As a musician, are you satisfied with your relationships?

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 115, No. 3March, 2015

Hannah Wineburgh
Photo: Franck-Boston via

Photo: Franck-Boston via

Do you ever feel like you have difficulty maintaining your relationships and friendships? Or are you dissatisfied with those you do have? Or perhaps you feel a void in your life and wish that you had more grounding relationships? Social life for musicians can be difficult, as the schedule and hours are different from the typical 9 to 5 workday. This can make your social circles very insular, since you may find yourself socializing only with other musicians. Also, when your work schedule is constantly changing and evolving, friendships and relationships may enter and exit your life in a rapid fashion. You may develop a close bond with a friend during a gig and then when the gig has ended, you may find that your friendship is over as well. In today’s world of hyper-connectivity, where everyone is always plugged into phones and tablets, there is the illusion of closeness – and yet in your personal life, you may actually experience a great sense of loneliness. In the music industry, you are constantly “starting over” in meeting new people whenever you start a new gig, and friendships may be intense, yet very short-lived.

Given that, do you find yourself preoccupied with the impending loss of friendships and bandmates when you begin a new project? Perhaps you detach yourself from others prematurely, knowing that your work together will soon end and so too will the friendships and relationships you have made. After all, unlike a typical desk job where you have the luxury of seeing your co-workers every day, in the music industry you may never cross paths with co-workers again – and if you do, it may only be in a superficial and fleeting way.

If you notice this to be a pattern in your life, it is important that you take stock of it. As the Huffington Post reported a few years ago, the deterioration of connections with each other “not only impoverishes our personal and communal lives, but also has significant effect on our health and wellbeing.”

So while the nature of your work may present specific challenges to maintaining intimate friendships, you do have the power to feel like your best self! Realize that the act of talking and processing one’s feelings aloud with a friend can have a very calming and cathartic effect. And ask yourself these questions: Am I feeling nourished and fulfilled by my relationships? Are my needs being met? If not, you may suffer depression, hopelessness or isolation. These feelings may affect your ability to focus and bring your best self forward in your work.

Why wait to address your concerns? Now is as good a time as any to reach out and get the support you need. The Musicians’ Assistance Program offers free and confidential short-term counseling for all Local 802 members. Call today to set up an appointment with one of our social workers. We can work with you to explore your feelings and develop strategies for creating and sustaining nourishing friendships and relationships in your future.

We can also refer you to other services that will enhance your physical, mental and financial well-being. Need help navigating the health insurance system? Applying for affordable housing? Finding more job opportunities? We are here to answer your questions and provide a supportive space to discuss your needs.

We also provide financial wellness services (including budget counseling) and we are the gateway to the union’s Emergency Relief Fund, which offers financial assistance to cover the cost of an urgent bill. Our office is located on the sixth floor of the Local 802 building and we are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call us at (212) 397-4802 to schedule an appointment with one of our social workers. We look forward to meeting you and beginning our work together!

Hannah Wineburgh is the social work intern at the Musicians’ Assistance Program.

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.