Polyphony: Emotional Health and the Musician
Weeks, Doug, Magrath, Jane, American Music Teacher
A version of this article first appeared in' the Piano Pedagogy Forum, Volume 3, Number 2, and is reprinted with permission of Piano Pedagogy Forum of the University of South Carolina. it can be accessed at www.music.sc.edu/ea/keyboard/ppf.
Jane Magrath: Doug, we are interested in your investigation of emotional health and the student musician. Can you give us some background for this topic?
Doug Weeks: Creativity and emotional health a topic not extensively addressed in the music curriculum and one both sensitive and complex to discuss--is the subject of the pioneering work of Swiss psychotherapist Alice Miller. She has achieved international recognition for her work on the causes and effects of childhood emotional trauma. Her books, especially The Drama of the Gifted Child, have become classics in the literature of graduate education and psychology programs.
In layman's terms, Miller tells us that a child needs to be loved unconditionally--for the unique individual he or she is. If the child at an early and crucial stage does not receive this unconditional love, then there is a likelihood that a narcissistic disorder will result. In other words, a child must develop from infancy a healthy narcissism by seeing an acceptance of his or her own image reflected in the mother's, or primary caretaker's, eyes. If the child sees nothing of him or herself reflected, but sees only what the care giver wants that child to be, for example a reflection of the mother's own narcissistic needs, then the child may not develop an inner sense of self, but rather will do everything possible to please the mother by fulfilling the mother's needs and expectations.
Miller writes about this condition in The Drama of the Gifted Child (originally published as Das Drama des begabten Kindes, …
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Publication information: Article title: Polyphony: Emotional Health and the Musician. Contributors: Weeks, Doug - Author, Magrath, Jane - Author. Magazine title: American Music Teacher. Volume: 53. Issue: 6 Publication date: June-July 2004. Page number: 78+. © 2009 Music Teachers National Association, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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