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Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright Hardcover – June 16, 2015
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“Interspersed with her own story, Solovitch provides plenty of context on performance anxiety in general . . . For those who similarly suffer, and they are legion, the book suggests, the memoir offers comfort and hope.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“There is a wide range of behavioral and mental exercises that might help [the physical symptoms of anxiety], and these are the main subject of Sara Solovitch's PLAYING SCARED.” ―The New Yorker
“Readers will find her story fascinating.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Solovitch's book is not just a memoir, but a practical guide for the multitudes who share her . . . performing fears. One of the unexpected pleasures of the book is Solovitch's description of playing the piano . . . her dedication to her craft and the joy she experiences as she immerses herself in the music.” ―BookPage
“One of the strengths of this book is the clarity and confidence of Solovitch's prose.” ―Weekly Standard
“Not only has Sara Solovitch written a gripping and compelling tale of her own journey as a musical performer confronting stage fright, Playing Scared will hold significance for anyone who fears the spotlight, whether in the boardroom, on the playing field or on stage. Masterfully done!” ―Jennifer L. Eberhardt, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University and a 2014 MacArthur Fellow
“Who knew that stage fright was so widespread--the sad secret of many musicians, athletes, actors, and people from all walks of life who dissolve when giving a talk to a dozen people? Brava to Solovitch for weaving the fascinating history of stage fright together with her own experience of playing the piano literally scared stiff, and for enriching all of us by sharing her triumphant story.” ―Katie Hafner, author of MOTHER DUGHTER ME and A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS: GLENN GOULD'S OBSESSIVE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PIANO
“If your knees knock, your heart races and your sweat glands become hydrants at the terrifying prospect of taking the stage, you're in good company. I once had stage fright. So did Sara Solovitch. If you're in the club, fear not. This book will set you free.” ―Steve Lopez, author of THE SOLOIST: A LOST DREAM, AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP AND THE REDEMPTIVE POWER OF MUSIC
“This fascinating book is a memoir of the author's journey from uncontrollable stage fright as a young pianist to the joy of recovery in middle age . . . and there are quite a few useful tips along the way.” ―Stephen Hough, concert pianist and composer
About the Author
Sara Solovitch is a former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer whose articles have appeared in Esquire, Wired, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. She has been a health columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and worked as a medical writer at Stanford University. This is her first book. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.
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Top customer reviews
“A 2014 survey by the online research and consulting firm YouGov reported that 56 percent of Americans were ‘very’ or ‘a little’ afraid of public speaking. But it wasn’t their top-ranking fear; snakes and heights ranked higher. Among the British, YouGov found the same prevalence of public-speaking anxiety, but that figure exceeded a fear of heights and snakes” (177). Whoo!
Or, allow this to soak in:
“By 1987, a survey by the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, which represents instrumentalists in dozens of major orchestras, revealed that 27 percent of its members used beta-blockers. Of those, 70 percent got the drug from colleagues”(108). For those who don’t know, beta-blockers are a medicine that slows down the heart, gives the person a physical sense of calm.
Solovitch’s journey is a long one. She begins studying piano as a young child and continues throughout college. As an adult, she gives up performance and actually becomes a journalist, creating a successful career. However, she reaches a point where she feels she not only wishes to play again but wishes to conquer her extreme stage fright (sweaty palms, limbs that quake/my most dreadful symptom seems to be the emission of rather acrid farts). Over a number of years Solovitch must consult scores of experts: other musicians, therapists, both physical and psychological, sports coaches and many more. In the end she sets a goal for herself: to play at age sixty a challenging piano recital in front of a large audience of family, friends, and other musicians. Her journey is a remarkable one, one that’s instructive for all of us, whether we’re musicians, performers, speakers, or even audience members. Important to remember are those who appear before us, that they may be suffering from performance anxiety, the preferred term, and we can by our very understanding help them by being attentive and understanding and most of all, forgiving, something performers often cannot do themselves.
However, because Sara is an amateur she can say things in the book that no professional pianist would ever admit to....The honesty is what makes the book stand out.
Most recent customer reviews
as I perform occasionally. Bravo Sara!