Beta Blockers

Posted In: Performing

  • Participant
    Emily Granger on #188880

    I’m curious if there are other harpists out there who use beta blockers for high stress performance (solo recitals, orchestral auditions, competitions). Was it a teacher that recommend this was the only option for you to calm your nerves? Would you ever recommend to a struggling college student?

    sherry-lenox on #188887

    I am a VERY old woman and have performed for some 60 or so years with NO discomfort until I started playing the harp.
    Through several unusual and uncomfortable mishaps, I developed SEVERE performance stress as soon as I began to play in public.
    Prior to this experience, I had taken Beta Blockers for an unrelated medical problem, and while taking them, realized that singing, which had never been a problem in front of an audience, became totally effortless while taking the medication.
    After consulting a physician, I did a trial of a BB and found that it worked to keep extreme stress at bay.
    I rarely use them because I always have a concern about dosage. I think for a young, aspiring soloist, it is much better to alter one’s personal philosophy to create a more comfortable approach to playing. As an absolute last resort, and with input of a physician, I think having the information about YOUR response to having this as part of your defense against playing stress plan can be useful.

    Sid Humphreys on #188888

    I first discovered the use of BB from a musicians trade magazine. I can sing, dance and speak in front of a crowd but put me at the harp and I shake uncontrollably! BBs took care of that problem. Years later, I read a book titled “Power Performance”, written by a harpist, and that helped a lot. I now only ever need to take 1/2 a BB to perform in stressful situations. I would recomend this drug if you do severly have trouble performing. Sometimes one just may need to become comfortable in certain playing situations only to realize that the drug is no longer needed.

    carl-swanson on #188894

    In 2001 I wrote an article on Beta Blockers that was published in the Harp Column. The article is called A PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS. If you go to my company web site,, you can read the whole article. Just click on the ARTICLES TAB on the home page.

    DianaRowan on #188919

    Yes, I have absolutely used them as I had crazy performance anxiety, really out there stuff. I’ve worked with the anxiety and it is definitely under control now, but for extremely high pressure situations I still take them as insurance 😉 For a number of reasons I only recommend them for hard-core cases of performance anxiety, and only if your doctor agrees, of course. I use a lot of sports psychology in my teaching and performing and in general find sports psychologists are really against BBs but you know, they aren’t playing a harp and laying their soul bare, so there you go!

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.