Mental Health Monday The Psychology of Performance in Arts and Athletics

Presented by UAB Arts in Medicine
In the past few years, more media attention has focused on the impact of mental health for elite athletes and popular performing artists. Singers Adele and Rhianna and athletes Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are just a few who have opened up about their experiences. Athletes and performing artists can suffer from extreme stress and anxiety related to a fear of making mistakes, causing disappointment, and other issues affecting their ability to perform under pressure. In this VMHM, we will speak with UAB Faculty, Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk, and Dr. John Gampher. They will provide insight into what happens physically and mentally surrounding a high-stakes performance and how performers of all types can address performance anxiety.
Speakers: Dr. John Gampher & Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk

April 18 at 12pm CT via ZOOM

ZOOM link will be sent out via email prior to the event.

Please contact Lauren Edwards with any questions (

Hailed by the Journal of Singing for the “commendable clarity in her singing as well as rich expressiveness,” soprano Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk’s solo CD of the world premieres of Lori Laitman’s The Secret Exit and Diana Rosenblum’s “Winter Rain” was released by Naxos in 2020. Recorded with frequent partner Denise Gainey, Fanfare noted that “hearing Hurst-Wajszczuk and Gainey work as one on these songs just underlines the music’s power,” since they “feel each and every nuance.” Sakira Ventura celebrates “the perfect articulation of the soprano, who seems to sculpt each one of the syllables of text.” Following pre-pandemic American, Belgian, and Canadian premieres, the duo will bring The Secret Exit to Austria in 2022.
In several appearances with Opera Birmingham, she created the role of Mary Rose in Jody Landers’s new opera, Now Let Us Praise Famous Men. The soprano has also premiered several new works with the Birmingham Art Music Alliance (BAMA). She performed for composer Bill Mayer’s 70th birthday celebration concert in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in the role of Madeline in the composer’s The Eve of St. Agnes. Other recent engagements include solo appearances with the Alabama and Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestras.
In the realm of early music, she was featured in the title role of Dido & Aeneas with Bourbon Baroque, Louisville’s period instrument ensemble. She is slated to return in 2022 for Handel’s Neun Deutsche Arien. Other appearances include the title role in Cavalli’s Erismena with the Amherst Early Music Festival and the New Year’s Eve concert with the Boulder Bach Festival. A specialist in the lute songs of John Dowland, her solo CD of Dowland lute songs was released in 2008 by Centaur. She has performed and lectured throughout North America on the socio-political intrigue surrounding the songs. Her training included a fellowship at the Early Music Vancouver “Compleat Singer Programme.”
Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk’s research interest in managing performance anxiety has expanded to wellness for students of all majors. She is a Licensure Trainee through the Association of Body Mapping Educators and is currently the only Koru-certified meditation teacher in Alabama, a kind of meditation developed by Duke University for emerging adults. During the pandemic, she has presented over 40 mindfulness workshops for music programs in universities around the country, for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) regional and national conferences, the National Collegiate Honors Council, and the Mental Health Ambassadors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk’s recent national and international conference presentations include the National Collegiate Honors Council, the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, the National Association of Teachers of Singing national conference, the College Music Society national conference, and The Voice Foundation. In 2013-14, she was a Fulbright finalist, and was invited to teach at the Vienna Conservatory in Austria. Her workshops have also been featured at summer sessions in Szeged, Hungary. She is slated to present on the subject at Honors Education at Research Universities in Houston and at the International Conference of Voice Teachers in Vienna this summer.
Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk has served two terms as NATS Vice President for Workshops, on the board of Wisconsin NATS, as Alabama NATS Governor, as the Education Chair for Southeastern Regional NATS. She currently serves as the Webinar Chair for the Association of Body Mapping Educators. In 2007, she founded the first student NATS group in Alabama, and has served as their advisor ever since. An award-winning opera director, her productions have won first, second, and third place awards through the National Opera Association. In 2019, she was appointed the inaugural Associate Dean of the Honors College at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For more information, please visit
Dr. Gampher is a former child and adolescent therapist (having worked in-patient, out-patient, school-based, and for the Department of Children and Families).  His Ph.D. work transitioned from clinical to neuroscience (electrophysiology and psychophysics related to visual perception).  Dr. Gampher is a former National Science Foundation fellow and his post-graduate focus has been undergraduate teaching but with a continued interest in the application of psychological principles to business, the legal system, and sport.  He has served as a consultant for the U.S. Army and sports teams.  Dr. Gampher has been primary faculty in the UAB Department of Psychology for the past 17 years.

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