(Joan Acocella’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 8/3.)

I Can’t Go On! What’s behind stagefright?

Sara Solovitch, in “Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright” (Bloomsbury), says that while she was a good pianist as a child, she fell apart—sweating, trembling—when she had to play for an audience. She got through the Eastman School of Music’s preparatory program. Then she quit studying piano, grew up, got married, had children, and became a journalist. In her late forties, though, she drifted back to the piano, taking a course at a community college. By this point, she had no professional ambitions. Surely, she thought, she would now be able to perform calmly. But when her teacher asked her, one night, to play in front of the class, her hands began shaking so hard that she could barely strike the keyboard: “I gazed down at myself from a distance high above the keys, watching a body that was no longer in charge. My fear was at the controls, like an independent organism emerging from inside me, my own Rosemary’s baby.”


View Playing Scared on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Scared-History-Memoir-Fright/dp/162040091X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438268488&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Playing+Scared%3A+A+History+and+Memoir+of+Stage+Fright%E2%80%9D

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