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“Patience Child..” Dealing with frustration..

April 9, 2014

My Dad says there’s nothing that winds you up quicker than your own kids and your own pets.

I’d like to add ‘ourselves’ to that. I find that nothing winds up students quicker than themselves.

Learning music is like learning a language. It is a process and a set of skills that, over time and with repetition, anyone can develop (yes even you that thinks you’re ‘tone deaf’).

Self deprecation is not big and it’s not clever…

Patience is a huge a part of this process with any musical instrument, but especially singing. The more frustrated you become, and the more cross you get with yourself, the more tense you get and therefore increase the likelihood of it going badly. We shout at ourselves, exaggerate how bad it was “I sound like a strangled cat” (wish I could claim some royalties on that expression!), and call ourselves names. Self deprecation is not big and it’s not clever when it comes to learning to sing. As Brits, if I can generalise a bit here, we don’t like to brag or show off, and we like to be the first to point out our own failures before anyone else does, “yes I know that sounded really awful, before you say anything!”. And boy don’t we like to be right – “see, I told you it would be awful!” Even if you are right after objective analysis, is that constructive? The bottom line is that beating yourself up will not help you learn – quite the opposite – it is downright counter-productive.

 peru-inca-trail-day-3-steep-stepsStep by step…

Imagine that you have a skill you are trying to teach another person, or even a child. How long would it take for you to get as frustrated as that with them? To the point that you verbally and emotionally abuse them? If you’re the sort of person that would hurl insults at a child that doesn’t get everything perfect first time, then you have bigger problems than learning to sing quite honestly. Of course you wouldn’t. You would calm them, nurture them, explain slowly, take it step by step, encourage them to be objective, contextualise their frustrations when they start to lose perspective by reflecting their achievements to them rather than pointing out all the things they have yet to master. If no one else deserves to be spoken to that way, then neither do you.

If you’re really stuck, have a break, do a quick breathing exercise to calm yourself down, do some yawning and sighing exercises, bring your attention back to the breath, slow your thinking down and try again as if you are that small child you are trying to teach. Here are some resources you can use to help you if you need them.

Machu Piccu Play nicely…

The moral to the story is that by applying that patience to yourself, you will develop much quicker, and have a much more enjoyable time on your musical journey. Play nicely. And before you know it, you’ll be standing on the ground you’ve been working towards..


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