Music Students Say Close Association With Craft Can Create Added Pressure

Feb 13, 2020

Students studying music say their close association with their craft can create added emotional pressure.
Credit William Bultez

Studying music in college may lead to students facing additional emotional strain because of the deeply personal nature of their work.

“I’m pretty sure most people have no idea what it’s like to be a music major, and it’s kind of crazy,” said Max Olivier, a cello student at Utah State University.

Like all students, he endures the ups and downs of college life. But many music students undergo added pressures such as performance anxiety and perfectionism because of their close association with their craft.  

“I would say probably the majority experience some sort of depression, whether it be intermittent or more constant. There’s a lot of pressure. When practicing and lessons are a bit rough, it’s really hard not to internalize that,” said David Young.

“It’s because their art, they consider it a part of themselves. And when that gets critiqued, especially not in a healthy way, it can be really damaging to the soul,” Sariah Young said.

Music students like David and Sariah continue in their field despite the increased risk for depression and anxiety because of the community and method of expression music programs offer. 

“Self-expression is a basic human need and music helps me fulfill that,” David said.

“It’s about fulfillment and for me the fulfillment also comes through creativity. It’s probably one of the main ways that I connect with people,” Sariah said.

In addition to the support of students in their community, faculty in the Caine College of the Arts are also working to better support student services through implementing methods such as the critical response theory, a method devised to support healthy conversations about a student’s art.