By Abdulaziz Salah
Nadia Dandachi is a young Saudi pianist who still manages to do both music and study for her medical degree. Talk about the best of both worlds! At Destination, we discuss with Nadia her journey on how she began with music, which career she’s leaning towards more and how the community is accepting such talent.
Who is Nadia Dandachi?
I’m just a young woman with dreams too big to squeeze into one lifetime. I strive towards happiness, for the people around me including myself. And simply, music and medicine together, serve my purpose.
What got you into playing the piano and at what age did you start taking it seriously?
I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old, and I have always taken it seriously. I wasn’t the kind of kid to get bored too fast or too easily. When I liked something, I wanted to keep going until I achieved what I wanted out of it. And that kid in me is the one who’s still driving me to want to achieve more.
Talk about the acceptance of being a Saudi female pianist in this part of the world.
When I first started my YouTube channel, my aim was to show my talent to the world, and not just my community. I wanted to show the world that people in Saudi Arabia are also talented and can play music as well as those living in Europe or the States; that we can compete and do better if we had the right will and determination. I’m grateful that I haven’t faced any major difficulties being a female pianist. I do face much negative criticism all the time, but that’s just normal in any other community around the world.
When it comes to opportunities to expose your talent to the public, how often and where do you get a chance to?
Honestly, I barely get any opportunities in Saudi Arabia. They are mostly private events or shows in private homes and consulates only. Playing music in public here is still not quite accepted. So most of my good opportunities happen abroad, like in the UAE.
How do you find balancing out studying medicine and practicing music like?
I can say now that I got used to it, but I can’t say that it’s always easy. It all depends on time organization and taking advantage of any free time, as well as sacrificing a bit of my social life or my naptime, ha ha.
What are your parents’ take on what you do and what is the extent of their support for you?
My parents are the ones who encouraged me to start playing piano in the first place. They noticed my talent and have supported me ever since. My father bought me a piano when I barely started 1st grade, and my mother sat by me every time I practiced. They both did their amazing part in helping me become who I am now, and I have all the love and gratitude in the world for them.
Which career are you more open towards if both music and medicine doors are open and why?
I never want to put myself in the position where I have to choose one of the two. I will always have both music and medicine play a big role in my life no matter what. I am more inclined towards having a career in medicine, but, hey, who said you can only have one career in one field!
What do you think about the music scene in Jeddah and what do you think it’s lacking?
The music scene in Jeddah is truly starting to thrive, but it is not diverse. More than three-quarters of the music scene here is focused only on rap and DJing. In order for more musical genres to develop I believe we need musical guidance, and more encouragement.