oshawa piano and vocal academy
Kristine Dandavino

The Silence Within The Chaos

I haven’t written a blog post in over ten years. My friend Chris Foley has written countless blog posts on his site The Collaborative Piano Blog. Chris’ posts always inspire me to be a better musician, pedagogue, performer and human.

For weeks, I have hesitated to start blogging again. What could I possibly write, that hasn’t been written before? Surely, there are pedagogues with richer vocabulary and insight. Too often, I have found myself stuck in this trap of comparing my skillset with other musicians and feeling un poco less than adequate. Yet, I have worked as a musician for over 30 years in various capacities, and, somehow figured out how to ‘survive’ the pandemic financially, physically, and spiritually.

For a moment, I would invite anyone who is feeling ‘less than’ because their career is less than they had expected it to be, to pause for a moment. Just a moment, I am not asking you to go into a deep meditative state. For a moment, pause, close your eyes and be at one with the silence/solitude/noise/chaos that might be surrounding you. Take a breath, release this breath, open your eyes, and can you, for a moment, find a moment of gratitude. Anything/anyone.

I’ve made a conscious decision to remove all social media from my phone. The constant bombardment of the negative and sheer ugliness of the perpetual chaos often prevents us from noticing the beautiful moments of life. Case in point, I haven’t noticed that my dog is taking a peaceful nap, after being in a canine tornado. Tim aka The World’s Crankiest Yorkie has been my best friend during this pandemic. More than once, he has taught me to laugh at my shortcomings, reminded me to breathe when a musical phrase is too long, and to go for a walk, when I am about to rip the music apart (I destroy a lot of musical scores, do not do this at home, it is expensive).

When I did this simple exercise, I felt grateful for my computer, my comfortable chair, and my new glasses. Then, without missing a beat, self-doubt came back, “Argh, I don’t know how to insert a picture on this blog post. I suck. This is stupid.” Then, I made the choice to close my eyes again, to take another breath.

As a musician who teaches mindfulness, and practices mindfulness, almost every day, I can tell you one thing: I suck at, it big time. We never truly master anything. We are in a constant learning journey, healing, and growth. Anyone who tells you that they have mastered mindfulness: they are lying! I don’t have to be Chris Foley, I have to be me. I invite you to do the same today. Be you, it is way easier. Now, go practice! (Joke!)

Kristine Dandavino