7. I’m not that talented.
In my experience, most musicians I met have enough talent to do what they want to do musically (There are a few exceptions: classical orchestral pianist comes to mind). The problem is we have a hard time seeing the talent in ourselves, yet easily recognize it in others.
The challenge for me as musician is to put aside the question of talent altogether, and focus on using what I have to maximum capacity. I can’t change my talent level. I can change my work ethic.
6. I don’t need to work as hard as everybody else in this band/club/worship group/etc because of my talent.
I used to be involved with a group of amateur musicians. We had a lot of hard working, dedicated people that spent time each week learning the music. Except for one singer. He’d show up each week completely unrehearsed, fumble through practice, and then pull it together with raw talent right before the show.
He thought he was doing his job because he had his stuff together by show time. What he didn’t realize was the huge amount of work and stress he put the rest of the group through trying to compensate for him during practice.
Regardless of my talent, I should put in enough effort to push myself to a personal best in every job I do.
5. I’m the only one that cares.
Apathy in bands is usually an illusion. If you have taken the years of time needed to learn an instrument, then agreed to play long hours for little pay, it usually weeds out the people that don’t care about music from taking the stage.
When I’m struggling with this feeling, I try to reach out to people in the group and explain the vision I have for what the group could be. Often this is where the illusion begins to break down. As we've talked, I’ve never had an instance where the other members didn’t have dreams of where they’d like to see the group going. We usually leave these kinds of meetings fired up, and excited about the future.
4. Everybody is paying attention to everything I do.
To bust this myth all I have to do is look at my own experience. What do I remember about my band members at the last gig we played together? Do I remember anything about what they played?
I have to confess that there are several gigs I’ve played in the last two months where the only thing I can remember was that the band sounded “good”. Oh yeah, and that drummer smiled at me half way through the show.
This is how most people experience you during a gig. That doesn’t mean the pressure’s off. It just means that we can relax and focus on doing our best with the right attitude.
3. No one appreciates me.
This question masks a much more intriguing question. “what would change if everybody did appreciate me?”
Would my playing become better? Would my enjoyment of music increase? Would I suddenly become more passionate about my job? Hopefully not. Usually when we say this, we’re looking for the approval of our friends to boost our ego.
My guess is the people around me value my musicianship very much. But even if they don’t, my outlook, self confidence, and work ethic should remain unchanged.
2. I’m the only one going through this.
This is another deceptive partial truth. No one on earth is going through exactly what I’m going through. But thousands of people have felt the same emotions, wrestled with the same questions, and faced the same gut-wrenching decisions as I have.
Reaching out to musicians with greater life experience is important for those of us that struggle with the feeling of being alone. It quickly helps us put things into perspective, and figure out the path ahead.
1. No one believes in me.
While most people may not support you in a tangible way, they probably believe in you and your dream, even if they think its unlikely to happen (let’s face it: music careers are crap shoots, after all).
Regardless of whether they understand the details, most people will understand that you’re (hopefully) a hard working, nice person that’s doing the best they can to chase their dreams. And that generally makes people pull for you, even if it's only in a passive way.