Why do other players seem to get better faster than I do? Part 1

ahead of the pack e1317589253486 Why do other players seem to get better faster than I do? Part 1Have you ever known that player who everything just seems to fall into place for? They get better and better at a seemingly breakneck speed and they leave everyone else in the dust. Well, I certainly knew a lot of people like that when I was at Berklee. It used to drive me frickin’ crazy. I felt like I was working hard as hell, but just spinning my wheels.

And that’s precisely what prompted me to try figure out why. Why do they learn and improve so fast? What do they do differently? Could I do the same things and achieve the same results? Or were those guys just simply more talented or luckier?

For the last 9 years since I got out of Berklee I’ve worked to figure that out. To crack the code so to speak. Over the course of that time it became very clear to me that talent played a very minor role in the success of a jazz musician. Sure you need to have at least a basic affinity for music. But if you are truly moved by music, you love it and you ‘get it’ when you listen to it, then you probably have all the talent you need to go as far with music as you wish.

I also realized that luck has basically nothing to do with success. But I did start to notice some patterns. I began to realize the things that they did differently than all the other jazz musicians at Berklee. As I applied these concepts and habits to my own practicing I began to get the results I wanted.

Just remember this: If you do the things that other successful people have done, eventually you will get the same results.

Self-concept—Now, I did touch on this in a previous lesson. But since I know that self-concept is EVERYTHING, I’m gonna go into it a bit more. Self-concept is basically your own understanding and definition of your self. It’s the way you perceive yourself. All of your beliefs about yourself are determined by your self-concept: beliefs about what you and are and are not capable of, beliefs about what you are and are not worthy of in life.

This is powerful stuff. These beliefs affect every aspect of your life. It’s all-important to achieving anything in life—from badass jazz skills to a satisfying relationship to a desirable income to a healthy body. Your self-concept will determine the choices you make, the actions you take, the people you meet and even the level of concentration you are able to bring to the practice room.

With a strong self-concept you will take the risks and chances necessary to move forward with music. You will make mistakes, fall down and experience failures. But you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from the experience and move on. In fact people with strong self-concepts and confidence recognize that mistakes and failures are a necessary part of the process. They learn to embrace them.

So how does this apply to playing jazz? Simple, you must believe in your core that you CAN become the kind of player you want—that you CAN achieve the success with music that you want.

Writer Napoleon Hill once wrote: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

All right, I’m gonna show you how much of a nerd I actually am. Let’s talk about your brain for a second. Every belief you have, every habit you have and in fact your entire self-concept is literally wired into your brain, in the form of neural connections. Over the years all of your thoughts, experiences and emotions have been building up and creating an extremely complex web of interconnected and integrated neural connections. And a negative self-concept, as abstract of a concept as that is, literally exists physically in your brain. It’s all in the connections.

You might be saying now, “Great Chris, that sucks. Thanks for telling me that self-doubt and fear is wired into my brain. I might as well just quit playing.” Not so fast…There is a concept in neuroscience called The Plasticity of the Brain. This simply means that the brain is changeable. In fact it’s changing whether we like it or not. Every thought we have, every emotion we experience literally creates new connections. Every time you say to yourself, “I’m not good enough, or I’ll never be that good, or I just don’t have what that player has”, you change your brain. And the more we repeat these thoughts and emotions the stronger and more plentiful the connections become. Until eventually they become habits.

But these habits are breakable. All you need to do is create new, positive habits to take their place. We can do this by first observing the way we speak to ourselves. Is our inner dialog positive and confident? Or is it negative and self-defeating. Once you begin to develop an awareness of this dialog you can begin to overwrite it, by catching yourself in the moment and literally replacing the thought with a more positive one.

thinkinghead e1317589520989 Why do other players seem to get better faster than I do? Part 1You become what you think about most of the time. Pay attention to your thoughts. Your thoughts determine where you get in life. Think about what you want to achieve, how you’ll benefit by achieving it and how you will get there. Practice visualization, keep a journal, write and rewrite your goals every day. Write down why you will benefit from achieving your goals and what steps you can take to get there. Do these things religiously day in and day out. Over time you will literally be reprogramming your brain. After a few weeks this stuff will begin to manifest in your life. You will begin to feel different, think different and as result you will act and be different. And your music will show it.

>>>Part 2

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