proanotherworkgress asked: How do you work on having more self-confidence in yourself as a musician and in your work? Basically how do you prevent yourself from selling yourself short?

 

Confidence is such a huge and delicate part of being a good musician. Without it, plenty of talented individuals with great potential end up dropping their musical dreams, convinced they’re awful. With too much, other musicians sometimes burn bridges or blow auditions because they don’t prepare as they should or act cocky. The trick is to find the balancing point between selling yourself short and pissing off fellow musicians. With that in mind, here are four tips to help boost your own self-confidence!

Write a list of accomplishments. 

Literally sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, or potentially your computer laptop and a word doc, and write down every single thing you’re proud of doing ever. This can be just musical achievements, or beyond that, depending on where your self-confidence needs work. If you have trouble thinking of things you’re proud of, just start listing concerts you’ve performed. Include Choir concerts, Ensemble concerts, recitals, and anything else that you can think of. Usually, the listel turn out to be much longer than you anticipated. And if you think of anything that you left off, add it to the list later. Whenever you have a day where you just can’t feel good about your abilities, go back and look at this list. You’ve already done a ton of stuff. You have no reason to feel bad about your abilities!

Practice positive self-talk.

Sometimes, we are the biggest enemy of our own self-confidence. We can watch someone else perform, and instead of admiring their abilities, we bash ourselves for not being that good. Whenever you notice yourself starting to talk poorly about yourself in your own head, or even out loud, stop. Take a moment and think about whether you would say that about your best friend. If not, stop saying it! You are your own best friend. Compliment yourself when you do something well, and don’t let that mean voice in the back of your head get away with insulting your real best friend – you.

Set goals and work to achieve them.

One of the best self confidence boost is reaching a goal you have set for yourself. If you need help deciding what goal to set, compare the list of achievements you just wrote with those of someone in the position you want to reach. Then set out to achieve those things yourself! You can start small, like improving your scales by 10 bpm. Once you’ve achieved that, I promise you that slightly larger goals will seem easier to reach. This snowballs in the more complex your goals and achievements get!

Ask a trusted mentor for an opinion of your skills.

Finally, if nothing else above has helped you out, ask your teacher or another trusted mentor to give you an objective view of your skills. Now, you might argue that your teacher or someone you trust old want to hurt your feelings, which is true. However, they will want what is best for your future more than anything. If they don’t think you’re cut out for your goals, they will tell you. Otherwise, they’ll just tell you what you need to do to improve to reach your dreams. Usually, their opinion of your skills is much higher than your own.

(I once had a master class that killed my confidence. Smashed it to pieces. Then immediately afterwards, my advisor walks up to me and starts roundly complimenting me on how well I did and how amazing my aria was. Definitely made me feel better.)

 

Self-confidence is a tricky beast. The best way to get a self confidence boost is to try to be objective about your skills. If, objectively, they aren’t that great, then you can work to improve! It’s really this improvement that is the creator of self-confidence. You’ve got this!

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