The Entrepreneurial Musician

I had an inspiring time speaking with Andrew Hitz for his podcast The Entrepreneurial Musician. Here’s Andrew’s summary of what we talk about: Dana Fonteneau, the woman behind the WholeHearted Musician and the author of It’s Not (JUST) About the Gig: A Musician’s Guide to Creating the Mindset Which Leads to Career Success and Fulfillment, […]

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What To Do When You Feel Like Quitting: How I Took My Life in Music and Created My Own Successful Career Path

  Have you ever wondered if you chose the right career? Have you ever felt like tossing it in and doing something non-music or non-performing related? After spending my life (age 2-age 29) devoted to being a classical cellist, I took a chance (that’s putting it lightly) and went back to school to study psychology. […]

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Why I Have Hope for 2017 and Three Ways to Stay Sane During Uncertainty

  I’ve thought a lot about the transition for this new year.  Never before have I heard on a grand scale people desperately ready to end a year and start another. Facebook, in particular, shows this sentiment where over and over people’s rage and frustration got expressed towards the year. I even know a friend […]

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What Do You Do When You Can’t Find Your Purpose? Thoughts on Musicians and Meaning, Life Purpose and Self Worth Inspired by Pianist Leon Fleisher.


This post is a follow-up from a recent article called The Dark Side of Success: Thoughts on Musicians and the Post Concert Blues.

In that article, I spoke about the patterns so many creative people face- the yo-yo swing from elated inspiration to being down in the dumps with no energy, motivation or direction. This continues until that next big thing comes along and then the cycle repeats.

During my own recent period of such a process, I found myself devouring everything I could learn about the renowned pianist Leon Fleisher.  It started because I had found a misplaced CD of his titled Two Hands which is one of the most beautiful and profound recordings I know of.

Debussy Claire de Lune:

If you don’t know about Leon Fleisher and his remarkable journey, I recommend taking the time to learn about him.

Here is a wonderful article  titled “My Life Fell Apart…”  by Lynne Walker for The Independent

“At 16, he was ‘the pianistic find of the century’. There followed a sparkling two decades before his right hand seized up mysteriously. After a 40-year battle to regain mastery of the keyboard, Leon Fleisher was headlining the 2010 Aldeburgh Festival. Lynne Walker hears his extraordinary story.”

There is also a short documentary about his journey also titled Two Hands and finally a feature about that documentary on NPR that you can find here.

Every time I listen to this CD I have to stop what I’m doing and just listen deeply. Each time these exquisite moments of profound music-making take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes.

It reminds me over and over how stunning music, how profound and meaningful it is…

When I think of the music that moves me deeply, I recognize that it is often because the musician and or the composer is a great humanitarian who has overcome some devastating tragedy and come through it to the other side. As a result of those experiences, he or she contributed something exceptional to the world because of it.

I can’t help but think about the role of music during the times we are currently facing.

So much of our training and thinking about a musical life is about achieving, being successful and “making it.”  In the two videos that follow, you’ll hear an important discussion about this with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Leon Fleisher and violinist Pam Frank.


In particular, listen to Pam Frank’s answer on how it is to be with music after an injury and the emotional process of “having the very thing you love no longer be available to you.”

During times like now, with all the fear and uncertainty, it’s time to know WHY you are a musician. How do you want to make an impact? How can you use music to communicate with others?

This is a time when we as artists can become one community working together for a bigger cause.

Music is needed more than ever and how will you contribute?

With all the unknown and change happening now, this is one area that you can have certainty. Certainty in how you will connect with music and share it with others.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Thank you.

The Dark Side of Success…Thoughts on Musicians and the Post Concert Blues

Today’s the first day I’ve felt hopeful, inspired and motivated in about three weeks. I’d been going non stop since last January where every month since then had some “big thing” and I never had more than a day or two to slow down before revving up for the next project, talk, workshop, presentation, interview […]

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I Used to Think That Freelancing Was a Dirty Word Until…

  I was working with a very talented musician over the summer who after two sessions said to me, “You know, I used to think that freelancing was a dirty word. I used to think it was the last resort if I couldn’t win a job. But now I see it means that I can create […]

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“Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming!”

  “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” -Dory the fish in Finding Nemo According to Facebook, the WholeHearted Musician blog is exactly three years and one month old today. I found an old post I wrote celebrating that it had received 1000 views. My Blog, the Wholehearted Musician, is officially one month old today and has […]

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What if Being Nervous Could Work to Your Advantage?

  Nerves. Jitters. Stage Fright. Fear. Performance Anxiety. No matter what you call it, I’m here to tell you that the experience is valuable and even helpful.       SAY WHAT?! Stop talking CRAZY Dana! Are you saying that my butterflies, shaky hands, sweaty palms, dry mouth, or tight throat can actually help me? […]

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Happy New Year!

  Wow! What a year it’s been. It just takes my breath away. I’ve fallen off the grid a bit with this blog. But I’m back now and I appreciate you for hanging around. How were your holidays? For me, the holiday season has been eye-opening. I’ve had an unusual amount of downtime and also […]

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Fear or Love: Which Do You Choose?

      Last Friday during a break in a busy day of clients, I went to check my phone and see a text pop up on the screen from my step-daughter saying “I’m alive.” I stop what I’m doing: “WTF?!” I unlock the screen and see another text saying “It’s horrible what’s happening here.” I […]

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