Choosing to devote your professional life to music can come with many highs and lows. Of course, playing instruments and creating songs can be incredibly rewarding and it is a passion for many people. But being able to support that existence can lead to stress and emotional turmoil. And it’s well documented that those who succeed in that industry often struggle with substance abuse and depression. Because of facts like that, more and more support groups are emerging to help musicians push through their pain.
Similar to being an actor, for example, succeeded as a musician requires some very thick skin. There are often high pressure auditions, cut contracts and difficulties with management that can lead to tremendous financial stress. This, as it were, happens to be one of the major reasons that those in the industry deal with issues like depression, addiction and anxiety.
And though you wouldn’t necessarily think there were mental illness struggles among classical musicians, the stats are surprising there as well. In fact, over in New York City a special support group called the Me2 Orchestra has emerged. Here, fellow violinists, cellists and conductors gather to offer emotional reassurance and build group therapy conversations.
The founder of that particular organization is a noted east coast maestro by the name of Ronald Braunstein. Though he is a Julliard graduate and the winner of the prestigious Karajan International Conducting Award, Braunstein openly admits that his high pressure life has led to some dark struggles.
“The unbelievable mania I experienced probably helped me win the Karajan,” he explained in a recent article. “I learned repertoire fast. I studied through the night and wouldn’t sleep. I didn’t eat because if I did, it would take away my edge.”
Talking about his issues with his fellow musicians (and offering support of his own) has helped bring Braunstein away from his dark place. Now the Me2 Orchestra is helping dozens more, building support for performance anxiety, alcoholism and bipolar disorder.
And believe us, this happens in other music circles all of the time. Whether it’s a rock band member abusing drugs, a vocalist with issues singing in public or even a hip hop artist confessing pain through his lyrics, life as a performer can have many challenges.
We certainly want to make ourselves available for anyone who is struggling with these problems. If you or someone you are close to is having a hard time making their musical dreams come true, always remember that we are here to help.