What To Do When The Applause Is Gone

You try to cover all the bases. You practice your technical drills, review your repertoire regularly, strengthen your musicianship; you’re doing all the right things. But it still may feel like there’s something missing. Possibly you don’t feel accomplished, or you don’t see your progress.

If you’re doing all those “right things” and practicing regularly, and still experiencing a lack of fulfillment or momentum, the solution may be closer than you think, and in a way that you would never consider. What you may be missing is…applause.

Consider the current health crisis and the necessity of social distancing. Before this, you may have been accustomed to playing occasionally in a nursing home or hospital. You may have had a restaurant or hotel lobby gig. You might have been meeting regularly with other musician friends to make music together. Music is meant to be shared, and we renew our energy for our practice by making music with and for others.

There’s a second and no less important benefit to sharing our music, whether it’s through performing or participating; we experience the rewards of our efforts. We may or may not receive actual applause, but the benefit is the same: we receive validation and energy from the response of others to our playing.

It’s not that we need others to tell us we have done a good job. It’s merely that we lose our perspective when we are the only ones giving ourselves a figurative pat on the back. We aren’t sure if we are still making progress. We lose the momentum which a shared musical experience provides.

So whether you are a performer missing actual physical applause or a harpist who no longer has the rewarding experience of playing music for others, it is imperative that you find new ways to recognize and acknowledge your playing.

Our practice habits often involve critical review. We keep track of our mistakes, our shortcomings, the way we want it to be. When this is all the feedback we receive, we actually slow our forward progress. We slip all too easily into a negative thought pattern. You may be aware of this, but unaware of any way to fix it. Until now.

Step 1: Reflect

Take a moment to read through your practice journal. Look at what you have done, not just the time you have spent, but the progress you have made. I can almost guarantee that even if you don’t feel you have made progress, you will be able to see it in your journal. (Yes, this is another good reason to keep a practice journal.)

Step 2: Acknowledge

When you have identified your progress, acknowledge it. We are often quick to discount our achievements. An automatic “yes, but…” response is an energy killer. Recognize what you have done without qualification.

Step 3: Celebrate

Give yourself a gold star! You deserve a high five or a pat on the back. Do something to reward yourself, even if it’s only enjoying a cup of tea or a cookie.

In that same spirit, I want to take a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of some special students, the students in our Harp Mastery® Certified Coaching program. Last week we had an online “soiree” when the students had an opportunity to play for each other. To hear them play with new confidence and to hear them describe their struggles and newfound pride in their achievements was truly inspiring. Well done, all of you! Your coaches and I are so proud. Keep up the great work!

If you are interested in joining our coaching program we have a few openings. Click here to learn more and schedule a call.


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