5 Ways To Improve Your Self Confidence As A Musician
Written by Mirabai Jyothi Kukathas
They say write what you know, but here I am doing quite the opposite. One of the biggest reasons I don’t write music or perform that often is that I lack the self confidence. When I sit down to write I hear a voice telling me not to bother. Every performance I’ve been a part of has been preceded by intense stage fright. So why am I, a person with very little self esteem, especially in regards to music, giving you tips on becoming more confident? Well, because my boss told me to. No, I’m just kidding; it’s because I’ve been working to become more confident and know first hand what’s helpful and what's complete nonsense. Now, you might be thinking, but Mirabai, unlike you, I am not a nervous wreck, to which I say, good for you but everyone gets nervous, especially preforming artists. I think it's really important to keep the following things in mind, so without further ado… HOW NOT TO BE A NERVOUS WRECK, written by a nervous wreck because primary sources are important.
Be kind to yourself. Usually people save the most important piece of advice until the end of the list, but I’m going to put it first on the off chance you get bored and stop reading to go watch a cat video or make some toast or something. Recently, I was asked how I'd want a friend to react if I was experiencing anxiety before a performance, or even just in every day life. I said that I'd appreciate kindness and honesty. I realized a lot of people would say the same, but I was not treating myself with those qualities and often neither do others. . It’s easy to treat your loved ones with kindness or to crave kindness from them, but most people are far less willing to be easily excited, forgiving, or appreciative when it comes to themselves. So, be kind to yourself because you are pretty damn awesome.
Practice. This one’s pretty short, sweet, and obvious but it works: if you practice something you feel self conscious about, you will improve. If you improve, you will become less self conscious abut it. This is especially true in regards to music. You’ve probably noticed that you feel more at ease performing a song you’ve practiced a million times or that writing a song is a less daunting task if you’ve done it before. Practice makes perfect.
Learn that it’s okay to be only or less than okay. Okay, I lied: Practice doesn't make perfect. There is no such thing as perfect, yet most humans expect themselves to somehow achieve this delusional aspect. A lot of self consciousness derives from the idea that you should be flawless at whatever you’re doing. We have these crazy expectations of ourselves, and when they aren’t met we get upset. I recently wrote a song which for some reason I decided had to be fantastic. When I felt that it wasn’t, I got really down on myself. The song was, in all honesty, pretty bad, but looking back on it with kindness (see no.1) I’ve decided that’s perfectly okay.
Surround yourself with supportive people. I understand that this isn’t always an option, but when it is, it’s insanely helpful. I assume that at at least one point in your life you have been around people who have put you down; who have made you feel less than. It really sucks. That’s why having a community of people who lift you up and vocalize the best parts of you is really amazing. It makes you want to make music and share it with your community. For me, Totem Star is that community. That's why the power of collaboration is so strong. You and your collaborators can teach each other and build yourselves up. I know it can sometimes feel like other people are able to create musical magic out of thin air, but they aren't and you'll see that through working together. So go write something with your friends.
Celebrate the little victories. You wrote a song? It wasn’t very good? I have no idea what that must feel like, but congratulations! You wrote a song, that’s impressive, I’m proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself! You can always push yourself to make it better or you can write a new song that resonates with you more or perform something that showcases your talents and views more coherently, but always be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Big victories always begin with the little ones.
Here are a couple links if you want to read more on the subject.
How Much Does Confidence Affect Musical Ability? by Anthony Cerullo from Sonicbids
Becoming a Confident Performer by Gerald Klickstein from Musicians Way