Why playing live music is like jumping from a plane

Lots of singers have a ritual before heading on stage.

As a DJ, I’ve seen the group huddles, the performers who go quiet and the ones who get nervous – but I’ve never appreciated the sheer toll live performance can take on the body.

As part of Radio 4’s new Art of Now series, Playing Well, I’ve been talking to musicians about mental health – and when we were given the chance to measure the stress involved in playing a gig, we got some surprising results.

By carefully measuring the responses of singer Marcus Lesycsyznski-Hall, scientists from the University of Westminster found stress levels which were comparable to a sky dive.

Mark Wetherell, professor of Psychobiology of Northumbria University, designed the experiment and has carried out extensive studies into stress.

He told me: “If you’re anticipating any kind of challenging or stressful event your body mounts a response to help you deal with it.

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