Stage fright is one of the human psyche's deepest fears. Laurence Olivier learned to adapt to it, as have actors Salma Hayek and Hugh Grant. Musicians such as George Harrison and Adele have battled it and learned to cope. Others never do: In 1973, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star pitcher Steve Blass suddenly could no longer find the strike zone; his career ended soon after.Read more...
Stage fright is one of the human psyche's deepest fears. Laurence Olivier learned to adapt to it, as have actors Salma Hayek and Hugh Grant. Musicians such as George Harrison and Adele have battled it and learned to cope. Others never do: In 1973, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star pitcher Steve Blass suddenly could no longer find the strike zone; his career ended soon after. Surveys in the United States repeatedly rank public speaking as one of the top fears, affecting up to 74 percent of people.
Sara Solovitch studied piano as a young child and fell in love with music. At ten, she played Bach and Mozart in her hometown's annual music festival, but was overwhelmed by fear. As a teen, she attended Eastman School of Music, where stage fright led her to give up aspirations of becoming a professional pianist. In her late fifties, Sara gave herself a one-year deadline to tame performance anxiety and play before an audience. She resumed music lessons, while exploring meditation, exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, beta blockers, and other remedies. She performed in airports, hospitals, and retirement homes before renting a public hall and performing for fifty guests on her sixtieth birthday.
Using her own journey as inspiration, Solovitch has written a thoughtful and insightful examination of the myriad causes of stage fright and the equally diverse ways to overcome it, and a tribute to pursuing personal growth at any age.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Solovitch, who once pursued a career as a concert pianist, recounts her decades-long struggle to overcome the devastating and crippling stage fright that forced her to quit the piano at age 19. After 30 years, Solovitch, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, takes it up again at her youngest son’s insistence. With the help of a caring teacher, she begins to practice in new ways and realizes she’s “learning to play for the first time in my life.” But she’s still unable to perform for an audience. After years of study, Solovitch agrees to give a concert at home for three people, which is a disaster. She then decides to give herself a year to get ready to perform a recital for her 60th birthday. Along the way she examines some of the psychological underpinnings of her condition (including a demanding mother who uprooted the family from Canada so that Solovitch could attend a conservatory in New York), discovers the benefits of beta blockers, tries exposure therapy (playing the piano at her local airport), and talks to well known sufferers, including former L.A. Dodger Steve Sax, who had a legendary case of “the yips” after being named Rookie of the Year. It’s a tough road, and readers will find her story fascinating. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel and Goderich Literary. (June)