The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music controversy: Are beta-blockers the steroids of professional musicians?

August 19, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

I get terrible stage fright when I play the piano or speak in public. It’s often downright debilitating.

Oh boy, do I suffer.

And so does the music or the words, to say nothing of me.

And I am convinced it’s not all mental.

There is, I am sure, a physical element to it. It’s how I am wired, in my brain and nervous system.

Anyway, I recently came across this story. It asks a good question:

Are beta-blockers, or other drugs I suppose, the steroids of performing artists and musicians?

And what are the upsides and downsides of using them?

I really want to know and to hear from you readers.

I know professional musicians in the Madison Symphony Orchestra and other groups at the UW School of Music who use them, and swear by the drugs.

I also know professional musicians who say they would never resort to drugs for performing, that you just have to fight your way through it — or choose a different career, I suppose.

So, please read this story and let me know what you think.

Do you know of musicians who use beta-blockers?

Do you?

You can remain anonymous, of course.

Have you had good experiences?

Bad experiences?

Do you recommend or discourage using them?

Do you have other ways of successfully coping with stage fright?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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