Performance anxiety and stress are forefront problems for performers in the music industry. Within music training programs, these problems are particularly debilitating. These students are concerned both about performance situations and also their personal lives. The following study compared two treatments, heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) on the effects of cortisol and self-reported stress and mood before and after a required end of semester performance. Thirty students enrolled in a college music program participated in the five-visit intervention (14 in the HRV biofeedback group and 16 in the CFT group). Stress levels, measured by self-report, salivary cortisol, and salivary alpha amylase, showed no group differences between the CFT and HRV groups. Both groups had statistically significant improvement following the intervention on pre-performance DASS scores and alpha-amylase scores, showing lower sympathetic activation and lower report of mood symptoms despite the stress of the required performance. Cortisol and negative affect did not appear to be impacted by the intervention, however, cortisol returned to baseline levels 15 minutes after the intervention, showing relatively quick recovery for both groups. Further research with a larger, more diverse sample and control group is warranted.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Austin, Tara, "Stress and Performance Anxiety Intervention for Musicians:
A Biofeedback and Compassion Focused Therapy Intervention" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 9020.
musicians, stress, anxiety, performance anxiety, HRV biofeedback, Compassion Focused Therapy