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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Goodbye Butterflies: The 5-Day Stage Fright Solution is a nonfiction self-help book written by Dr. David Lee Fish. Fish is a professional musician as well as a professor and the PJ Leonard Chair of Music at Catawba College. He makes it quite clear at the outset of his book that he’s not promising to cure your stage fright forever -- there is no such cure. What he does offer is a proven technique for learning to manage and even embrace that fear. His interest in stage fright is both personal and professional. As a professor of music, he was concerned for his students whose success as musicians could be jeopardized by anxiety and pre-performance jitters. As a professional musician, he also experiences stage fright.
Fish’s time spent learning, when he was younger, under a Zen master has given him insights into the process of dealing with stage fright. Instead of trying to medicate or otherwise remove stage fright, he offers a five-day program that teaches how to detach oneself from the anxiety and focus on the performance. He also offers an online course that can be used in conjunction with this book as well as the workbook that’s included with it. He begins with a discussion of stage fright and what it is; and he shows how it affects performers of all types: from musicians and actors to public speakers, even to people making important telephone calls. Each chapter in this book offers the instructions for one of the five days and includes the practice of mindfulness and other exercises that help the reader process the material covered. There’s also a bonus content section providing more exercises and information for those who want to progress beyond the 5-Day program.
Dr. David Lee Fish’s Goodbye Butterflies offers practical solutions to a problem that plagues people from all walks of life. Nearly everyone has experienced stage fright in one form or another, whether it’s during an audition, before a school play, or even when trying to impress a prospective employer during a telephone interview. I loved seeing how he was able to apply Zen principles and philosophy in developing his stage fright strategy. I enjoyed working through the 5-Day chapters and doing the workbook exercises, and love that unforgettable image of the strawberry and the monk. Fish makes it easy to get into his book, beginning with outlining the course in his introductory chapter, and the Takeaways sections concluding each chapter help the reader make sure they’ve a firm grasp of everything covered. Goodbye Butterflies: The 5-Day Stage Fright Solution won’t cure your stage fright, but you won’t look at it the same way after working through this book. You might even learn to embrace that fear and harness its energy to boost your performance. Goodbye Butterflies: The 5-Day Stage Fright Solution is most highly recommended.