MHS grad is expert in performance psychology


Noa Kageyama specializes in coaching people through their performance anxiety, where they tense up and start internally panicking when they’re performing in front of an audience or if the stakes are high. As a former resident of Marysville, he’s had his fair share of anxiety moments in his young musical career when he played the violin.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Jacob Runnels)
You may be great at what you do, but what happens when the stakes are high and everyone is watching you?
Does your mind multitask and try to analyze everything around you? Do you keep track of every time you’ve slipped up and think about the future? Do you tense up and start to choke?
Do you have performance anxiety? Noa Kageyama could help.
Whenever Kageyama has been on camera, he would forget how to sit and relax “like a normal person.” He wouldn’t know where to put his hands, and would tense up.
“We forget how to walk, sit or smile like normal people because we’re suddenly consciously monitoring something we do automatically,” Kageyama said. “As soon as you start consciously monitoring the mechanics of the skill, our odds of tensing goes out the window, and you start choking.”
Kageyama, a former Marysville resident, specializes in performance psychology. As a member of the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York City, New York, and the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, he helps people overcome their performance anxiety. Currently, he helps people ranging from entrepreneurs with their pitch speeches to opthamologists performing eye surgery.
He didn’t originally start his career in psychology, however. He’s devoted much of his 42 years to playing the violin.
Kageyama’s musical career started early, as he took lessons at Capital University when he was as young as three years old.
He played the violin throughout all stages of school, and performed in concerts in Colorado and Japan. He even missed his Marysville High School graduation because he was playing in a concert.
Through all of his performances, up until college, he never had an answer for why he always felt like he didn’t do so well during those performances, or why he would “choke” on stage.
“I didn’t know what to do about it except for practice more,” Kageyama said. “That’s how I thought things were.”
He said other people would tell him how well he did, but his abilities under the spotlight never sounded right to him. He knew what quality he could perform at, and saw he wasn’t living up to his standards.
“When you know what you can do, and you can’t do it when it matters, that’s the frustrating part,” he said.
After taking a sport psychology class at Juilliard, he realized what was his problem: he never practiced for when he had stage fright.
“For me and what I learned, practice doesn’t make perfect, as putting more hours doesn’t lead to peak performance under stress,” Kageyama said. “(What works) is practicing effectively, but also practicing specifically for demands under pressure, will lead to consistent peak performances.”
Kageyama earned his doctorate degree in psychology, starting his journey to help others control their performance anxiety.
He learned how “anything with a performance component” could use this assistance, and not just those playing music.
He said it’s a large benefit to not only practice one’s skill, but to also practice what it’s like to perform under pressure.
“It’s learning how to do that when every instinct in your body is telling you to do something else,” Kageyama said.
However, he said most people won’t practice under pressure, and instead think they can prepare for those events simply by practicing their skills.
He said he would have done more practice with performances in his childhood if he knew what he knows now, as it would have helped to learn how to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

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