Introduction to Performance Psychology

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Have you ever wondered why you can play at a high level when you're practicing alone at home, but as soon as you play in front of other people, your hands start shaking, your heart starts racing, and everything begins to fall apart?

If you have ever felt crippled by anxiety, this four-module course is your first step to developing the psychological skills that will help you perform at your best under pressure.

Created by Juilliard’s Dr. Noa Kageyama, whose performance psychology classes are a favorite among Juilliard music students, the course combines applied exercises, insights gleaned from interviews with renowned performers, and research in performance psychology and motor learning.

You will learn how to overcome your fears around performing in front of an audience and discover how universal the experience of performance anxiety is amongst musicians at all levels – from beginner to professional.

The three psychological skills covered in this course are:

  • Practice that Sticks;
  • Beating Anxiety;
  • Getting (and Staying) in the Zone.


Week 1: Introduction:
In this module, you will learn:

  • That performance anxiety is a common issue many musicians and professional athletes struggle with;
  • The value of these skills and how they will help you to perform more consistently at your full ability.

Week 2: Practice that Sticks
In this module, you will learn:

  • How to differentiate between “Practice Practice” and “Performance Practice”;
  • How to apply basic theoretical ideas about deliberate practice into the weekly exercise/assignment.

Week 3: Beating Anxiety
In this module, you will learn:

  • Why the idea that “less anxiety is better” is a myth (and what the research suggests is the true relationship between anxiety and performance);
  • How to apply basic theoretical ideas from this module into the weekly exercise/assignment. 

Week 4: Getting (and Staying) in the Zone
In this module, you will learn:

  • The thought that leads to choking under pressure, and how you can avoid falling into this trap;
  • A mental strategy that keeps your mind focused in the present, and enables you to clear your mind of thoughts and worries about making mistakes.