Thereministic depression

Posted: 8/8/2011 10:22:05 AM

From: Florence, Italy

Joined: 4/24/2011

I don't know if anyone of you have ever experienced this feeling, but right now I'm just in the middle of it...
In the last thread I wrote here I said how love the instrument and how happy I was to play it, even if it was difficult... well, since then months have passed, and things are really different now...
I spent whole July in Ireland for a student exchange program, and I had the most happy and wonderful time of my life... obviously coming back from such a great experience was traumatic, and I felt a little bit depressed when I came back two weeks ago...
but, when I first set my hands on the theremin, I felt awful... I was just as capable as I was before departing for Ireland, but I started feeling strange... I'm still not precise (nor I was before departing) and I still can't get the notes precisely... but now I feel like I will never be able to improve or to play it better...

I don't know if it's just something fleeting, but I feel bad...

Am I the only one in this situation?
Posted: 8/8/2011 12:14:06 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Hello Leonardo.

You are not alone. Even the astronauts who went to the moon came back with this sort of depression. A major accomplishment, an enjoyable experience comes to an end, and we're faced with the often daunting reality of everyday life. There's the instrument in the corner. We left it at a given level of progress, and now we return to it after a certain amount of time in which we've likely lost some of the finite skills we worked hard to develop prior to our departure. And now, we are suddenly a few steps back from where we were. The shock of returning to the ordinary life, and restoring what progress was lost as a result of the away trip can be a challenge.

However. There is always hope. It will take time, but with determination, you will be able to recover the forgotten bits of technique, and you'll find that you really remember more than you thought. The feelings of depression from nolonger being in that exciting environment on the trip should, with time, pass as well. How long depends on each person.

I recently got back from Hands Off 2011, and am facing the exact same thing. Believe it or not, there were many days when I did not have access to my theremin due to all the travel and logistics that were involved. I'm having to literally relearn a lot of the works I'd rehearsed for months.

Start back on the instrument slowly. Just have fun with it, and don't push to hard to relearn stuff. Let your self relax, and regroup from the trip. And above all, keep the good times alive in your mind as you slowly get back to the instrument, and your normal routines.
Posted: 8/8/2011 12:49:38 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

I also second what Thomas just explained. When you get back to "normal" life, you somwhat feel that the "happy feeling state" has come down, kind of like a sensation of Withdrawal that one can experience. I am not talking about substance withdrawal, but it can also happen to many different aspects of life... You need to be patient with yourself until you get back into normalcy (if there is such a thing...). Maybe your sleeping patterns are not totally balanced yet hence not hepling to your state of mind.

When I read your thread title "Thereministic Depression" I really thought you meant that you were depressed cause your progress was not as fast as you expected. But I was wrong :)

I would like to suggest that perhaps it would be beneficial for you to take a lesson with a Thereminist to assess your up to date progression and help you to further your efforts? If there is no one in your area, I strongly suggest one through Skype with Thomas Grillo! Thomas and I really do NOT have the same method, but because of his expertise he's able to help me in MY progression giving lots of advice and endcouragements. That alone, is a picker-upper of great benefits!

Something to think about :)
Posted: 8/8/2011 1:55:48 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

It's been my experience that if your mood is not what it should be, or you're having a bad theremin day, it's best to just turn the theremin off and come back another day.

Playing the theremin is hard enough. The last thing you want to do is cultivate bad feelings associated with it. That increases the likelihood that you'll abandon it altogether.

Cherish the time you've spent in Ireland. It is something you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Posted: 8/8/2011 6:25:49 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

There are plateaux in every long climb. Plod on regardless. :-)
Posted: 8/9/2011 8:22:34 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

My personal expierience with depression is that it can severely influence ones desire to play any musical instrument.. It is also my expierience that the best cure for depression is to play!

I do not have experience of playing a theremin in this context, but I have used this "cure" with various instruments, and they all worked.. The first time I did this was when I was about 14, and only had an old signal generator and some circuits I had knocked together - using the sig-gen dial to play "music" is probably equivalent to playing a theremin in terms of difficulty. I then progressed to using a monophonic synthesiser I had built, then to polyphonic synths.

I find that I get relief from depression (regardless of what causes this) by forcing myself to just play, after a while I find that I lose myself in the playing - Definately not trying to play any tunes I have not created and definately not trying to hone any playing skills - just playing whatever comes .. Howling out the pain in the "music" I play - And often singing it out at the same time - words coming almost like automatic writing - probably mostly nonsense, but at times revealing surprising insights into the source of my depression.

When my first marriage came to a sudden acromonious end, I believe that my music saved my life.. I got custody of my 2 young daughters and life consisted of working part time, and looking after them on my own - I had 6 years where my only relief from depression was my "music" and the love from my children and the sense of purpose they gave me.

I cannot know whether this "escape" would work for everyone, all I can say is that it worked for me -

I am going to go off on an extreme indulgent rant now ;-) I make no apology for this, I believe I have just started a life changing phase of my life, and want to share this..

I have never been someone who was into "self help" books or "life coaching" - But I have been through the whole counselling gambit - Nothing "worked" except music.. But music did not fix all the underlying problems...

My recent health (and relationship) problems caused me to seek help from sources I never tried because of my scientific bias - I have spent a week with an old friend who is a life-coach and Rieki practitioner, and was introduced to "The seven habits of highly effective people" by Stephen Covey.. I have only worked through the first 3 habits, and started to alter my paradigms and destructive (reactive) behaviors - The surprising effect of this is that my depression has lifted in a way I have never expierienced before - I can now often choose not to be depressed, or if I find this difficult, go back and reabsorb the wisdoms detailed in the first habit, the reinforcement of which enables me to choose.. What I have understood for the first time in my life is that I am responsible for everything I feel - That there is nothing anyone or anything can do which can affect me, unless I give that person/thing the power to do so... Sure, on a physical level I can be hurt, I can have my liberty restricted, external events can be unpleasant - But my old habit was to react to these stimuli in a fatalistic way.. The first habit detailed in Covey's book is proactivty - and this is about taking control and responsibility - I argued against the ideas presented, I found them outrageous and unpalatable, but eventually realised the truth in them.. And it seems that a (for me, surprising) result has been a cure for depression.

Best wishes,

Ps.. I do not know (and frankly, do not care) how it works - but I felt the week of Rieki 'therapy' has done wonders for me physically.. but this is not confirmed by medical readings, so I do not know if it is "real" in hard medical terms.. But feeling better is, I guess, a huge step towards getting better.
Posted: 8/10/2011 4:16:21 AM

From: Florence, Italy

Joined: 4/24/2011

Thank you a lot for your replies... you really made me feel better...
I think that, like Thomas and Jeff suggested, I'll take it easy with the theremin...

@Thomas: thank you a lot, you made me feel I'm not alone...

@Amethyste: you were not completely wrong, since sometimes I also feel a little bit disappointed because I'm not improving as fast as I first expected, but when I decided to buy a theremin I knew it wouldn't be easy at all and that it would have taken months, if not years, to play it decently...

@Fred: you can't know how much I agree with you: piano has rescued me I don't know how many times from bad periods of my life... but the fact is that it makes me feel better because of the satisfaction it gives me when I play it, and the theremin does not give me that kind of satisfaction yet...

Thank you all again...

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