writing about this experience on a blog about stage fright? Here are some details of my misadventure. I think you will understand. Last night, we were about to sit down for a family dinner at our […]

Rethinking the Master Class (not for pianists only!)

Rethinking the Master Class (not for pianists only!)

Let’s rethink about a new model for the Master Class, traditionally a format for educational, and sometimes intimidating, sessions where a student performs before an audience of peers and teachers. An esteemed guest teacher, by reputation a “Master”, makes comments about technique, musicianship, and other musical issues. In the new format that I will describe, […]

NUMBER, PLEASE…………

NUMBER, PLEASE…………

“You have reached — — —-. I am unable to come to the phone right now. Please leave your name, number, and a message, and I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you for calling.” If you phoned me at my office and I could not answer, you should have received this […]

KEEP YOUR OPTIONS  OPEN!

KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN!

The above program was offered on February 3, 2007 at The University of Michigan School of Music. At that time, Louis Nagel was Director of Outreach and I was Chair of the Ann Arbor Committee of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. The contents of the program, which was interdisciplinary and co-sponsored, are as relevant today as […]

#Me Too: The Lure of Celebrity

#Me Too: The Lure of Celebrity

Joan Acocella has brought jaw-dropping secrets from backstage to center stage in her graphic New Yorker article regarding the scandals and unethical behaviors at the New York City Ballet (Feb. 18 and 25th edition). I am left thinking about what can be done to change the attitudes, behaviors, silences, accusations, and, to date, non-resolutions of […]

MANAGING  MEMORY SLIPS: DEVELOP A MENTAL TOOL BOX

MANAGING MEMORY SLIPS: DEVELOP A MENTAL TOOL BOX

“Ohhhh Nooooo!!! he thought. Here comes that difficult passage. Daniel was in the middle of his concert. “I know I can play it at home. But it has never gone well in public. “So far so good, but I am afraid my technique will collapse with all that technique that’s necessary for the rapid scales. […]

SPRING CLEANING YOUR MUSICAL MENTAL CLOSET

SPRING CLEANING YOUR MUSICAL MENTAL CLOSET

I have been intending to do my spring cleaning – for many years! I have stashed possessions in boxes and bags and put them in closets out of sight. It is so much easier to talk about cleaning out closets and getting rid of clutter than actually doing it. Practicing is also like that! Just […]

THINKING ABOUT THINKING

THINKING ABOUT THINKING

What do you think about when you think about performing? Take a few minutes before reading further and write down your thoughts. I am listing below some frequent responses about performance that I have heard from teachers, students, and non musicians as well (performance anxiety is universal!!): *I am afraid I will make mistakes. *I […]

#ME TOO AND MUSIC STUDENTS

#ME TOO AND MUSIC STUDENTS

Edited excerpts are shared here from my longer interview on the Alfred Music Blog following my presentation on #Me Too and Music Teaching at the Music Teachers National Conference in March 2019. Other topics covered in this interview will be added to the blog at a later date. (Alfred.com) INTERVIEWER:You gave a session called “#MeToo: […]

“WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU…………”

“WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU…………”

You get a letter that begins “we are pleased to inform you…..” Doesn’t it feel wonderful when you have a proposal accepted, or you are invited to give a presentation, or you receive an award, or you see your work published, or you get enthusiastic feedback for your work? You enjoy feeling appreciated by others […]

IT FEELS RIGHT!

IT FEELS RIGHT!

I vividly remember when my daughter, around her 10th birthday, choose her full size violin. She had gravitated to a small violin around 7 years old when a friend, a violin teacher, asked if she would like to try playing it. It was absolutely astounding to hear her pick up that little instrument for the […]