Musicians are ‘three times more likely to suffer from depression’

Musicians are ‘three times more likely to suffer from depression’


norman lebrecht

October 16, 2017

Help Musicians UK has set up a task force to address high levels of mental illness in the music professions.

A new study identifies four contributory factors:

– Money worries – A career in music is often precarious and unpredictable. Many musicians have several different jobs as part of a portfolio career, and as a result get little time to take a break. It can be hard for musicians to admit to insecurities because of needing to compete with others and wanting to appear on top of things.  Musicians can also find it hard to access affordable professional help for mental health issues.

Poor working conditions – Music makers can be reflective and highly self-critical, and exist in a working and personal environment of constant critical feedback. As many musicians are self-employed, their work can result in feelings of isolation when it comes to dealing with mental health problems.

Relationship challenges – Family, friends and partners play an important role in supporting musicians, but these relationships can come under huge pressure and strain.

Sexual abuse/bullying/discrimination – Musicians’ working environment can be anti-social and unsympathetic, with some people experiencing sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and coercion.

More here.



  • Mark Mortimer says:

    For the above reasons- Norman- probably very true. Music is a beautiful thing but the business of making it ain’t. This is the practical side of things. On the other side of the coin- numerous studies have indicated a strong link between Bipolar depression in highly creative people. Thats why so many gifted musicians suffer from depression. But its really the topic of another forum.

  • Respect says:

    The 563 applicants for the Malko contest is probably a major reason; we are producing three generations of overeducated and underemployed musicians. I’ve had three great conducting posts and find myself unable to get any work for three years: 100s of applicants for each position I apply for.

    • Sceptic says:

      Define “overeducated”.

    • Sue says:

      Bravo. You’ve belled the cat. Serious career advice wanted much earlier for many of these musicians. Why not combine music-making with another profession, such as the law, finance, medicine, science? I know many who’ve done this. Too late for those already on the treadmill, but there is a next generation. And teaching resilience is of huge benefit too!!

    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      When are you making your Berlin Phil debut?

      • respect says:

        I don’t need to apologize to anyone ou, you nasty fraud, at least i have conducted major orchestras. What’s the point of your nasty non sequiter, except to continue your joy in hurting others?

        • Sue says:

          Sir, the person doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. Closing the ears is one way that the protected species enjoys its ‘protection’. That’s why people are so busy shutting down alternative views in western culture – it’s affront to their sense of security and protection.

          Keep up your bright sword or the dew will rust it!!

        • Una says:

          And with respect and not wanting to sound patronising, why then do you hide behind the name of a British political party??? Use your name as I do.and many more!

          • Una says:

            That was aimed at Mr Respect, the anonymous conductor who is sounding like ‘the nasty party!’

        • Father Ted says:

          Are you a stick waver of note. Having gone baroque, I manage a wave or two from my Ruckers cembalo, amazingly it works fine for the Brandenburg concertos and most other stuff up to Haydn’s Creation.

    • Maria says:

      No such thing as being over-educated, and certainly not when it comes to knowledge about anger management and displaying good manners. As a professional musician, I always made sure that I always had an extra string to my bow – and that was long before work became scarce. One can never be over-educated – only not educated enough.

      • David R Osborne says:

        No Maria. You cannot make a ‘Motherhood case’ for education until we have a full and open discussion about what that education should actually look like. What has the education system as it currently stands given us?

        It is true that the standard of instrumentalists especially orchestral musicians has never been higher than it is now and that is due in no small part to highly advanced teaching methods. There is a lot of science that can be applied to the teaching of instruments.

        Singers? I’m not so sure, the overall standard is probably higher than it has been, but no real stars of the calibre of a Callas, Flagstad, Melchior, Björling or Chaliapin to name just a few… we have none of those.

        Conductors? Forget it. The current crop is as drab a bunch of company-line towing men and women as you could ever imagine, thank ‘education’ for that. Could we ever do with a Beecham right now! ( Never had a conducting lesson in his life).

        But far more important are composers. On the creative side, academicism has had a catastrophic effect, and where academic control is at it’s strongest, for example in Germany, it has totally devastated classical music as a living, relevant art-form capable of actually growing it’s audience with new work, as other art-forms do. In this case education in its current form is the problem, not the solution.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But that is terrible – your frustration is entirely understandable. Everybody deserves periods of depression. But as the best possible solution, classical music is there to help. If in need of profound intrerior suffering, listening to Mahler IX is wholeheartely recommended, much more effective than any wife or mother in law. If this does not help, take Xenakis, or Pintscher, or any piece by Tomas Ades, or one of the many concerti grossi by Joachim Alzheimer.

        • John Borstlap says:

          PS: Somehow this comment ended up somewhere else than its origins, it was a reaction to a comment which now seems to have disappeared.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Depression effects people in all professions and in all walks of life. But having worked with both professional and amateur musicians, I can testify that the latter are far better off mentally. They may not play as well as the pros, but their music making is no less enjoyable and their outlook on life so much more refreshing. Being a pro, spending 8+ hours a day practicing, dealing with the pressure of auditions, putting up with the egos of other musicians…no thanks! But…as a consumer of classical music I am forever grateful to those pros who did make a living and giving us so many wonderful concerts and recordings.

    • Maria says:

      It’s not about the number of hours one practices as a pro but the quality of one’s practice and being efficient with one’s practice. After all most musicians gave a family life and kids to consider. But it is lovely to hear your grateful heart for those of us who have given both to the profession and been rewarded by the profession. I have always felt it has been such a wonderful thing to have been paid for what I have loved doing – making music for others. And now I can only wish the younger generation all the best for they also have to.put up with the back-seat ‘musicians’ and self-made experts who seem to think they know everything about everything there had to be known in music, and yet try and pull down those who have the courage and the resilience to do the job and take a risk in life. Nothing last for ever.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    Thank you for the freebie promotion 😀

    If this could give Respect a gleam of hope, and encourage him not to give up, then I would be more than happy to help.

    Ironically, if people here are confronted with the fact that Lang Lang, Dudamel and Bocelli have the most fans and likes, they will also be scornful of such popularity and immediately let Celi call in: “Karajan is popular, so is Coca-Cola.”

    In fact, I would really love to hear a recording of Mr. Respect with one of his major orchestras. It won’t surprise me too much if it would be on par with, or even better than some of the more hotter deals nowadays.
    Well, the prerequisite is that he has some recordings to share with us.

    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      First book your own headstone before worrying of others’.
      Or do you already have one?

      • Respect says:

        Wow, you’re really into trolling everyone. Why don’t you reveal your background?

        • David R Osborne says:

          Pretty sure she’s one of John Borstlap’s many personalities Respect…

        • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

          Have you found your recordings with your major orchestras? We can’t wait to hear.

        • John Borstlap says:

          To David R Osborne: I would never let a Kramhammerbauer into the estate. These things have been prohibited by the constable.

        • David R Osborne says:

          No, I know. I was just wondering where you were, that’s all…

        • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

          John, thanks to watch dogs like you, classical music has become uncool and inaccessible for sane people. Don’t do evil in the name of good.

        • John Borstlap says:

          To the kramhammerthing:

          Thanks to people like me, there are pockets of resistance amidst the incompetence, insanity, populist abberations and pure, sheer, uninhibited, indulgent nonsense by people who would do better to listen to classical music in silence and also afterwards keep their mouth shut.

          Classical music has never been intened as ‘cool’, since this abject word – slang for juvenile nonsense endorsed by the parading nitwits in the dark streets of cultural prostitution – never played a role in the genre. Classical music is meant to offer an alternative for the flimsy noises of modern life under the protecting vaults of the concert hall, for listeners who want to preserve something of their sanity by exposing themselves to some interior experience which brings them back to their true self.

        • John Borstlap says:

          This is what we are up to here all the time.


      • Nun danket alle Gott says:

        I think what Ted means is that your ridiculous pseudonym is way too long to fit on a headstone. Do you know a Crotchet from a Quaver perchance.

        • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

          Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it, shortsighted dorfman. We will all have headstones with solar-powered OLED retina displays which are capable of showing running text.

        • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

          If you have space problem with your Grabstein, just order the same one as this man’s:

          Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Buhl-Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg

  • Philippa Ballard says:

    ==You cannot possibly have a daft name like that. Think of your headstone man, wise up.

    Haha, it looks like a bad anagram !