Conservatory students turn to beta blockers to ease performance anxiety

Posted on: March 3, 2010

“Joshua Rohde smiled backstage as he wiped loose rosin off his cello,” writes Ian Larson in Monday’s (3/1) Minnesota Daily (University of Minnesota). “ ‘I’m excited for this. I don’t know if I’m like the average musician who’s wetting their pants right here.’ The University of Minnesota School of Music senior tuned his A string while he waited to go on stage for his senior recital—the culmination of a lifetime of study and practice. After seeing his flushed face in the mirror, Rohde admitted he was a little anxious. … The pressure can be high on stage and even higher during auditions, but some musicians are finding a solution to their big performance anxiety problems in a little white pill. The drugs, known as beta blockers, plug the body’s beta receptors and prevent adrenaline from taking effect. Without that adrenaline, the sweaty palms, soaring heart rate and anxiety that plague performers largely disappear. Most students say beta blockers are not commonly used, but some quietly acknowledge that the drug is more common than outsiders would imagine or administrators might like to admit.”

Posted March 3, 2010