Piano teachers get a bad rap, in part because of the challenges of music literacy, i.e., reading sheet music, and the repetition needed to acquire fluency. There is even a semi-autobiographical psychological study that uses the piano teacher as an archetype of sadomasochism.

The Piano Teacher: A Case Study in Perversion and Sadomasochism

Christopher Christian, Ph.D., FIPA 

The Piano Teacher (Jelinek, 1988) is an intensely evocative, semi-autobiographical novel (Weedon, 1997)1 by Nobel Prize laureate and Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek that provides an unusual glimpse at the artistic rendition of a woman with a severe sadomasochistic character disorder. The novel tells the story of the enmeshed relationship between Erika Kohut, a piano teacher with sadomasochistic perversions, and her overcontrolling mother, with whom Erika lives. The novel's incidental contribution to psychoanalysis lies in the fact that, as Grossman (1986), Novick and Novick (1987), and others have observed, women with severe masochistic perversions, like the piano teacher, very rarely come to analysis, and when they do they are among the most difficult cases to treat."

Yet despite this characterization, and archetype, most piano teachers are driven by a passion for music and teaching, and are attempting to bring light and beauty into their student's world.

What goes wrong for them and their students to bring about these stereotypes? Comment below and speak your mind...

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