Q&A with Dr. Renee Epstein, psychologist with the SMI

By Adelle Farrelly

Reprinted from Prélude magazine, Spring/Summer 2013


Dr. Renee Epstein is a psychologist with the NAC’s annual Summer Music Institute (SMI), which offers three weeks of training to gifted young musicians in their teens to mid-twenties.

Q: What issues are specific to young musicians?

A. Generally the issues are different for various age groups: the early adolescents worry about social relationships, often feeling “different” from other kids in their schools. Older adolescents often have concerns about career choices, family pressures and relationship issues. Overall there are also concerns about self confidence, levels of competence and competition with peers.

Q: What techniques do you offer to help them as musicians?

A. My role is about listening and helping participants address emotional concerns. I mostly work with issues concerning relationships with peers, parents and teachers. For example, if the person is dealing with stage fright, I will offer coping mechanisms. But I am primarily concerned with how these dedicated young people are dealing with others. If more serious issues emerge, I will make a referral to outside resources.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A. I’m proud that I have become very accessible and available. So instead of feeling self-conscious about coming to the psychologist’s offi ce, I will typically see three or four kids outside my door, chatting with each other as they wait to book an appointment.