Effects of Heart Rate Variability Coherence Biofeedback Training and Emotional Management Techniques to Decrease Music Performance Anxiety
Thurber, M.R., Bodenhamer-Davis, E., Johnson, M., Chesky, K., Chandler, C. K.
Biofeedback, 2010. 38(1): p. 28-39.
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Due to the prevalence of music performance anxiety and the emergence of new biofeedback technologies used to decrease anxiety, student musicians were recruited to participate in an experimental repeated-measures study to identify effects of heart rate variability coherence biofeedback training and emotional self-regulation techniques on music performance anxiety and music performance. Fourteen students were assigned randomly to a treatment or control group following a 5-minute unaccompanied baseline performance. Treatment group participants received 4-5 heart rate variability training sessions of 30-50 minutes each. Training included bibliotherapy, computerized heart rate variability biofeedback training, emotional regulation exercises, and use of a portable heart rate variability training device. Measures included the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Performance Anxiety Inventory, Flow State Scale, average heart rate, and heart rate variability. Quade's rank-transformed analysis of covariance was used to evaluate treatment and no-treatment group comparisons. Combined music performance anxiety scores showed statistically significant improvement at a ρ = .05 level with a large effect size of ηρ2 = .320. State anxiety measurement showed a large effect size of ηρ2 = .291. The Performance Anxiety Inventory showed a large effect size of ηρ2 = .149. Heart rate showed a large effect size of ηρ2 = .143. Heart rate variability showed statistical significance at ρ = .001 level and a large effect size of ηρ2 =.698. The treatment group average subjective decrease in music performance anxiety was 71%, and the treatment group average subjective improvement in performance was 62%. This study demonstrated statistical and practical/clinical significance of a relatively quick and inexpensive biofeedback training that had a large effect on decreasing mental, emotional, and physiological aspects of music performance anxiety and subjective improvement of performance for university students.