The Fearless Performance Workshop, organized by Annalisa Ventola and held in her studio, Whitney & Ventola Music Studios, gives local musicians a casual meeting place to connect, perform and engage in supportive discussions surrounding performance anxiety and how to overcome it.
As a classical musician who suffers from performance anxiety, Ventola opens her studio at 4601 N. High St. once a month to musicians for the free workshop on one condition: Everybody who attends must perform.
“I suffered from performance anxiety and stage fright,” Ventola said. “Doing solo piano and singing, I would just fall apart.”
She said the workshop originally began as a book club during which the group would read books about performance anxiety, perform for each other and share their thoughts on what tips worked to soothe their anxiety.
“I started reading books — I started with ‘The Inner Game of Music.’ I read some things online and I started looking at how to deal with performance anxiety,” Ventola said. “After reading my first book I started to nail what was wrong with me and I started to turn things around so quickly that I wanted to help my students too, and I have a lot of adult students.”
Ventola said the book club became stagnant after some time, but the group continued to get together and perform for each other at the studio.
“Most of the time when we perform in front of somebody it’s a high-stakes thing,” Ventola said. “Learning to perform, it’s like exercising a muscle and I felt like what we needed were low-stakes opportunities. That’s what the Fearless Performance Workshop is. There are no spectators, so everyone is kind of in the same boat with you.”
Linda Peltomaa, a regular attendee of Fearless Performance, said she began coming to the workshop six years ago to overcome her performance anxiety.
“Before I ever went to the workshop, Annalisa had a recital and I knew the piece very well before I went to play, but going to the place I couldn’t even remember the first note,” Peltomaa said. “I had such anxiety.”
Since her first workshop, Peltomaa said her stage fright has significantly decreased, and the camaraderie among peers is what makes the workshop special.
“Everybody was very supportive, especially at the beginning,” she said.
Whitney & Ventola Music Studios will be holding its next Fearless Performance Workshop on Nov. 7 from 7-9 p.m., free of cost at 4601 N. High St.