Addiction to Performing

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy”

Eminem opens Lose Yourself with the image of someone battling ‘Fight or Flight’. I think this is a battle that we all face. Speeches, performances, interviews or sports are all events where the mind and body undergoes the flooding of hormones.

As a concert pianist performing four concerts a week over a six month season, I was exposed to this regularly. Now that I teach piano and build Oclef, performing is something I only create for my kids. I rarely have a chance to do it for myself.

This past weekend I gave a small performance. Sitting in the green room before going out, ‘fight or flight’ returned right on cue.


It’s ten minutes before showtime. My brain is flooding with a mind-bending cocktail of hormones: oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin and adrenaline. All I can think about is how much I miss this feeling.

Is it love or is it addiction?

I can’t deal with that thought before going out. I put it in my pool of thoughts to reflect on afterwards. I walk out on stage and breathe in the energy of the audience. It hits me like a summer sun.

It was definitely an addiction to performing that pushed me to take on my touring career.

I love everything about it. If I align my clouded mind correctly then one minute feels like 30 and 30 feels like one. People are sitting away from me, but I can still feel their presence. I can hear them thinking and feeling or not listening at all. Each emotion and idea pours through my mind, into my hands, down into the piano and flies out at the speed of sound directly into the minds of the audience. The hall echoes of music being resurrected. It eventually brings people to their feet to cheer – or at least I hope.

All through the performance I can’t help but smile. This was the state of mind that drove my life for many years. Music is incredible.

Can addiction be a good thing?

Leading up to a touring season I would practice for eight hours a day in a room with no windows. I did this for years. Why would any sane person do that? Someone with an addiction to performing would do that – happily.


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