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#150: Practice Positivity: How to Combat Your Worst Critic

music and meaning Apr 01, 2024

This podcast episode goes live on April Fool’s Day, and I probably couldn’t have picked a more appropriate day to release it. I didn’t do it on purpose, but today’s topic lines up very nicely with April Fool's. It’s about the fool’s game of self-criticism.

I think the most dangerous pitfall for harpists, or for any musician, doesn’t have to do with performance nerves or losing your place or not having a strong technique or being able to sight read. I think it is being overly or inappropriately critical of our efforts. 

Now before you say that you are skilled at keeping your perspective and you don’t let your drive to achieve lead to frustration, I want you to stop and really think. I run across harpists every day, every time I teach a webinar or an intensive, who describe themselves as perfectionists. Most of these harpists know that their perfectionism is slowing them down, possibly even preventing them from enjoying their playing or sharing it with others. Maybe that sounds familiar to you.

Other harpists get caught up in the “shoulds;” I should be playing this piece or working on these skills. Maybe that much is  true, but when they start telling themselves they should be better than they are by now, they’ve started down the slippery slope.

Even if this kind of negativity isn’t a regular part of your harp life, it still may show up from time to time and cause you to doubt your skills, your musicality or even if you should keep playing the harp at all. Obviously, that’s not a good thing.

So today, I’m going to discuss self-criticism, how it shows up in our practice and our playing. No more fool’s game, playing around with criticism and calling it “constructive.” We will reframe the way you talk to yourself so you can keep the negativity at bay. Plus, I will give you some strategies that will help you combat it so you can keep your outlook growth-oriented and positive, even when things aren’t going the way you want.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions and suggestions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected] 


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