Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions we make in our lifetime. Career choice is more than just working to earn a living but also an important window into how we feel about ourselves. In this groundbreaking and provocative book, musician and psychologist Julie Jaffee Nagel explores how musicians’ work beyond the COVID-19 pandemic casts a light upon the necessity of rethinking, rebuilding, and possibly redesigning our concept of careers and music education in the arts.
The book takes an interdisciplinary approach to a wide range of pressing topics such as career disillusionment, mental health in relation to lack of professional and personal security, the unavailability of jobs that reflect the depth of the musician’s formal training and talent, and the healing role and value of musicians in a post-pandemic world. The pandemic was an unwelcome and sudden shock in the lives and careers of countless musicians, with many experiencing crises. Importantly, Nagel emphasizes that this trauma also has the potential to energize and expand horizons for rewarding, creative work. Musicians’ gifts include resilience and discipline, and their art has important social value. Music has the power to be an aural antidote to some of society’s ills—during trying times, it is vitally important to express and share the musician’s artistic imagination and creativity in teaching studios, on stage, and through off stage interactions with others.
Julie Jaffee Nagel brings her unique, interdisciplinary background and education in mental health and music to understanding the personality of the musician, performance anxiety, the psychological impact of COVID-19 on music careers, and the value of music in mental life and in promoting social justice. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School, The University of Michigan, and The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and author of Melodies of the Mind, Managing Stage Fright, A Conversation Between Freud and Mozart, and Career Choices In Music Beyond the Pandemic. Equally at home on stage, in the consulting room, in presentations to a variety of audiences, and as a mentor, her expertise and warmth is recognized as exceptional. She is in private practice in Dexter, Michigan. Visit www.julienagel.net.
Chapter 1 Work
Chapter 2 Musicians and Money in the Wake of the Pandemic
Some Financial Facts: A Wake Up Call
What Do Musicians Contribute?
The Musician as “Product”
Creative Responses to the Pandemic
Why Should You Care About Music?
Your Money or Your Life
Chapter 3 Musical Development and Psychological Development
Erik Erikson: Development Over a Lifetime
“Ratios”: Life as a Balancing Act
Erikson’s Eight Stages for the Musician
Early Stages (ages 1-4)
Middle Stages (ages 5-7)
Late Stage: Stage 8 (ages 65+)
Chapter 4 The Meaning of Money and “Psychic Income”
Early Issues about Giving and Receiving
Attention and Money: Symbolic Nourishment
What Do Money and Stage Fright Share in Common?
How Much are You Worth?
Patrons and Angels
Nourishing Starving Artists
Chapter 5 Four Types of Personality Who Seek Music Careers
The Identity Status Interview
The Four Categories of the ISI
What Does ISI Data Explain?
Ken: Integrating Past and Present
Conclusion: Research and Clinical Work
Chapter 6 Pursuit of Perfection
The Disillusionment of Omnipotence
Growing Pains and Emotional Growth
Pursuit of Perfection: All the Right Notes
Resolution of Disillusionment: Grieving, Mourning, and Moving Forward
Chapter 7 The Golden Allure of Celebrity: Reflections on Boundary Crossings in Psychoanalysis and Music
Planning for the Big Meeting
The #MeToo Movement and Music Education
A “Perfect Storm”: Private Music Lessons
A Rescue through “Love”
A Higher Cost for Education
The Bad Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
Chapter 8 Rethinking Music Education
Asked and (as Yet) Unanswered Questions
Teaching Talented Musicians: The University and Conservatory
Nurturing Healthy Musicians
How to Destroy Creativity in Music Students: A Paraphrase of Otto Kernberg
Educating Healthy People Who Are Musicians
A Healthy Music Profession
Chapter 9 Music and Mind Outside the Box
The Value of Music: Past and Future
The Impact of Music: Historical Precedents
Musicians and Mental Health Professionals as Non-Traditional First Responders
Music and Therapy in and beyond the Consulting Room
Beyond the Teaching Studio and Concert Hall
Has Anything Good Resulted from the Pandemic?
A Conclusion and a Beginning
About the Author
This is a definitive study that is a must-read for musicians young and old as well as general readers interested in the music profession. Dr. Nagel’s carefully researched work combines the perceptions of a musician and psychologist dealing with post-pandemic challenges involving musicians’ contributions to our society.
I do not wish to rob glory from a student's hopefulness, but rather, I want them to know that the very hard work will somehow pay off. Each individual will have their own brave story to tell. This much-needed book by Julie Jaffee Nagel provides important and continual support.
As a practicing musician and psychoanalyst, Julie Nagel is well-suited and uniquely qualified to help us understand and process the traumatic effects of the global pandemic on career choices faced by musicians. This timely reflection, with its optimistic outlook, weaves a compelling narrative using real-life examples, many of them her own, along with psychological concepts to provide a framework upon which to build or rebuild a successful music career. It should be required reading for everyone who is contemplating or is currently engaged in the music profession.
This book offers deep psychological insights and a wealth of information on everything from early childhood experience, stage fright, concert fees, and so much more. It’s a veritable handbook of advice guiding musicians at every level into the new and ever-changing world of music.
Julie Nagel knows the field as a trained musical performer and a practicing clinician who is an international authority on work inhibition and performance block. There is none better!
Julie Nagel addresses the issues that face every musician in their careers. She explores them from personal and research-oriented perspectives while challenging students to examine their reasons for pursuing a career in music. With her background in music and psychology, there is no one more qualified than Nagel to examine these issues.
For years, music students (and their parents) have questioned the financial viability of pursuing music as a career. The pandemic only added to concerns. Nagel discusses these issues from psychological development and emotional health to practical issues of making money as a musician in today’s world. This is a must-read for every music student and professors who work with them.
This is an essential guide for musicians and music teachers, really for every teacher in every discipline. She helps with the difficult, conflicting career choices we must make throughout our lifetimes, preparing all students and teachers for the dangerous temptations that arise.
A must read for any musician engaged in or considering a career in music. Nagel provides valuable insight into essential but rarely discussed subjects that impact the lives of every professional musician.
This book is especially appropriate and perfectly timed given the tremendous challenges artists have been handling for the past few years. Nagel promotes a thoughtful and holistic approach to helping the reader make wise and appropriate decisions for the future. Her book will encourage constructive personal introspection.
Nagel’s psychological insights make this book a must read. Her chapters on the “Pursuit of Perfection” and “The Golden Allure of Celebrity” should be read by anyone contemplating a rabbinic career.
This is a unique and important book . Nagel deftly uses psychology to identify the basis of our career choices and their impact on identity and self-esteem. With vivid case examples, she highlights the musician’s emotional struggle for success. Above all the book reminds us that music and musicians inspire and sustain us in times of misery, pandemic or otherwise.
Julie Jaffee Nagel, uniquely qualified to combine psychoanalysis and music, offers a design for a meaningful life as a musician. Mining the wealth of her personal and professional experience, she addresses both the economic demands and the many rewards of commitment to music.