Facing Challenges as a Musician Resource

Wouldn't it be nice if everything naturally came easy to us? Imagine if we said we wanted a college degree and we got it without having to go to school. How great would that be? Well, not really. If everything always came easy to us we would never appreciate receiving anything, or would not really enjoy reaping the benefits of it. We must understand two components. First, life is full of challenges. Whether we're in our personal or professional lives, we will always face challenges. This can be in a marriage, deciding what college to attend, or facing a challenge with your business. Second, we must understand that whether we like it or not, challenges are imminent. In other words, it is a guarantee that we'll face them. Since we know this, it's not what kind of challenge comes to us or how big they are. It is rather how we respond to these challenges. Did we respond to them with character and integrity? Did we learn from our mistakes? How will the challenge help us grow? These are questions we need to ask ourselves when we face a certain challenge. More specifically, we need to apply these questions when facing a challenge while playing our musical instrument. Unfortunately, many students quit playing their instrument because of the challenges they face. Despite their potential and talent, they failed because they did not know how to respond to their challenge. They had the skill, but did not have the will. In this handout, we will go over the importance of challenges, how you can deal with them, and how they will help you take your skills to the next level.

Can challenges really help me? I become so frustrated when I can't play something!

Anger and frustration are indeed two emotions we go through when we practice our instrument. There have been several times in my own personal practicing when I wanted to throw the drum sticks across the room, shout out loud, or even worse, break a drum! Anger and frustration were emotions I frequently went through in my early years of playing the drums. Looking back, though, I realized that the challenges I went through only helped me. They helped me learn how to play patterns I once thought I could never do. We must understand that challenges are inevitable. The question is how are you going to respond to them? When we always become discouraged and angry, our emotions will control our focus and skill. Thus, this will prevent us from going forward. However, when we learn to embrace our challenges, this will open up a world of new ideas. Your determination and your level of confidence will increase. As a result of this, your skill on the instrument will improve. Challenges are also very important, because they will get us out of our comfort zone. It's always good to perfect your skills and review material you already know. If your practicing time only consists of this, though, you will become bored and never grow. The only way we can get out of our comfort zone is by challenging ourselves with something out of the ordinary. Lastly, challenges are all about building momentum. The more we conquer simple challenges, the more fuel and motivation we will have to conquer difficult challenges. It is like preparing to run for a marathon. Every day, you increase your running time to build up stamina. Although it's a challenge, you build motivation as you get one step closer to the marathon.

I sometimes get so frustrated when I can't play something. How can I better deal with my anger and emotions on my instrument?

First, you're not alone. We all become frustrated when we don't understand something. Some of the world's top musicians have even become frustrated! Remember – it's not what happens to us, it's how we respond to it. The worst thing you can do is to give in to your emotions. When you do this, you become angrier. Anger will always distract you from understanding your material, because you're focusing on the problem and not the solution. If you find yourself becoming upset or angry, there are a few things you can do. First, walk away from your instrument. Take a 15 minute break. Eat a snack. Play some basketball. The goal is to do something totally different from your instrument. When you do this, you shift your mind/focus on something different, which will help you alleviate the stress and anger from your instrument. When you resume back to your instrument, you will have regained composure and renewed energy. Another way you can eliminate your anger is to play something on your instrument you already excel at. This will boost your confidence level to play the concept you were struggling with. Learning something is all about building momentum. When we can play concepts on our instrument we're already familiar with, this will help boost our momentum, confidence, and enthusiasm while learning challenging concepts. You can also use humor to reduce anger and frustration. Humor is a great way to break the ice in a conversation or presentation. Moreover, people will feel comfortable with a presenter using humor to engage his/her audience. Filling your mind with something humorous is a nice way to alleviate stress or anger on your instrument. For example, you can think of something funny, turn on a humorous T.V. show, or contact one of your upbeat friends who make you laugh. You will be surprised at how much this helps. Finally, take it one step at a time. If a beat seems too complicated, focus on developing one limb per day. You must have realistic expectations. The world's top musicians seldom mastered something in a day. It took days of patience, practice, and perseverance. Don't be hard on yourself.

Should I be content if I'm not facing any challenges?

Contentment is something we should all strive for in our lives. One of my favorite verses in Scripture says, "Contentment and Godliness equals great gain" (-1 Timothy 6:6). We should be content with the gift that God has given us. However, we should not be content if we're not making any effort to grow on our instrument. Our playing becomes dry, monotonous, and uncreative. Remember – the best way to excel at your instrument is to challenge yourself. If you feel like you are not feeling challenged with what you already can play, work on a new concept on your instrument you are not familiar with every week. You can do this in your music lessons, go to the library, and rent books and CDs of different methods and styles that will help propel new ideas for you. Not only will this challenge you, but it will greatly enhance your skills and bring a new revival to your playing. While this will help increase your contentment and skill at your instrument, it is just as important to give yourself a break and time to rest. You will feel refreshed, recharged, and have time to reflect and correct any areas of improvement in your playing. These are the keys in achieving contentment in your playing, while also challenging yourself.

Conclusion

Challenges are going to be inevitable when playing your instrument. In fact, failure is an absolute must in succeeding. If you're not failing, you're not moving forward. As we discussed, there are many benefits in encountering challenges. We become more mature and persistent, and challenges open doors of new opportunities and creativity. If it wasn't for facing challenges, we would never grow and develop to be a well-rounded musician. Keeping this in mind, use anticipatory preparation. In other words, prepare in advance that you're going to encounter many stumbling blocks. This will help you develop a positive mental attitude, which is essential to have when facing challenges. Further, this will help you be mentally prepared for challenges so you will know how to respond positively to them before they happen, rather than react negatively to them when they already happened. Press on and embrace your challenges. Your hard word will always pay off! "All hard work brings a profit, but more talk leads only to poverty" (–Proverbs 14:23).

 

 

Testimonials

"I found this place via the internet looking for drum lessons for my son who is 8 yrs old.  When I spoke to Chris his enthusiasm for teaching and music was obvious.  Every time I see him that never changes.  

He choose Alex to teach my son and he loves going there and learning from him,  Alex is great with him.  I can easy see that Alex really enjoys teaching.  It not just a job to him.  The two seem to have fun working together and feed off each other.  To me as a parent that is the most important thing.  He inspires him to want to learn and have fun,  He is a very good teacher and is open to ideas and willing to try whatever methods he feels works best.  That is the sign of a really good teacher.

If you or someone you know wants to learn an instrument, I would highly recommend giving them a try.  You will not be disappointed.

Good value for the money. Very reasonable."

-Glenn Barr (Review from Yelp)