As an undergraduate student at another college,
Katie Kohlenburg had an experience that changed her life.
During an audition for a music program, Kohlenburg
was told by the judges that she should pursue other academic disciplines
because music wasn’t best suited for her.
She was crushed, but she took their advice and enrolled in a different program.
The rejection did more than send Kohlenburg into a
different major. It also gave her a sense of uneasiness any time she played
music, and that feeling of anxiety only grew.
“I was always a little nervous in high school,” she
said. “But it got worse after I
auditioned for college. I didn’t know what I was experiencing. I thought
something was wrong with me.”
Now a graduate student at IUP, Kohlenburg is working
on a master’s degree in music performance. To enhance her studies, she is
spending her summer learning about performance anxiety as part of the annual
Research Experiences for Summer Scholars program. Kohlenburg will use her
research to help her write her master’s thesis.
A native of Clarion, Pennsylvania, Kohlenburg is a graduate
of Keystone High School.
Now in its fifth year, the RESS program allows IUP
students the opportunity to do research in a field of their choosing under the
guidance of a faculty member. This summer, there are 30 students participating
in the program. The summer’s events are capped with a keynote speaker and a poster
session in August.
Although performance anxiety is something
Kohlenburg is familiar with because of her own experiences, she said her
research so far has shown that many people might have it, but they don’t always
know exactly what it is.
“Not a lot of people understand what [performance
anxiety] is,” Kohlenburg said. “There’s more material out there about sports
psychology and test anxiety, but not much about this.”
According to her research, performance anxiety can
manifest itself in many ways, ranging from physical to mental to emotional. But
what she hopes to find is a pathway to easing the anxiety that can disrupt