So how many is too many? Some additional evidence

So how many is too many? Some additional evidence


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2010

An orchestral manager has directed me to an article on alcohol in the performing arts, published a year ago by the UK Medical Council on Alcohol. It contains some shocking statistics, among them an international survey showing that 70 percent of orchestral musicians suffer from levels of anxiety that lead to medication, alcohol and drug use.

I don’t remember the report being discussed much among musicians when it was published. As usual in the classical music world, it was swept under the carpet.

Meanwhile, private respondents to my previous post cite the case of a London viola player seen urinating on the concert hall steps in full concert dress as the audience was leaving, and report that two British orchestras have now banned alcohol use on their premises.
Here’s the link to the M-C-A report:
photo credit:


  • Marie Lamb says:

    Thanks very much for this and for the link to the M-C-A report. As they make clear, the field of performing arts medicine has tended to concentrate on the physical hazards of playing, singing, acting and dance. However, we need to broaden that to include problems related to the mental and emotional stress of a performer’s life, since they can make many people more susceptible to alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders and the like. The article mentions that “musicians are reluctant to discuss this,” but until it is discussed more openly, it won’t get better. We can accept if someone’s coping with a sprained ankle, carpal tunnel syndrome or vocal nodes, but I hope we’ll get smart and help performers cope with the emotional bumps and bruises of a performer’s life, too. I think of the conductor I mentioned yesterday, who did great work in Syracuse and other places, but who left this world much too soon, partly due to such woes. If we open the curtains and let some sunlight be a disinfectant, maybe others will have a happier fate.

  • Sensitive topic, Norman. It’s swept under the rug because it’s like the elephant in the room. But, I agree with Marie. If not addressed, how can the inherent psychological challenges of performance stress be eased and better understood?

  • farid ud din says:

    first of all i want to tell u me is muslim man live in Pakistan u may know alkohal is prohibited in our relgion that is islam totly in our whle life so if u accept the islam u must be protect autometcily and more other bed habits