The Fear of Music Five factors which can stop you from enjoying your music

Posted by on Dec 25, 2016 in Learn Music | 358 comments

Those who come to me for lessons, whether they are professional, experienced musicians or beginners, have one thing in common.  They all have a part of their personality which tries to stop them enjoying music.  I call this part the Inner Critic.  Others call it the Ego but, call it what you will, I’m sure you know what I am talking about.

I would say that 90% of my work as a teacher is helping people to overcome this negative voice within and I feel that the musicians who have the hardest time with it are the singers.

In this article I would like to talk about some of the contributing factors which may be getting in the way of you enjoying your music.

These are:

1.      Expectations of Learning

Many people expect learning music to be 1) an incremental process and 2) to happen quickly.  I’m afraid that neither of these assumptions are true and if you are aware of this, you can have more fun learning music.  It is worth remembering that expectations which aren’t realistic can put unwarranted pressure on your learning.  Reading the article “A Decision” and listening to the interview with John Crawford will help you to understand what learning music entails.

2.       Fear of Taking up Space

When singers come to me for lessons, the first thing I do is make them sing long notes in a loud chest voice.  This is a very difficult thing for many of them and I believe it comes down to a fear, which is often unconscious, of being seen or heard and we will talk about this.

When we work on being loud and using what I describe as the “ugly” voice (although in reality this is not the case but it helps people to relax people so they can sing authentically), singers can begin to get in touch with what they really sound like and feel who they really are.  Then they begin to enjoy music instead of pressuring themselves to try to sound “pretty” or “acceptable”.

We all have to work with our unique sound and not be scared of being heard, if we are to make any music worth hearing.

3.       Competition

The concept of ‘competition’ is sure to put a stop to any authentic and enjoyable music making.  Often, as Michael Brown clearly states in his interview, the competitive aspect of music, which can make you feel very down and, at its worst put a complete stop to your practice, comes from within you.

It is vital to know that there is no-one in the world like you, therefore, you cannot compete with anyone, nor they with you.   The only thing you can offer to music is to be 100% yourself, to be authentic, to make your music from the truest part of yourself.  This means being calm, present, being patient and learning not to give your energy to the Critic.

4.       Making Money

The pressure of having to play music to make money to survive is immense and can definitely take the enjoyment away from playing.

Most of the musicians who survive solely on gigs need to have very good hustling and business skills.  It is a tiresome job having to find work all the time and often these musicians find themselves doing gigs they don’t enjoy which can be very demoralising.

I would always recommend that, in order to keep enjoying your music, you don’t rely solely on your performance and you have another source of income like getting into a Band for hire.

I now teach, as many other musicians do, but I used to do temp secretarial work, which gave me great skills to market my music.  I also believe that any other work you do will, in some way, help your music progress.   Even if you can’t see the connection now, you will be sure to realise it further down the track

5.       Fear of taking Risks

Lastly, being a musician means you will have to take risks.  However, I believe if you are to enjoy anything in life it does mean taking risks.  Often it is only the fear connected with doing something new that needs to be overcome.

Lastly, remember:

You will make mistakes – you are supposed to.

You will come up against your Critic – which will only make you stronger and help you to get to know yourself.

You will struggle at times – and gain confidence when you overcome these difficulties.

There is only positiveness and pleasure to be gained by overcoming any fears you have connected with your music.

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