Alyssa Lahoda '20 Turns First-Year Project into Personal Passion

Alyssa Lahoda poses with her violin on the quad at Lebanon Valley College

Research shows that upwards of 60 percent of college musicians experience music performance anxiety, yet very few colleges address the condition within their curriculum. 

One Lebanon Valley College sophomore is striving to bring this little-discussed problem into the light. Alyssa Lahoda '20, a music and music business double major, is currently working with faculty and staff to start a student club that addresses the topic of Music Performance Anxiety (MPA). 

Lahoda began this journey in her First-Year Experience class with Dr. Robert Machado, assistant professor of English, who customized her learning experience in The Making+Remaking of Everyday Life course. The pair brainstormed experiential, writing, and film projects, which culminated in a research paper on MPA and what can be done to incorporate information into school music curriculum as early as sixth grade.

This topic is close to Lahoda’s heart as she suffers from MPA herself. Despite having played violin since third grade, Lahoda experiences flooding thoughts, anxiety, and shaking hands whenever she performs in front of others. 

“The longer I play, the more I start to think about what is happening,” Lahoda said. “The more worried I get, the more my hands shake. It feels like a loss of control.”

Dr. Machado was supportive of Lahoda’s research topic and helped her form the idea of starting a club so that other students would be able to talk about their experiences with MPA.

“Not enough was being done, so Alyssa decided to found a student club to bring awareness to this challenge and ideally help students overcome this challenge,” Machado said.

Despite her experiences with MPA, Lahoda aspires to one day perform in a professional orchestra.

“The thing that really keeps me going with music is the moments when the feelings are so indescribable,” Lahoda said. “You lose your concept of time; you lose your concept of everything. You’re in your own little world and you’re not thinking about what you’re doing, you’re just in the moment, in the music, full-on expressing yourself. It’s the most amazing feeling.”

Lahoda worked with Dr. Renee Norris, chair and professor of music, to kick off the semester with a showing of the 2016 documentary “Composed.” She also hopes that this movement will catch on at other schools.

“It was really cool for me to think that I could actually be the start of something,” Lahoda said.

The club will hold monthly workshops that are open to anyone. Please contact Lahoda at acl006@lvc.edu if you have questions or would like additional information.