Performance anxiety, or stage fright, is a serious and frequently incapacitating disorder among musicians. Decrements in performance resulting from this condition include somatic disturbances such as tremor, and disturbances of perceptual and cognitive function, such as distortions of time perception and failures of attention. Two experiments on the effects of anxiolytics on accuracy and consistency of performance are here described. Professional violinists who suffered from mild performance anxiety were asked to play repeating musical passages as accurately, consistently, and steadily as possible. The performances were recorded and subjected to computer analysis. In one experiment, the consumption of a small amount of alcohol was found to be associated with a significant increment in regularity of tempo, a marginally significant increment in steadiness in playing the notes, and yet a highly significant decrement in consistency of intonation. A second experiment which examined the effects of two prescription anxiolytics is also described.

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