Monday, July 14, 2014

Michigander Monday: Julie Jaffee Nagel

I'm pleased to welcome Dr. Julie Jaffee Nagel to Michigander Monday:

Debbie:  Julie, please tell us a little about yourself.

Julie:  I am a hybrid.  Since I was a very small child, I wanted to be a concert pianist and I pursued that goal for many years.  I attended The Juilliard School in New York City and graduated with both my Bachelor of Music and Master of Science Degrees in Piano.  After being in the music field performing and teaching for about 15 years, I returned to school at The University of Michigan where I earned my Masters Degree in Social Work, my Master’s Degree in Psychology and my Ph.D. in both Psychology and Social Work.  I was fascinated by stage fright and career choice in music, both of which were a part of my life. After receiving my doctorate I worked as a therapist and taught some courses at University of Michigan, but gradually I decided to deepen my understanding of myself and the people I treated in my consulting room.  I trained to become a psychoanalyst at The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. I am in private practice in Ann Arbor where I see people (not just musicians) who experience stage fright as well as depression, anxiety issues, career concerns, relationship problems, and other mental health issues. I love to help people grow emotionally and feel good about themselves.  I give presentations to organizations of all kinds, publish articles in peer reviewed journals, and have recently had my  first book published - Melodies of the Mind which combines my work in music and mental health. I write regular blogs and you can find them on my website:  At my web site, readers are invited to subscribe to my blog to receive it automatically.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book.

Julie:  Melodies of the Mind takes an in-depth look about how music is a direct pathway to our emotions – even before we can find words to describe how we feel.  My work is original in that I use music itself as my formal “data” and show how music and psychological ideas are very compatible with each other.  For example, I examine the concepts of conflict and tension we all experience and how we can (or don’t) deal with these feelings.  To do this, I analyzed music from West Side Story  - and particularly the songs “Gee, Officer Krupke” and “The Tonight Ensemble.”  You don’t have to know how music “works” to be moved by it, but I show how it does work and why it evokes feelings.  Other chapters offer other specific musical compositions to illustrate psychological themes such as love, envy, hate, jealousy, psychological development.  One of my important goals is to illustrate how both music and psychology are relevant in everyday life, and need to be used “outside their formal boxes” of the concert hall and consulting room.  Music and psychological ideas are relevant to the fields of education, the humanities, and in social or even political settings. You don’t need to be a musician or a psychologist to know that music affects you deeply.  I try to show how and why this happens.  I love blending my “two” passions.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Julie:  I am in the process of writing another book on Performance Anxiety – as a manual for music teachers. I have a publisher for this book.  I also hope to find a different trade publisher for a book on Stage Fright, written as a narrative,  that will be interesting  and helpful to the general public.  Stage Fright is something that all kinds of people struggle with –musicians, actors, writers, academics, executives, lawyers, physicians, athletes, public speakers, students – and people with social anxiety…..the list is endless.  Stage fright is part of being human but it can be channeled and not interfere with professional and personal fulfillment or be overwhelming.

I was also invited to write a regular column for Clavier Companion and another article on musicians’ psychological health and “wellness” for The American Music Teacher.  These are ways I enjoy blending my background in music and mental health while interacting with music teachers and others.  It’s important to realize that mental attitudes are as important as aptitudes in performing – whether it is music, public speaking, test taking, writing, social interactions and other ways we live in the world.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Julie:  Just gave a TED-style talk on Stage Fright at the American Psychoanalytic Association Meetings in Chicago (June 2014).  This was a fascinating experience - unlike any presentation I’ve done in the past.  I’d love to give a “real” TED talk on this topic - the audience really liked it.

Ohio State Music Teachers’ Conference, Oct. 2014 (Stage Fright)

Contemporary Freudian Society, New York City -  Nov. 2014 (A “conversation”  I wrote between Freud and Mozart  - they return from eternity to talk with each other)

American Psychoanalytic Association  - New York City – Jan. 2015 – (Stage Fright and Shame Dynamics)

Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida- winter 2014 (Stage Fright)

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Julie:  I wish we had more bookstores PERIOD – it’s so sad to see them disappearing. And it’s so good too hold a book in your hand.  I am not a fan of Kindle.

In Ann Arbor we only have 2 independent  books stores now – Nicola's which has long survived, and a new one Literati.

I can’t imagine a better library than the Graduate Library at the University of Michigan.  When I wrote my dissertation, I would go to the stacks (in the days before everything was on computer) and look for journals and books and then get fascinated by seeing something else not related to my topic (Career Choice in Music).  So I would sit down and read all kinds of things before I ever got what I needed for my own work.  That was wonderful.  I love computers, but you can’t browse the internet the way you can the stacks in a good library.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Julie:  I love Ann Arbor and happy to call it home for so many years.  When we first moved here in 1969 from New York, Ann Arbor was already a wonderful place but nothing like it has become –even  more cosmopolitan now but still with a small town feel.  At that time there was only one Chinese restaurant in the entire city -  that served  egg drop soup (with saltine crackers!!!) as their only soup choice. Now we have many international choices for dining and more and more creative cultural events all the time.

I love the UP and Northern Michigan – taught piano and performed for about 13 years at National Music Camp in Interlochen and fell in love with the area…..This was all before I changed careers to psychology.

I love the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market.

The magnificent River Walk in downtown Dexter is a wonderful place to walk in the middle of nature surrounded by water – I think it extends from Dexter to the Huron River – and there are the most beautiful plants and birds, and little waterfalls, and all kinds of nature along the way.   It is a very peaceful place  for a mental vacation. Whoever designed and built it are geniuses.

Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor is a gem – intimate setting and lovely surroundings.  Wonderful piano for performances.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Julie:  I enjoy the annual Art Fair in the summer in Ann Arbor – although it’s usually the hottest week of the summer.  The creativity of all the artists is amazing.  I love the concerts at Hill Auditorium.  I appreciate the change of seasons – although this past winter is not on that list.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Julie:  My husband, Louis – is one of the best pianists I've ever heard (personal bias aside) – he is at home on the stage and just gave a memorable concert at Steinway Hall in New York City in April…..he is on the piano faculty at Univ. Michigan School of Music. We met at Juilliard.

A special person to us is our veterinarian in Ann Arbor, Dr. Bill MacArthur.  He takes care of your pet like a member of your and his family.  Dr. Bill gave extra quality years and long life to our beloved cat, Cadenza. I am eternally grateful to him.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Julie:  Aside from last winter- this is a fabulous place to live.  We have everything in Michigan – culture, sports, education, good food, the lakes, and ever-changing weather.  And the people are pretty nice too!!

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Julie:  I am a Michigander –  We moved to Ann Arbor in 1969.  This is my home!

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much, Julie, for being here today for Michigander Monday!

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