Cornett to offer anxiety, performance stress tips during guest residency

· 4 min read

Cornett to offer anxiety, performance stress tips during guest residency

Vanessa Cornett
Vanessa Cornett, professor of piano and piano pedagogy at the University of St. Thomas

Guest artist Vanessa Cornett will be in residence in the Glenn Korff School of Music Oct. 23-25 and will offer a series of presentations for faculty, advisers/mentors and the greater University of Nebraska–Lincoln community on managing academic anxiety and improving well-being.

Cornett is professor of piano and piano pedagogy at the University of St. Thomas and the author of the book, “The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance.” She has published widely on topics related to performance anxiety management, contemplative practices and the mental well-being of musicians.

“Stress and performance anxiety are pervasive in the arts, but these are important and relevant topics well beyond the arts,” said Brenda Wristen, professor of piano and piano pedagogy in the Glenn Korff School of Music. “All of us find ourselves in stressful performance situations where we may struggle to cope. Learning strategies to effectively address and cope with performance anxiety can not only help us to be more successful but can also make our experiences of these events more pleasurable.”

Cornett’s public presentation, “Managing Academic Anxiety and Performance Stress,” will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in Westbrook Music Building, room 119. This presentation is free and open to the public.

Performance anxiety affects millions of people around the world, every day. Students most often experience this type of extreme nervousness when taking tests and exams, giving public speeches or class presentations, offering artistic performances in public, or preparing high-stakes assignments and papers. Financial/job worries, family or relationship stress, and global/cultural problems can create a larger pattern of chronic apprehension. Cornett will help attendees practice various forms of mindful awareness, stress reduction and creative imagery to understand and cope with diverse mid-semester stressors.

Cornett will also present “A Presentation About Nothing” for Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts faculty at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 25 in Westbrook Music Building, room 114.

Many contemplative traditions focus on the importance of “nothing,” the empty spaces in between perceived “somethings.” Musicians understand the power of rests as having weight and presence. Imagination is often sparked in moments of stillness. Yet, our attention is frequently hijacked, and we are conditioned to believe that we are only valuable when we are productive. This session is designed to challenge cultural assumptions, inspire healthy resistance and help improve our creativity and well-being.

Finally, Cornett will present “Trauma-Sensitive Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Management” for academic advisors and mentors, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Nebraska Union Platte River Room South. This session is open to anyone in the university community who serve as advisors and mentors to students.

In the wake of global pandemic trauma, many of our students are overwhelmed, anxious and navigating university life without adequate coping skills. Advisors and mentors can make a meaningful difference in how their students navigate difficult situations or moments of high stress. In this interactive workshop, advisors and mentors will practice short stress reduction strategies developed using accessible cognitive-behavior techniques and trauma-sensitive mindfulness practices. These activities can help students learn to regulate their emotions and strengthen their skills of resilience in challenging times.

Wristen said those who attend Cornett’s presentations will find them helpful.

“Dr. Cornett is a certified meditation instructor with a special interest in mindfulness and performance anxiety management for musicians and is the author of a groundbreaking book on mental strategies for peak performance for musicians. She is in high demand as a speaker on topics of contemplative practices, sport psychology, peak performance, and the mental health of musicians, having given presentations in 23 of the United States and in 18 countries across six continents,” she said. “I have personally attended many of Dr. Cornett’s lectures and presentations. She is a gifted public speaker with a delightful sense of humor, and I think our students, faculty, and staff will find what she has to say inspiring and transformative.”

Cornett’s residency is being funded through a Faculty Senate Convocations grant with additional support from the Glenn Korff School of Music and Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

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