Therapist, former musician talks discovering potential as musician

Burhanuddin Calcuttawala

Dana Fonteneau, cellist, somatic psychotherapist and creator of the WholeHearted Musician — a business centered on helping musicians reach their artistic, financial and professional goals — spoke to an audience about building a healthy and realistic career path as a musician. 

Fonteneau outlined her four-step equation for achieving these goals, which includes having an inspired vision, an action plan, accountability and a belief in oneself. She also highlighted why she changed her own career path from musician to therapist. 

“What I realized that I really wanted to do was to help people get beyond their own fear and self-judgment and criticism, and just get up there and make an impact,” Fonteneau said.

She said her love for the music industry brought her to want to right some unfortunate realities in the industry, like its cutthroat nature.

“In my personal opinion, we as a profession are like crabs in a bucket,” Fonteneau said. “You don’t ever have to worry about the crabs getting out. Somehow, as a profession, we turn on each other, with this fierce competition, judgment, guilt and shame … instead of turning out to the rest of the world and [asking], ‘How can I serve you?’” 

Nick Montopoli, chamber music graduate student, said the talk will help his quartet group discover its goal.

“[Fonteneau’s] talk really helped in distilling down our mission statement and really figuring out what we’re about as a group,” Montopoli said. “It was driving that point home of figuring out what you want first and how you want to achieve that.”

Antonio Cavallos, a violin performance masters student, said many of Fonteneau’s points resounded with him as an aspiring musician.

“She talked a lot about … basically everything that we think to ourselves but never articulate and vocalize to anyone else,” Cavallos said. “Once we’ve actually achieved a goal, then what? I think it’s really difficult for someone who’s in their early to mid-20s to have a really good concept of what your career is going to be.”

To that, Fonteneau has a simple answer.

“Success is the byproduct of the destination,” Fonteneau said. “If you don’t [know] where you are and you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hit or miss if you get where you’re going.”