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Do you need a shrink backstage?

August 20, 2018 by norman lebrecht

9 comments.


This year’s BBC Proms brochure contains the first advertisement I have seen for a psychotherapist who offers ’emergency backstage’ consultations, as well as Skype and more formal treatment.

It’s tough out there.


Comments (9)

  1. John Borstlap says:

    Good idea. I can imagine a stretcher backstage with a couple of psychotherapists ready to delve into the soloist’s / singer’s early youth after a particularly stressful performance, including a behaviorist checking the patient’s praticing habits when too many wrong notes were sprayed over the audience.

    As we know, Rachmaninoff’s wonderful 3rd piano concerto was the result of the expertise of his psychiatrist, and R gratefully supported the profession by writing as many pitfalls as possible in his score so that future therapists would have many postconcert opportunities.

    1. Been Here Before says:

      John, for once you did not get it right. The Third Concerto was dedicated to Joseph Hoffman, another great pianist of the Piano Golden Era. It was the Second Piano Concerto that was dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, a physician who used hypnotherapy and psychotherapy to help R. overcome clinical depression.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        Aha…. thank you for putting that right. Alas, the 2nd one does not offer so many therapeutic opportunities.

  2. Anthony Boatman says:

    Our orchestra doesn’t have a shrink backstage, but we do have 2 massage therapists, which help ease tension.

  3. Razz Matazz says:

    I’ve been to performances where the audience was in need of emergency psychotherapy …

    1. John Borstlap says:

      In certain musical circles that is part of the artistic context.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAdybsbSCOE

  4. Sue says:

    With a lot of regietheater it’s the audience which needs the shrinks.

  5. Anon says:

    Are Proms musicians paid enough to afford such a luxury?

    If this is something the orchestra is paying for, great. If some ambulance chasing psychotherapist is hanging a shingle backstage expecting orchestral musicians to foot the bill themselves that’s simply predatory. And it won’t be a very successful venture.

    Any orchestral player who’s reached the level where they’re playing at the Proms is not going to be emotionally disturbed enough to spend a large chunk of what they’re earning that night on a shrink. It’s professionally counterproductive. They’d spend on the shrink what they’d be earning to play.

    What crises is this psychotherapist envisioning exactly? Mega wealthy orchestra players running around backstage in need of therapy which will cost them what they’ll earn that night? It’s insulting that any psychotherapist would even suggest that.

    Maybe if she caters to conductors or soloists who actually can afford that kind of luxury it will fly. But that’s 2 people in every concert and I’m sure she was hoping for more volume than that.

    Unless the orchestra is paying for this, it’s total b.s. Someone should tell her that.

    1. Bruce says:

      Possibly if you’re a featured soloist, chances are that (a) you’re more highly strung than the average orchestral player, (b) you’re under a lot more pressure, highly-strung or not, and (c) you’re making more money than the average orchestral player (which can feed into the pressure: the “they’re paying me all this money and I’m about to go out there and fuck it up” kind of thinking)

      Seems to me, from a not-especially-disturbed orchestral musician’s point of view, that this service might be aimed at/ needed by soloists more than rank & file.

      Or maybe it’s just not that expensive. Shrinks are famously expensive, but the ad doesn’t say.


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