I know it sounds ridiculous that every music student’s success should come down to one thing. How could that be possible? There’s tons of different instruments, musical styles, and levels of achievement.
I promise, this isn’t some trick:I’ve seen a lot of teachers and a lot of students. I’ve learned from a lot of people who have seen many more teachers and students than I have, and really, being successful in music comes down to one thing: trust.
The music student’s secret to success is simply trust.
I’ll let you think about that for a moment.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
The student and teacher need to trust each other.
The student needs to trust that the teacher is imparting useful knowledge unto them, that the teacher knows what they’re talking about, that the teacher knows what they’re doing, and that the teacher truly knows the best ways to make the student a better musician. If a student doesn’t trust their teacher, they won’t do what their teacher says–and therefore won’t improve. The student needs to trust their teacher to guide them through the difficult and frustrating parts of learning a new skill, and they need to trust the teacher to continue to foster a love of making music even when it’s not as easy as we’d like it to be.
Music teachers need to trust their students to listen, to practice efficiently, and to take their word on the things that they’re learning. They need to trust their student to push through frustrations and get back to the joy of music-making.
The student needs to trust themselves.
At a very basic level, people who are learning something need to trust their brain to learn and retain the information that it’s being fed. They need to trust their hands or their mouth to learn new things to play an instrument to sing.
On a bit of a deeper level–learning a new skill makes you vulnerable. Being a musician and partaking in the arts makes you vulnerable. Budding musicians needs to trust themselves, and know that their vulnerability in these instances is what will make them enjoy music, and that it’s what will make people want to hear them make music.
And so, next time you go to practice, think about how your trust your brain to allow you to practice mindfully, how you trust your muscle memory to help you learn technique.
Next time you go to your lesson, think about how you trust your teacher to impart the knowledge and skills that they’ve likely cultivated through playing through their childhood and receiving (at least) a bachelor’s degree in the instrument they’re teaching you.
Trust that the process of making yourself into a musician is an incredible rewarding one, and that the skills you are developing will not just be musical!
Now that you know–go forth and be successful!