The Intersection of Classical Music Studies and My Mental Illness

OCH brings reflections on the intersection of musical education and mental illness from Neesa Suncheuri.


by Neesa Suncheuri

“You should apply for conservatories for college!  You’re very talented.”  Such was the advice of my high school orchestra teacher.  I studied privately with her husband, who was a violist in the New York Philharmonic.  I put in applications to audition for seven conservatories.

Although I felt confident in my playing, I never could practice as much as I wanted.  I always experienced despair in my mind:

You suck.  Stop playing.

 I could never push through.  I always put the instrument down after an hour.  If I didn’t, I would end up in tears.  But giving up made me guilty.

You’re lazy.  Practice more.

 A vicious cycle, even though I did my best to counter it.  I took Prozac and had weekly sessions with a therapist.  Only three years earlier, I spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital for teens.

I began undergraduate studies at…

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