As a musician, self-doubt can be the most difficult obstacle to overcome. It frequently manifests as that nagging little voice in the back of our mind, always there, chipping away at our self-esteem. So many musicians give up not because of what others say, but because of what their own mind tells them. Self-doubt is the most difficult criticism we will ever face, not just as a musician, but in any creative field. We always believe that other people can do the same thing much better than us and that by putting ourselves out there, we will only make a fool of ourselves.
If you’re doubting your abilities as a musician, you’re not alone. As artists, we frequently wonder if it will reward our efforts. Will I ever be good enough? Will all of this training pay off? Is it really worth it? In the words of Sylvia Plath – “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”.
Our mind is possibly the most powerful tool in our arsenal. Our mindset can mean spell the difference between success and failure in many aspects of our life and career.
Looking for ways how to conquer self-doubt in music? Here are our tips you can overcome these and still stay motivated.
Read More: The 8 Pros of Being A Multi-Instrumentalist
Remind yourself of yourself
Self-doubt is heavily influenced by how you see yourself. If you don’t think you’re a talented musician, you won’t be motivated to finish your music. One way to overcome self-doubt in music is by reminding yourself of what you’ve done in the past. This could be as simple as keeping a list of your accomplishments on a bulletin board in your studio. Or simply write them down to be inspired. Remember, small achievements are still significant. Writing your first song or learning to play the piano is an enormous accomplishment! Listing them will help you realise just how great you are.
Find inspiration from those around you
Another great way how to overcome self-doubt in music is by exploring artists in different fields – not only musicians but also poets, dancers, and actors. This helps keep you inspired and come up with new ideas, not to mention greatly boosting your self-confidence. While it’s okay to take inspiration from others who are more knowledgeable than us, don’t turn it into a competition about who’s better or not. Instead, compare yourself to the musician you were yesterday. Continue to grow in your own light, not under someone else’s shadow.
Reward yourself for small accomplishments
Celebrate every accomplishment, big or small. For instance, that moment when your fingers grip the guitar in a more relaxed way than they did the day before, or when the trumpet’s embouchure suddenly makes a more pleasant sound, or when the flow of your left hand on the keyboard becomes more natural. One shouldn’t dismiss such supposed trifles as trivial. Sit down and reward yourself!
Focus on the process and the positive
It is important to conquer self-doubt by living in the moment and understanding that the journey, not the result, is what matters. Allow no external distractions to draw your attention away from the task at hand. Recite words of self-praise and acknowledge what you’re doing well. Write those positive aspects on sticky notes or place cards on your music stand or in the inner linings of your instrument case. Concentrate on the positive while systematically working on your flaws through problem-solving and practice.
Learn to trust your abilities
Musicians who are struggling with self-confidence and self-doubt in music tend to speak negatively about themselves. Statements like “I’m not making any progress” are examples of negative comments that undermine self-esteem. You should ask yourself, “Would a friend talk to you like this?” Would they tell you you are not good enough? The answer is no. Therefore, try to treat yourself like a friend would. If you practice enough, you will develop quiet, inner confidence that already exists. When we practice, we build muscle memory through repetition, which is completely instinctive. With this knowledge, you can loosen up on stage or in the recording studio knowing you already know how to play well without having to think about what to do.
Don’t be afraid of criticism from others
Remember that music is subjective. There will always be haters, trolls, and people who get a kick out of passing harsh judgement — especially online. Not everyone will enjoy an artist’s music. Even the world’s most famous artists have detractors who dislike their music. It’s inevitable. If you accept that, you can continue exploring your art with courage and without fear of criticism.
Instead of listening to criticism, focus on the positive aspects of your work. Even the most self-critical musicians recognise their worth and their accomplishments. Being proud (but not arrogant) of your efforts and accomplishments can boost self-esteem and feelings of gratification. You’ll be reminded of the joy you have with music if you focus on the positives rather than the comparisons, self-doubts, or stresses. You have the potential to make yourself and others happy — whether you are performing, writing, or rehearsing.
Once you conquer self-doubt and have won the battle for your mind, you can truly own your music career and change or improve any aspect of your life. The best part? You can start this journey with CommonTime! Our platform offers high-quality, accessible learning opportunities in music, dance, theatre, and visual arts that will help overcome your self-doubt and boost your self-confidence as an artist.
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