Sports psychology key for artists

Carmel Liertz.
Carmel Liertz.

Getting up on stage in front of an audience, preparing for a performance and intense rehearsing can be both stressful and nerve wracking.  

Many people can identify with those feelings of anxiety and that’s where Kiama Downs resident Carmel Liertz comes in.


An accomplished pianist, teacher, coach and researcher, Liertz is the author of ‘Performance Confidence’ and thanks to a Kiama Council cultural arts grant, she will be hosting an eight-week program, based on sport psychology’s proven performance principles, for aspiring creative artists of all types.

“I’ve opened it up to visual artists, actors, as well as musicians,” Liertz said.

“I’ve brought together six mind body strategies, which have been applied from sports psychology.

“The opportunity to present and perform is in the last session, in front of each other, but we are working on it all the way through.”

Liertz described the process of intense training and rehearsal.

“The first phase, which for sports people is training, artists call it practice, is exactly the same phase at the beginning of the process, then there is the lead-up and then the actual event,” she said.

“What is so emotionally stressful, anxiety making is usually in the lead-up phase.

“I can tell you from experience and mainly from students I taught, they would say ‘what if this happens’, it’s called the ‘what if’ stage in the lead-up.”

These conversations with students prompted Liertz to explore the idea of performance confidence.

“That’s when I went back to university when my students asked me to help them to perform, they would say ‘there is nothing in the curriculum’,” she said.

“There was no performance confidence training, which you think would be fairly obvious.”

Liertz said the program gives participants lifelong tools for managing anxiety.

“When you have this formula, and it’s a very flexible formula, in that I call it a package of strategies to become a confident performer,” she said.

“The latest research shows that confidence is as important as your ability, and it makes sense, if you can’t express your ability, it is not there.”

Details: ‘Ignite’, commencing June and July 10am – 12pm each Monday at The Pavilion Kiama. To book a spot contact Carmel on 0407 301 189 or email


Liertz grew up listening to her parents’ collection of piano recordings of Paderewski playing his ‘Minuet in G’, Gieseking’s Mozart, Julius Katchen’s Chopin, and Solomon’s Beethoven, and she tried to play whatever she heard.

By the age of 16, Liertz was playing regularly in concerts and as a restaurant pianist, theatre pianist and repetiteur.

As a teenager she had weekly Queensland Conservatorium piano lessons with renowned Australian pianist / composer / teacher / musicologist, Larry Sitsky.  

He became a mentor to the young Liertz and assisted her to gain a full-time scholarship to the conservatorium at age 16.

As a new graduate, she served as the Queensland Conservatorium’s official accompanist.

Accepting a teachers college lectureship took her to another end of Australia at 23 and provided a living as resident performer, instrumental teacher and lecturer.

However, this also re-ignited a long held desire to study further in Germany.

A year later, Liertz accepted a German scholarship for piano, pedagogy, and accompaniment studies at the Munich Musikhochschule, her dream had come true.

Living in Munich for 10 years meant experiencing the German culture and history, as well as regular close-up concerts with such luminaries as Maurizio Pollini, Emil Gilels, Annie Fischer, Martha Argerich, Murray Perahia, Friedrich Gulda, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and others.

During that time, Liertz taught two young talented students who went on to become recognised German music artists – Ludwig Eckmann (film composer and sound engineer) and Sylvia Dankesreiter (concert pianist).


After returning to Australia, Liertz embarked on research into music performance.

This was prompted by the questioning of her university students, as well as her own realisation that performance psychology principles needed to be incorporated into performance practice.

The combined outcome from tertiary students using the program was totally unexpected, and she presented the first training program for developing performance confidence in 2002.

The training book followed in 2009 with the accompanying ebook version in 2012-13.  

Institutions and performer teachers nationally and internationally began acquiring Performance Confidence: A Training Program for Musicians, and glowing reviews followed.

Since 2002, Liertz has been confidence-coaching all types of musicians for success in managing practice and performance, assisting with preparing for exams, gigs, concerts or competitions, and assisting teacher performers and concert artists to remain on top and maintain wellness in their demanding daily work.