Normally I would submit this to the articles page on
wholenote.com, but that page has not been updated in a
long time so I'm posting my new article here.
Top Secrets of Common Sense ~ Part 1
by Tom Hess
If you believe you can, you will. If you believe you cant,
No matter what your musical skill level is right now,
there are going to be many significant challenges ahead of
you. Your attitudes, and the ways you deal with musical
challenges, will be single greatest factor in determining how
much you will achieve as a musician. If you believe that you
can, and will, overcome your greatest challenges, you will
find a way, or you will seek help from a teacher, trainer,
coach or mentor that will help you through it. If you dont
believe you can achieve, your done, its over, because you
A true story of self-fulfilling prophecy
OK, a short history lesson here might go a long way,
so here it is. In early 16th century Mexico, existed a great
empire called the Aztecs. In fact, it was the most powerful
civilization in North America up to the year 1519. It was in
that year when the Spanish conquest began. Cortez
brought with him about 400 men, and with these soldiers,
they defeated virtually the entire Aztec empire. How did
Cortezs men defeat this great empire with only 400 men?
Was it with superior weapons or superior military tactics?
No! The Aztec emperor (and many of his people) believed in
a myth that some day in the future a god would return to
Mexico to destroy them. When the Spaniards arrived with
their strange skin color, beards, clothes and weapons, the
Aztecs knew they couldnt win. They believed they could
not overcome the power of Cortezs tiny army because they
thought Cortez was the god who was returning to destroy
them. The Aztec empire was destroyed forever by a false
belief (that Cortez was their god and that it was
impossible and useless to try to defeat him)! There are
many other military defeats throughout world history
caused by other types of false beliefs. Had the defeated
armies and/pr rulers had different beliefs, the history of the
world could have turned out to be quite different.
As you see above, the negative results of false beliefs,
and not believing in oneself, can be devastating for entire
civilizations, so imagine how badly your negative beliefs can
hurt your ability to effectively learn your instrument!
Lets find out where your attitude is likely to be
1. Play something on your instrument that you cannot play
2. Listen critically to your playing.
3. Identify problems and try to define for yourself what
4. What are your mental thought patterns? What is the
voice inside your mind telling you?
Lets say what you played above was a scale at high speed.
You noticed that not all the notes were played cleanly.
Now lets look at two types of thought patterns and attitudes
you might have about that:
1. You say to yourself, These notes are not even, clean
and clear.I cant get it! This sounds terrible!.I guess I
have to try harder.it still doesnt sound goodI just
CANT do it!.Maybe I just dont have what it takes?
2. Or you say to yourself, These notes are not even,
clean and clear.Im going to record myself playing these
scales, so I can listen while I am focused only on listening
and not on playing.Where do the worst spots seem to be
happening?..Where are the better notes located?
Hmmm, I notice the problem seems to be occurring when I
change from string to string or every time I use my ring
finger..Perhaps, the string changing problem is caused
from inefficient right hand motion and maybe the ring
finger is causing problems because its not working
independently from the other fingers..Ill ask my teacher
about this and he will probably offer specific exercises I can
do to strengthen these weak areas. Then Ill be able to play
these scales correctly!.
Obviously the differences between these two opposite
attitudes are huge. More importantly is the difference in
results one will get from choosing to approach the same
problem with opposite thought patterns and attitudes. The
first attitude offers only self-doubt, pessimism, a negative
self-image and hopelessness. The second offers
confidence, self-reliance, hope, optimism, security and the
desire to get through the difficulty of mastering this
technique. Even though working with a great teacher is the
very best way to improve your skills, only your thought
patterns, positive attitude, and the way you deal with
challenges, will make significant improvement actually
happen. Its that simple!
Why most people fail to ever become musicians.
More than half of people in the United States who
begin to play an instrument will quit in less than one year
from the time they begin to play. Another significant
percentage of people will play occasionally, but will not
make much forward progress on their instrument. Why?
Well there are many possible factors, but the biggest two
1. They took the first attitude mentioned above.
2. They didnt learn from a great teacher on a long-term
Inaction: The worst possible thing
Inaction (taking no action), when action is necessary,
is the worst possible thing, I can think of, for all areas in
life. For most people, inaction comes easily and naturally.
Its so easy to do nothing. Its so easy to not take guitar
lessons. Its so easy to not find a better teacher, coach
and mentor. Hey, Im not perfect either, there were plenty
of times in my past when I too took the path of least
resistance and did nothing when I really needed to. Those
decisions to do nothing (or to do little) led me to..
A few years ago, I got tired of living with regrets and made
some interesting observations about them. Regret is a
poison, a toxic waste that marinates in your soul. What
drives our regrets? Most of our regrets in life occurred, not
from what we have done (or said or thought), but from we
didnt do. Our failures are not the main cause of regret and
unhappiness, it is passing up our opportunities to grow,
improve and make things better that hurts us most. Think
What will you do?
I teach a private and correspondence music careers
class where I teach, train and coach my students to become
professional musicians, music teachers, etc. The very first
(and probably most valuable) thing I do as my students
mentor is ask them this question: What are you committed
to do, RIGHT NOW TODAY, to reach your goals? Even if you
are only able to make a small baby step forward, tell me
WHAT WILL YOU DO RIGHT NOW?!?! This very moment is
the first moment of your future. You create your future by
what you do in the present!
So, what will YOU do right now? What thoughts will
you allow to fill your mind? Who will you call or email? How
will you spend the rest of your day? What action will take
right now? What will you do in this present moment,
which will contribute to your future?
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Copyright 2005 by Tom Hess. All rights reserved. Used by
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