Q&A: Pianist Jon Dahlander
When he signed with local company Carpe Diem Records in 1995, he became its fastest selling artist. And now, thanks to the Internet, people across the world download his music.
t’s not unusual to find neighbor Jon Dahlander taping a segment of the student news program School Zone, one of his many roles in Dallas ISD’s communications department. But many people don’t realize that Dahlander is a talented piano player with fans near and wide. When he signed with local company Carpe Diem Records in 1995, he became its fastest selling artist. And now, thanks to the Internet, people across the world download his music.
When did you start playing the piano?
I started playing at age 5. I took some lessons during elementary school. I quit doing that so I could play the trombone … but I started going back to piano. In college, that was the highlight of my day, finding a room I could play and create.
What do you enjoy about it?
It’s a form of release, expression. So to me, it’s kind of relaxing in a way. I’ve been a music fan since I was 6 months old and heard the Beatles on the radio. The ability to create my own songs is very appealing to me. Some people have journals that they write in; mine happens to be the piano. These just happen to be songs without words.
Why did you major in communications rather than music?
I don’t know. Music is a hard field to really make it in. I just didn’t feel like majoring in music would build my career opportunities. I felt that if I pursued music, it would be something on the side. And that’s how it has been. I didn’t want to be locked into doing music for the rest of my life. I want it to have this special place, rather than being a vocation.
How do people learn about your music?
I’m really not out marketing my music, but right now it’s an exciting time. I’m on iTunes. I’m on an online piano radio station called whisperings.com and pandora.com. There are people throughout the world creating Jon Dahlander radio stations. Someone in has done that and (in) the . And here I am going through life and changing diapers. [Dahlander and his wife, Heidi, have two young children.]
Is your family musical?
My mom played the baritone. My dad is and was tone deaf. Sitting next to him in church is an interesting experience. They are music fans. They go to the symphony. There’s always something playing in their house.
What is the inspiration for your music?
Usually, it’s just things going on in my life, whether they’re good or they’re bad or indifferent or queasy or emotional. And of course, everyone I’ve listened to, from jazz, classical and pop.
Your first three albums, Piano Landscapes Vol. 1, 2 and 3, were solo projects, and recently you collaborated on Luminas, a guided imagery CD to help cancer patients. How was that different?
With the Luminas thing, we taped her narration first. I’ve never worked with someone singing along … I kind of looked at it as a duet. I was also trying to stay very focused on the project, which is to bring comfort to people listening to the CD.
Did you ever think you would be famous?
I think when you start recording a CD, you think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if someone in got a hold of this, and I started traveling the world playing?’ Of course, that never happened to me and never will. I’m much happier and have a richer life working for the school district and having my family.