Let’s break down ability and confidence.
Photograph Compliments Of Alena Jarret
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Table of contents
- Perceptions Of Abilty And Confidence
- A Closer Look At Ability And Confidence
- Reinforcing Ability And Confidence
- Developing Ability And Confidence
Let’s define ability: Ability represents capability and capacity. There is power, command, and proficiency in your physical and mental energies implementing authority over your instrument.
Your talents are what you have attained; you have achieved these skills. Those abilities reflect what you have learned to do in the past. These are representations of what you can execute.
What is confidence? Let us look especially at self-confidence; this embraces assurance and certainty. There is the conviction of belief, with faith and trust in yourself. These are the foundations of who you are as an accomplished artist.
Here are some examples:
I can carry the groove.
My improvisation skills are intuitive.
There is incredible joy in my playing.
Passion and love exemplify who I am.
The opportunities in my life complete the embodiment of my soul. Oops, sorry to get metaphysical on you; however, there is truth in that statement.
Your trust in your ability and confidence can be both positive and negative. Positive belief means you feel confident in the projection of your abilities. Having a negative perception of your capacities means you are uncomfortable and unsatisfied with how you perform.
Perceptions Of Abilty And Confidence
Photograph Compliments of Mathilda Khoo
Examine your ability and confidence. Look at each component of your skill set and examine it every day. Let your feelings and beliefs in your abilities reveal themselves. When you practice this exercise, you will have daily revelations of where you are lacking in your capabilities. Learn how to let your preconceived beliefs in your abilities come out. This exercise aims to correct the areas of performance you are lacking and reinforce those in which you excel.
Our past experiences have laid the foundation of our overall confidence. There are day-to-day experiences that influence how we think about ourselves. These thoughts contribute to faith in our capabilities or lack thereof.
How was that last gig?
Were you critical of your previous recording session?
Did your collaborators approve of your tracks?
Separating the subjective from the objective is difficult. There are myriads of examples.
Spend time examining who you are as a player. Introspection is a sure path to understanding your skill-set’s positive and negative components. The goal is to help yourself gain a better understanding of the way you see yourself.
A Closer Look At Ability And Confidence
We have discussed the self-perception of our abilities; let’s take a closer look at that.
It is a natural human tendency to believe we have a higher degree of ability than is possessed; that child-like confidence lets us assume we can jump off the roof and not hurt ourselves. Then we hit the lawn and face reality. Once you begin to understand the limits of your capabilities, feelings of positive and negative emotions may start to encroach on your thought process. These introspective and reflective triggers differ from person to person.
Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself to identify catalysts that affect your self-confidence:
When you are recording, are you preoccupied with every single note as opposed to the flow of your performance?
Are you concerned about the way others are perceiving your playing and performance?
While you are practicing, what thoughts come to your mind?
How do you take compliments regarding your playing?
When you are listening to someones else’s track, are you comparing your abilities to theirs?
Are you concerned about your performance when you feel deep in the groove?
Continuing to practice mindfulness (being present in the moment) is a great way to become cognizant of the circumstances that cause you to feel confident or self-conscious about your performance.
Engaging all of your senses can help you identify your triggers and uncover the reasons why you are feeling the way you do. Often these triggers are not related to your performance at all.
For example, you are at a rehearsal and feeling flat. Being mindful in this moment and engaging all your senses can help you recognize that you are not flat and help you discover why you’re feeling this way.
Perhaps this thought stems from how your day has so far unfolded. Then there are the considerations of challenges you are facing in life. More than likely, it is not that you are off; it’s that you feel you are off.
How Are You Feeling About Your Ability And Confidence?
Photograph Compliments of Sydney Rae
Changing how you feel about your playing is a step toward moving to awareness.
It is highly challenging to increase our awareness and mindfulness non-judgmentally. We are our own worst critics. Falling into self-doubt is natural; the path to imposter syndrome.
Do you execute at different level during private rehearsal as opposed to playing live?
Here are some examples of why you might feel differently playing in front of a live audience or during recording:
You may feel you are under judgment. It can be challenging knowing that all eyes and ears are focused on you, and everyone is staring at you from the control booth.
Maybe playing live in front of people makes you nervous.
Criticizing and critiquing yourself while playing is a distraction; whether you consider your performance adequate or not, you are not being mindful of where you are.
Whether you are highly dissatisfied with your playing or struggle with occasional negative thoughts, these musings can detract from your confidence and spill over into other areas of your life.
How do you develop more self-confidence?
It might be that not only do your abilities need to improve, but you might also need to change your thoughts.
Reinforcing Ability And Confidence
In my journey in music, there are times when I have had to confront who I am as a player.
Taking A Step Back
Self-criticism has affected my performance as a player in more than one situation. There is no one else who criticizes me more than myself. I pick apart my flaws, whether real or perceived, regularly. Often, in musical collaborations, I have allowed the opinions of others to dictate the worth of my merits.
The negative thoughts you have about your playing, whether true or not, can be a type of thought distortion. When doubt creeps in, plan to use counter-views. For example, you may believe another musician is more competent than you. A different way to think is to say to yourself, “This person plays differently than me.” As you develop higher degrees of execution, this statement will become more and more truthful.
You might face the gig with some trepidation, feeling your playing will reveal your flaws. Ask yourself, “is anyone perfect?” You know the answer. Did perceive another musician’s performance as perfect? Ask that person, and I’m sure they can tell you how their execution could have been better.
Focus Your Thoughts Inward
When you find yourself self-critical and basing your self-worth on your abilities, shift your focus. You are unique and can execute differently than others. You have positive attributes; your voice and personality come out in your playing.
Make A List
You have skills; make a list of your skill set. It won’t hurt to read those aptitudes out loud daily to yourself. They become affirmations of what you can do and who you are.
Iron sharpens iron – move from strength to strength. You want to become more proficient as a player. Please take note of your weaknesses and challenges; address them daily.
prioritize Balancing Your thoughts
For every thought you have regarding self-doubt and self-criticism, reinforce your strengths. Every day you have accomplished something that moves you forward; acknowledge what you have done. Even the most minor achievement is still an achievement. One step closer, that’s all you need.
Developing Ability And Confidence
Photograph Compliments Of Miguel Bruna
Ask yourself: who and what do you want to become? These are crucial questions; essential to establishing yourself. What are you willing to commit to? Consider your allocation of time, resources, associations, and finances. What habits, disciplines, and skill sets will you need to be proficient at to attain mastery in your field?
The goal is to become a better version of yourself. Becoming better is a complicated workaround. You are going to encounter obstacles, those that are external and internal.
The internet provides excellent examples of people who have gone before you. Learn from their successes.
If you are genuinely committed to this thing: practice. Perfect practice makes perfect.
You can only realize your desires by digging deep and hard. Reinforce the basics, and reach for the abstract. The foundations of abstract concepts are fundamental structures. You must understand the simple ideas before moving to the more complex. Understanding deeply conceptual ideas creates a buttress for the simplistic.
Yes, it is a full circle. Directness is key.
In music, most of our audiences want the straightforward. The more intricate your understanding, the more accurate your delivery of the simplistic.
Want an example? Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. A drummer whose roots were in Jazz, but powering one of the best ever rock bands. Need I say more?
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