Cellist practices alone in the sunlight

Virtual reality can be a big help in overcoming stage fright!

This is so cool!  Here’s the situation. “Musicians stage fright” is a very real thing, as many musicians know.

Too often, music students (even working performers) don’t get the chance to get comfortable being seen or heard by a live audience before they are faced with the real thing. They don’t have an opportunity to have that “all eyes on me” experience, and get familiar with a variety of audience responses.They also don’t have a chance to get used to those highly stressful auditions before they have to face them for real. In those settings, the competition is high and the consequences can be costly.

This is fertile ground for stage fright to surface, because, as you may have heard me say before, the “threat perceiving”, emotionally vigilant, part of our brain tends to be very uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, especially in high risk situations.

This is the same with any kind of performing, whether it be singing, acting, speaking, test taking, competitions, job interviews, and on and on. The way our brains respond to performance situations is the same, regardless of the setting or kind of performance.

How a Performance Simulator can help with musicians stage fright (or any other kind of performance anxiety).

The emotional part of our brain (the limbic system) with it’s fear sensor (the amygdala) kicks in whenever there is a perceived emotional threat in our environment and causes the adrenaline response that we all know as stage fright. The amygdala is especially uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations.

This is why, when there is not enough real practice available, practicing with the virtual reality performance (or audience) simulator can help the real performance situation feel more familiar when the time for the real performance arrives.

But the Royal College of Music in London is trying something new. Here is a link to their article.


With the advent of virtual reality, I often use an audience simulator app with my clients whether it is for musicians stage fright, fear of public speaking or any other kind of performance setting.