One of the big issues a music performer has to face is comparison, often from our own thoughts. I admit it. I’ve been guilty of these sorts of statements:
- I could never be as good at this as he is.
- You are much better than me at this sort of thing.
- I’m not up there with the experts.
- My sister always played better than I did.
Reflect with me for a moment about some of the things that happen when we make such comparisons.
- Comparisons can have a damaging effect, particularly between siblings, when one seems to move through the skill areas quicker than the other, often simply because they have different learning styles.
I have found that siblings do well if they follow a different course on the same instrument, or learn a different instrument.
- When we compare we often allow self doubt to creep in. It is fine to honour another person, but it would be better if we do it in a way that doesn’t put ourselves down. The other person doesn’t want us to do that anyway!
How about we genuinely honor those who have a talent we don’t have. Be glad for them without envy. But then to help ourselves with that, be grateful for the skills we do have.
- If comparing is going to help you strive to do well, without having to put someone else down in the process, then it is a good thing. If you find this sort of competitive approach helpful to your learning, you should embrace it and use it to propel your own learning. For example, on hearing as a young child that Mozart was my age when he wrote a certain piece, I figured that I could explore the possibility, why not? Now…look what I just deleted. …”I may not have written something as good as Mozart…” See what we do so easily! But let me finish it. ….”but it did motivate me to write something.” These days, creating music is still one of my favourite things to do. For someone else hearing that Mozart wrote a well known classical piece when he was 6 would be enough to give up on the piano and go and do something else. Why do we do this?
- Do you find that you sometimes lose momentum in your own learning if you have been thinking how much better someone else is progressing than you?
I read this week in the world’s best selling book a thought that got me started on this blog. It says:
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. ” Galatians 6:4,5
Nice. If I’m improving from what I did before, that’s what matters and I can be free from the burden of comparing myself to others.
This afternoon after teaching some lovely pupils in another country via a Zoom lesson I wrote a short little piano piece in D major, just because. Anyway, I’ve decided to share the audio with you. It doesn’t have a title and I don’t know how I will use it yet, but I feel safe sharing it with you to enjoy because you are not going to compare it with Mozart or anyone else anyway… Are you?!