Submitted by: Daniel E. Friedman
Don t you get it? What the heck is wrong with you?
I can t tell you how many times I ve heard students and even professionals say similar quotes to themselves in a moment of frustration. Here are some more gems:
I can t believe I mucked that up. I m so dumb.
Come on you idiot CONCENTRATE!
Oh, that s just great. I m playing like a complete moron.
AHHHH Stupid, stupid, stupid
The funny thing is that beating oneself up seems perfectly acceptable to some. However, can you imagine the ramifications if a teacher said the last above quote to a student? They would either be dismissed immediately or be given a swift and stern reprimand.
So what s the harm in putting yourself down as a means of creating motivation? Undoubtedly it could be quite effective for some types of personalities. In fact, in desperate circumstances, when you have to react to a possible life or death event, this tactic may be absolutely necessary.
Imagine, for example, that you ve begun crossing a busy intersection without looking both ways, and an eighteen wheeler almost crashes into you. Here are some comments that the trucker might give you in a moment of heated emotion:
You idiot watch where you re going!
Grow some eyes, you imbecile!
Although these comments are hurtful, they offer the shaken pedestrian plenty of room for reflection. Maybe I should be more careful. I almost got killed , would probably be one of the first thoughts that a shaken individual in that circumstance would reflect upon. That s a good thing!
Here s the catch. Piano lessons and piano practice are not life threatening. To my knowledge, they never have been. If your lessons are, then please switch teachers. Last I heard, teachers are not customarily swearing at students during scale practice, ready to beat them with nun chucks at the first sign of a wrong note.
Here are some self-motivating comments that will make you feel good about yourself:
Come on. You can do better.
Slow down. Let s take things one at a time.
Take a deep breath and be patient. This is a long process.
Hey, I may be having a bad day, but I m better than I was last week!
Say to yourself what you think a good teacher would say to you. You ll find your progress in music will increase tenfold. You will not be easily prone to temper tantrums and you ll be far less likely to obtain the dreaded byproduct of too much stress a big, ugly MUSIC ULCER.
As a final thought, piano teachers (or any teacher) that repeatedly criticizes wrong notes, having a bad day, or poorly thought out musical interpretations in a negative and vicious way should be abandoned immediately. Positive criticism for a musician or any artist (especially students) is imperative.
It is highly difficult to be expressive and creative with a battered ego and an inferiority complex. Unfortunately, these are two very probable byproducts of negative criticism and verbal abuse. If your emotional expressiveness on an instrument is derived from your life experience, then you must be positive in order to give the best of yourself.
Life is difficult enough. If an artist must feel all emotions, then there s plenty of suffering and pain out there for an artist to draw upon. However, in your own privacy, create balance and harmony. Be your own best friend.
Have a happy, healthy musical day.
About the Author: Come and join Daniel E. Friedman at
for assistance in music education and comprehension.