SELF-CARE for MUSICIANS…. 10 Ways To Love Yourself
Most if not all amateur musicians struggle with self-love. It makes quite a difference to your experience of being a musician. If you can gradually bring in these 10 Tips to your practise and playing, over time you will notice a big difference. How you feel about yourself and your music is likely to improve a lot!!
So, how do we bring lots of love into the music room and enjoy better music practise and playing?
- Stop criticising. Stop telling yourself that you’ll never get it right or you always play the wrong note there. Instead, be your own best friend or ‘channel’ the words of the wise teacher you’d love to have. Tell yourself something constructive. Start noticing where you’ve improved or made progress. Appreciate the effort you have already put in, and how far you’ve come. Encourage yourself.
- Stop Scaring Yourself. If you assume that a new piece is going to be difficult before you’ve even begun, guess what it probably will be. Some music looks rather black and scary when it is actually not so bad to play, after all. It’s all in how the music is printed and the amount of space on the page. Have a closer look, and look for what you CAN do, rather than focussing on what you can’t. What would a healthy perspective be on your playing? Avoid comparing yourself in a way that makes you always come off second best. Focus on your own goals and individuality.
- Be patient. Long fuse or short fuse, whatever it is, we all need strategies to manage our feelings. Being patient and able to stick with it when the going gets tough can be a decider of success anywhere in life. There are effective strategies for managing our frustration. Are you expecting too much of yourself? Are your practise habits maximising outcome for effort put in? Are you aware that it takes about 10,000 hrs to reach true mastery of worthwhile skills like playing a musical instrument? Not everyone wants to reach full mastery though. What level of musical mastery do you want? Make sure to enjoy playing along the way while you build your skill. Include playing for your own pleasure often.
- Be Kind To Your Mind. Yes, these days we have access to so much information that for the first time in history, most of us need to be mindful of how much stress we place on our brain. It could be that your mental fatigue shows up in the music practise room. Have you overloaded yourself mentally? Perhaps some technology free time might help restore the balance
- Know yourself. I don’t advocate empty praise. Instead I like to think of building up knowledge of ourselves and celebrating our achievements. If you’ve put in a big effort (for you) and it deserves acknowledgement, then acknowledge it to yourself. Other people don’t always appreciate what you’ve achieved. Be your own best friend. ‘Channel’ the acknowledgement you’d like to receive from a music teacher who understands the effort you’ve put in and what you’ve achieved
- Be supportive. Are you allowing yourself to have new music regularly? Whether you have easy cash flow or a tighter budget, it is possible to access a wide range of music to suit any budget. Do you own the best instrument you can afford? Do you love the sound of your instrument? How you feel about your musical instrument, and how you refer to it, is an extension of loving yourself. It is a kind of extension of your own body. We sing with our voice. When we play another external instrument, it becomes our voice into the world. Would you like support from a local music teacher? In allowing yourself to be supported, you are also being very loving to yourself. Regular music lessons with a supportive teacher offers much more for your life than merely how to play the musical instrument. Have a look at the room you practise in. Does it feel good to be in there? Is there fresh air? Is there natural light during the day and a natural light lamp for night time? Do you have what you need in there, set up for easy access? Do you feel safe and secure? Is there a happy picture on the wall of you playing?
- Love your negatives. There are some stereotypes in the musical world as there are in any endeavour. When playing the piano, it could be said that you must have long fingers. Yes well, if you are playing the standard size piano keys, then long fingers are what they are designed for. If you don’t have long fingers then you’ll always struggle to play certain music. Some people say “well I can’t play the piano because I don’t have the right fingers” or “I’ll never be any good because I don’t have long fingers”. Instead, could you say “well I love the piano and I want to play. I accept that I will struggle with playing piano concerti and certain music. I can though, still play a lot of music and be very happy with that”. Most music can be adapted / arranged for a small hand. Also, pianos are now available in various key sizes. There will be one to suit your hand size. Good news! With one of those you might be able to play anything in time!
- Take Care of Your Body. Playing an instrument that is appropriate for your body size and build is important. Tune in with your body and listen for how it is feeling and honour it’s tension with rest or stretching or balancing exercises and yoga. There is a lot of help available for musicians to care for their body and enjoy playing for a very long time. It is quite possible for piano players to continue until after age 100yrs. Alice Herz-Sommer is an example. There is a wonderful documentary about her on YouTube. The Lady In Number Six
- I Love You. Before you begin playing or practising. Take a moment to connect with your instrument. Say to yourself (about the instrument) “I love you. Thank you for all the joy and pleasure we have enjoyed all these years.” If you’re having a trying practise session, it might be time to take a little break. Still say to your instrument “I love you anyway”. Try it, it’s like magic! Remember your piano or flute or whatever you play, is an extension of you.
- Now. When is the time to begin all this? Now. Do it now. One at a time, build the habit.
Written by Pamela Jordan who works for Purple Tempo in Mona Vale, Sydney. She is available for Consultations by appointment. www.PurpleTempo.com.au