Most of us have doubts about ourselves from time to time, hesitant whether we could really be successful musicians, regardless of our definition of success. Let’s look at some of the myths and statements that lurk in the back of our heads and provoke them with new perspectives.
1: I’m not musically skilled enough
Are you aspiring to learn to sing one song, play two chords, write a simple melody, or to be the next virtuoso? It seems – among both students and instrumental teachers I’ve met through the years – that many unconsciously carry the belief that they will fail if they don’t reach a high level of musicianship. First of all, the majority of people who take music lessons don’t seek to pursue a career in music. More often, it’s about finding inspiration, sharing music with loved ones, or using it as a form of therapy. Surely there is value in all of that? And yes, skill might make you able to tell your story better, but really, music isn’t reserved for who has the highest skill level. Music is for everyone.
2: I lack natural talent
Our ability to, and pace in which we, learn music, surely varies. And yes, our natural talent plays a part, but it’s not everything. Every person, skilled at what they do, have one thing in common – they have invested a great deal of time in mastering that skill. During my first years of learning music I had a good ear but a terrible playing technique. So, I invested time in developing my technique. Here’s another way to see it: Nothing is difficult – some things just take a little longer to learn. It might not always be true, still, it might be enough to trick your mind into a state of less self-pressure.
3: I’m too old to learn music
The brain doesn’t suddenly stop learning new things at a certain age. It will continue to learn for as long as you live. And while a child’s brain might learn quicker, the adult intellect can better deal with the complexity of music. So, you lose some, and gain some. And as stated earlier, you don’t need an extraordinary set of skills to enjoy your musicianship.
4: I don’t have the time
Well, this one may actually be true at times. But it may also be a way of putting things off for later. But when does later become now? Next year? The year after that? The future will always be the future until we decide to do something right now. Life is busy, so start by making your music a priority. Formulate a simple, uncomplicated routine executed on a daily basis, and grow from there. If you are new to practicing music, start with just five minutes a day. When you’re ready, expand to ten minutes, and so forth. Build a daily, consistent habit.
5: No one will like or care about what I do
How do you know that for sure if you haven’t tried? If you have tried and people have pushed you down, why not ask yourself where you can find people who appreciate what you do? Locate that one friend, family member or internet community that actually do care.
6. I am not enough
Consider the fast and stressful pace of the world today, its obsession with effectiveness, where no one ever is enough. Then let me tell you this: your value as a human being is not related to your work. Music is all about expressing who you are. So, try to find what works for you, where it’s ok to be yourself, whichever level you’re at. And for the areas in your musicianship that come less naturally (we all have those) – reach out to people who can complement you.
7: I am not authorized to do what I do
Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you’re not supposed to be in the line of work that you are? I experienced this during my first years teaching piano. And, honestly, while creating this blog. I felt like I wasn’t ready and kept asking myself if I really had the right to tell others what to do, and how to do it. But unless there is a formal certification or diploma preventing you from effecting what you want to do, just start, and soon you’ll see a development in your work. If it still feels overwhelming then start in a smaller scale. My first year of teaching piano I only had two students. It felt enough at the time, and as long as you stay motivated the progress will show eventually.
8. I cannot pursue a career in music
Working with music is challenging. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and society rarely approves. (The same society that requests good music, isn’t that interesting?) No matter if you’re aspiring to be a performing musician, a teacher, songwriter or sound engineer, there is a lot of work to put in. So, ask yourself this. Are you prepared to do what it takes? Replace the cannot with a how and why, decide what a career in music means to you. Do what works for you.
Did you like what you just read? Are you looking for further answers to your challenges? Don’t hesitate to comment on these topics, or any other, below.