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.

Why THANK YOU Matters.

  Why is it so hard for performers to (genuinely) accept compliments after a performance? We’ve all been there. Someone comes up to you backstage after a concert and tries to tell you how beautifully you played. “That was GREAT! BRAVO!” But rather than being able to hear them or receive their compliments, those internal […]

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The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done and How I Faced My Demons.

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

  On September 16, 2015 I did the scariest thing I think I’ve ever done. I played my first concert in nearly seven years. (That’s me on the left.) I nearly lost my lunch before I walked out on stage. “WHAT AM I THINKING?! WHOSE INSANE IDEA WAS THIS?!” You see, it wasn’t just seven years […]

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The Tragedy of Success: Why You Have to Think BEYOND the Win.

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.–Oscar Wilde This quote has been haunting my thoughts the last few days. I’m just coming off a big victory… I took a huge leap of faith and the rewards far surpassed what I could’ve dreamed […]

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Why it’s OK to Be Proud of Yourself.

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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Calculator on money

I recently saw this video of a Dove commercial that showed a study in which women had to choose which door to walk through to get inside a building.  The doors were side by side and had a label marked above it. One had the word BEAUTIFUL marked above and the other had the word AVERAGE. Basically the […]

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How I Went from Being a Professional Cellist to a Psychotherpist, Healer and Creator of the WholeHearted Musician™

I had the honor of being interviewed by James Newcomb, trumpeter, creator and host of the podcast Outside the Music Box. He had some really interesting questions for me and got me talking about my journey from cellist to therapist to creator of the WholeHearted Musician™. For many musicians, it can be terrifying to think […]

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Live Your Life by Inspired Design: How To Create Your Own Career. (Pt. 3/6)

If you’ve been following this blog series, you’ve now been asking yourself a lot of important questions.  Part 1 addressed the importance of having a vision for your career, questioning career choices and finding your WHY.  Part 2 looks at actually defining career  and what a career in music can look like in addition to the […]

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The Highest Priority Thing Most Career Development Centers Are Missing.

What’s Your Vision? As we enter the age of musical entrepreneurship, it’s an exciting time of limitless possibility and freedom in creating the musical life you want.  If you do the research, you’ll find many fantastic resources available for learning how to manage your finances, apply for a grant, build a website and apply for […]

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Are You Waiting for Permission to Be Successful?

Do You Have Brilliant Ideas? Have you ever had a really GREAT idea but had no clear sense of how to make it happen?  Perhaps you ou have two diverse passions and you want to bring them together in a unique way that hasn’t been done before.  Or you see a cause that you’d like […]

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