Evaluation of a yoga intervention for music performance anxiety in conservatory students: a pilot study
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Objective: This study examined the potential benefits of a 9-week yoga practice on music performance anxiety (MPA) and mood in undergraduate and graduate music conservatory students, including vocalists and instrumentalists. Previous studies using elite musicians showed improvements in both variables. The current study used a less intensive yoga program more likely to be within the reach of the average music student. Methods: The program consisted of fourteen 60-minute classes approximately twice a week, plus shorter home practice. Assessments were administered at baseline, posttreatment, and long-term follow-up 7-14 months later. Measures included two self-report questionnaires assessing MPA (Performance Anxiety Questionnaire, PAQ, and Kenny Music Performance Anxiety Inventory, K-MPAI), and questionnaires assessing trait anxiety and mood. Heart rate and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were measured at baseline and posttreatment. Of the 24 students enrolled in the study, 17 participants attended both the baseline and posttreatment assessments. Nine of these participants returned follow up questionnaires. Results: Completer analyses, including only participants who completed the measure at both baseline and posttreatment, and intent-to-treat last observation carried forward analyses were performed. Participants showed significant decreases in MPA from baseline to posttreatment as measured by the K-MPAI and the PAQ solo performance subscale with large effect sizes for completers, and medium-to-large effect sizes using the ITT analysis. PAQ scores for group performance situations showed a significant decrease before, but not after, correcting for multiple comparisons. PAQ scores for music practice situations did not decrease significantly. Exploratory analysis revealed that participants' trait anxiety scores decreased significantly from baseline to posttreatment, with a large effect size for completers. Improvements were sustained at long-term follow-up. No significant treatment effects were detected for mood states, heart rate, or RSA. Participants reported finding the intervention both enjoyable and beneficial. Conclusions: Yoga, a holistic mind-body practice with cognitive and somatic elements, is a promising intervention for MPA in conservatory students. The results of this uncontrolled study warrant larger, randomized controlled studies on the impact of yoga on MPA.
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