Performance Anxiety and Fear of Failure

In the competitive world of music, performers often feel the need to impress friends, family, other performers, colleagues, judges, and audiences.  If you want to be a successful performer, trying hard and caring about pleasing others seems like a good idea.  However, performers who care too much about what others think often struggle with a need to be accepted, respected, or liked by others.  This need is often fueled by a fear of failure.   The fear of failure encompasses many common fears:


  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of letting others down
  • Fear of not performing up to their own or others’ expectations
  • Fear of negative reaction
  • Fear of rejection or not gaining approval

Performers who struggle with fear of failure have a strong desire to succeed and rely on the reactions, feedback, and praise of others to boost their self-esteem that is closely tied to their level of their performances.  Their fear is also tied to the over-motivation to succeed.  This sets in motion a vicious cycle.  The more the performer wants to succeed, the more they care about what others think and the harder they try to perform well.  It is important for these musicians to realize that no amount of practice or fixing the music or their technique will extinguish this fear.  The harder they try, the harder it is for them to handle any perceived failure so they often perform to avoid making mistakes, embarrassment—ultimately, failure.

Performers who deal with this type of fear experience high levels of performance anxiety.  They inadvertently sabotage their own performances.  Their desire to succeed actually has an adverse effect on their performances as anxiety, tension, high expectations, lack of trust, and lack of confidence undermine their performing.

If you have trouble performing well in public, you set strict expectations for performance, you focus primarily on outcomes, or you care too much what others think you may likely struggle with fear of failure.  It is important to get to the bottom of your fear–find out the source.  Once you do, you can begin to work through it and learn to eith embrace it or let it go.  Let me know how you have dealt with fear in your performing or contact me today.




Print Friendly


  1. I am a student from tehran univercity(iran)i study music and phycology and i have an article about performance and thank you so much for your articles they are so usefull for my project.i want to speak more with you, you have good knowlege about performance.thank you.

Leave a Reply to simin Cancel reply