Confident Musicians Don’t Hope

Confidence—strong belief in our abilities—is something that performing musicians either have or crave.   Confidence is a key mental skill in the performer’s arsenal.   Performers need confidence to combat music performance anxiety and achieve peak performances.  Confidence can come from a variety of sources including past practices or rehearsals and immediate past performances, but ultimately, believing in yourself and your abilities is a choice.  Confident performers choose to be confident.  They exert control over their thoughts and beliefs.  Creating a confident mindset is the result of learning and using effective habits of thinking and visualizing successful performing.

The following stages of a growing belief in one’s ability may sound familiar to you:

  • “I hope I can play/sing this phrase…”
  • “Maybe I can play/sing this phrase…”
  • “I think I can play/sing this phrase…”
  • “I believe I can play/sing this phrase…”
  • “I know I can play/sing this phrase…”
  • “I will play/sing this phrase…”

When considering these stages, it is important to recognize that confidence and hope are not the same thing.  How many times have you said, “I hope I can get through this recital.” or “I think I can play or sing well today.” ?  Just as hoping does not indicate confidence,  maybe and I think do not indicate a strong belief in performing ability either.   As with any belief, we make a conscious decision to believe in our capabilities or not.  A musician who strongly believes in her skills and performing ability is not one who hopes, but is one who knows she will perform well.

It seems reasonable that if one is skillful and is a good performer, he or she will be confident, but there are many good performers who struggle with believing that they are good enough.  Remember that confidence precedes performance in the form of a decision–a choice.  Deciding to think, feel, and act confidently will supplement your musical practice and experience.   Believing in yourself and your performing ability will help you prepare for your performances.  As Dr. Bill Moore states in his book, Playing Your Best When It Counts,

“Confidence, like other beliefs, is formed by your imagination and interpretation of events.  What you imagine before an upcoming performance affects how you feel about it….  Additionally, the images you choose to recall following a performance provide a powerful source of information you store in memory and use to draw conclusions about your future capabilities.  Confident performers choose to visualize in ways that create feelings of certainty rather than doubt.”

It is my hope that you will give up hoping that you can perform well, and decide to believe strongly in your abilities, visualize the power of your performing,  and trust your practice and training as you enter the stage.  If you would like to assess the strength of your belief in your abilities, download a Confidence Self-Test or contact me to talk about peak performance coaching.

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