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.

Lost.

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.

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First return to the concert stage after nearly seven years away.

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Take a moment and consider all the things you have achieved until this point. Lessons Auditions Competitions Challenging situations Challenging relationships: teachers, mentors, conductors, coaches, parents All the hours of practicing All the hours of rehearsing All the hours of travel All the frustration, irritation, fear, doubt, jealousy, competition Each degree: High school diploma, Bachelors, […]

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Female being bullied by group of students

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create your own story, be the director of your own life

My friend Noah Hoffeld shared this amazing article Don Draper’s Advice For Actors by Amy Jo Berman. It totally made my day. YES! I shouted. FINALLY someone out there is thinking outside the box, talking about it and giving totally awesome advice!  I highly recommend that you read the article.  Here’s the essence of it and why it’s […]

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Are You Dragging Yourself Across the Finish Line?

  Exhausted? Frustrated? Broke?  Just finished the season or the academic year feeling less than stellar?  Was it all you could do to just FINISH?   Welcome to burn out land, my friend.   You’re talking to a colleague and you say, “how’s it going?” And she replies: “oh man, I’ve got three gigs and […]

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Girl or employee holding showing card with text I hate my job

Last week I wrote a blog post titled Will I Ruin My Musical Career If I Take a Non-Performing Job? and things got a little crazy. To date the blog post has gotten over 40,000 hits and people are engaging in really important and heated conversations. It’s a hot topic that has hit a raw nerve in the […]

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Will I Ruin My Musical Career If I Take a Non-Performing Job ?

Waiter holding coffee cup

I overheard two young musicians speaking recently about what they would do after graduation.  One of them was overcome with worry about how she was going to pay rent.  “I have a few gigs lined up, but I don’t think it’s going to get me very far.  I might have to take this job I was […]

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