The WholeHearted Musician Turns 10!?!

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of The WholeHearted Musician.

I can hardly believe it. We actually made it to double digits.

Looking back, I am so grateful that 10 years ago I had NO IDEA how hard it would be as I think it’s quite miraculous to have made it to this point.

And how does one decide when an anniversary is marked, anyway?

Is it that moment when I decided that I wanted to become a therapist for musicians? Or the moment when I committed to going to graduate school for counseling psychology? Or when I graduated from psychology school and started working professionally as a therapist? Or when I earned my MFT license in the state of California? When I opened my business? When I wrote my first blog post?

After lots of reflection, I decided that THIS is what marks the start: my first class on performance anxiety at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Adult Extension: Fall 2007. The class was called The Psychology of Performance.


This is significant for so many reasons.

I was still teaching and performing full-time when I graduated with my M.A. in counseling psychology. I’ll never forget the day after graduation when I walked into my director’s office at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I entered the waiting room, saw him standing there and nervously asked if he had a minute of spare time to speak with me.

He said he had about 5 minutes and invited me into his office right then and there. So I walked in, sat down and said, “Sir, I have an idea I’d love to present to you. I’d like to teach a class. It involves psychology and musicians…”

Next thing I knew, I set the dates, put my first proposal on paper, got a homemade publicity photo, told everyone I knew that I would be teaching a class at SFCM, prayed that people would register and TA DA-the WholeHearted Musician was BORN!

Trial by fire.

That first class seemed to be graced by divine guidance. Several “celebrity faculty” members from the conservatory took the class in the interest of being more sensitive and informed teachers. Other professional musicians came because they wanted more tools for performing and taking auditions. The registration sold out. It seemed like my dream was coming true.

But then after that first semester, it was hell.

I struggled to get enrollment. I struggled with bureaucracy. I struggled with the curriculum. 

Somehow “stage fright” was a dirty word that no one wanted to talk about, yet “empowerment” was too “new agey” and made me lose credibility. How was I going to get people to discuss the real issues without talking about stage fright or getting empowered?

What I did and what I stood for was something everyone needed, but no one wanted to admit they needed.  And those that wanted to work with me couldn’t pay for it. And every place I pitched my work to said something to the effect of “we’d love to have you do something, but we don’t have the funds or support for this kind of project.”

So I struggled. For years. And years. And I almost quit.

But along the way, I had incredible friends and support.  It seems like every time I was on the cusp of giving up, someone came out of the wood work and said the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it was a word of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. And other times it was advice, a reference or a lead. And other times it was an opportunity to speak or consult.

Eventually, I got clients. It’s taken me years to build my clientele and I’ve worked with soloists, conservatory faculty, and major chamber music ensembles. Then I started consulting and have branched out to managers, boards, and businesses.

I have now presented at almost every major music school and conservatory in the United States as well as a conferences and music festivals.


Summer 2016-2017 WHM classes on career development for UNL’s Chamber Music Intensive with the Chiara String Quartet.


September 2016 WholeHearted Musician residency at UT Austin’s Butler School of Music.

I’ve published a book.




And I still feel like I’m JUST getting started.

I’ve had incredible advocates of me and my work.  And I still get challenged-all the time. One colleague recently asked me “but does anyone actually PAY you?” as if it was so hard for her to believe that people could value my work enough to pay money for it.

But the truth is, the WholeHearted Musician exists because of YOU.

I would never be able to fulfill this vision if it weren’t for you-your courage, your vulnerability, your heart, your dreams and your overall kick-ass awesomeness.

So in honor of YOU, I will be writing a ten post blog series address the top ten things I’ve learned this last decade. I’ll also be launching a master mind group on the psychology of teaching, a course on money mastery for musicians and much more.


I can’t wait to see what we do these next ten years and beyond!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

MKI Artists