Developing your “mental game” is widely discussed in sports as many athletes want to achieve that little bit extra. Most professional athletes realise that at a certain level the playing field is so competitive that the difference between winning and losing is all in your mind. Whether they crack under the pressure or rise to meet the challenge, the mind is usually the defining factor.

Musicians are the same as sports men & women in this regard. Instead of scoring that sudden death penalty, they face having there body of work ripped apart or the pressures of a performance. Instead of being tormented by a past mistake such as a missed chance, we might have been scarred by an abusive teacher, a bad performance, or a negative association with a song we can never seem to remember.

The mental side of the is the game is the most important aspect involved in being a professional musician.

There is so much talent and competition in the music industry that a strong mind could be your best asset in separating you from the noise. Your mental resilience can help you overcome the many obstacles you will face. Many mentally resilient artists battle physical ailments and are successful despite their disadvantages. The music business will find ways to throw adversity at you. That is why confidence takes time to build, but it can also be shattered in a moment.

The music industry is based heavily on relationships and appearance, you never want to come across as insecure. It screams use me and within the industry sadly many will.

You just have to trust your vision and moving forward drowning out the noise. Every setback you face gives you the opportunity to build your resilience and confidence. Self-confidence is responsible for making a good artist a great and a lack of self-confidence can make a great artist seem mediocre. If you are confident in your abilities, you will most likely get further than those with comparable skills who doubt themselves. If you believe in what you do you will go beyond those with more talent than yourself. Of course, you must put in the work, but your mental approach will either “make you” or “break you” in the end. It will not guarantee you success, nor will it guarantee failure. You always hear by faking it you can “make it” in the industry.

Your mind is something that you have the power to change.

We have a great deal of control over the levels of self-confidence we want to show. It’s not just a character trait. Some believe confidence can only be built with continued success or positive feedback, why put your confidence in the hands of people whose moods change like the weather. In fact, some of the best methods of becoming more confident lie in failure. Failure can be a powerful tool of inspiration that ignites a certain drive in an artist or musician. I believe one of the most popular methods to become more confident is mastering your self-talk, that is the inner dialogue we all have with ourselves throughout the day. You’re not crazy for talking to yourself; it’s completely natural. You know the voice all too well. It’s the one that criticises you when you make a mistake, the one that reminds you of every failure, and the one that silently measures you against your peers.


People tend to listen to themselves and actually believe the things we say over what other people say. By constantly telling yourself that you’re a horrible failure and will never be a good musician, you’ll start to believe it. Not only will you believe it, but you’ll begin to physically respond to this negativity and become the failure from your thoughts. This is how confidence is destroyed. However, using this same method in a different way, confidence can be restored through positive self-talk.

Taking control of your mind to become a better performer

The mind is a powerful, but it must be controlled. If you want to up your game and potentially increase your musical ability, you must take control of your thoughts and believe these things can happen. To do this, you first have to root out the negative or unnecessary thoughts in the brain.

Feelings always follow thoughts!

A great deal of inner chat involves meaningless topics. Perhaps you’re thinking about your vocals, how your clothes look onstage, or about how your music compares to others. This kind of dialogue takes up valuable space in your thought process, that could be put to better use.

As powerful as the brain is, it has limitations. There’s only so much you can think about at once. Using this logic, it’s important to try to fill the brain with only certain information that will be helpful to your performance. Think of it like strategically loading the van so everything fits just right, or budgeting your income. Why should you waste brain space on pointless thoughts?

Now, what does any of this have to do with becoming a better musician? Music is not just about mastering the musical side of your craft, just as it’s not solely about mastering the mental side. People who experience positive feelings in a three-to-one ratio to negative emotions will ultimately come to a tipping point. At this tipping point, many find that they become more confident and less susceptible to failure. Who would have thought that “fake it ’til you make it” actually works?

Most people’s feelings and thoughts about themselves fluctuate somewhat, based on their daily experiences. How you did in your jam session, how your employer treats you, ups and downs in a romantic relationship, can all have a temporary impact on your sense of well being.

If you have good basic self-esteem, normal ups and downs may lead to temporary fluctuations in how you feel about yourself, but only to a limited extent. By contrast, if you have poor basic self-esteem, the ups and downs may be extreme, and may cause downward trends in your life. When struggling with poor self-esteem, how you did in a recent performance can determine how you feel about yourself. You may rely on positive external experiences to counteract negative feelings and thoughts. In the same way good feelings generated by a successful performance are temporary. As a musician, you may come to rely on praise from your audience or fellow musicians to feel good about your music, and thus about yourself.

Hunger for admiration may cause you to be driven to obtain recognition, and lead you to demand high achievement or perfection from yourself.


Social media isn’t real life.

For every post from one of your peers you see about a new live show, collaboration or signing there will be a lot you didn’t see about the hard work, failures and tears they may have experienced along the way.

How do we overcome the ‘noise’?

First off, we don’t need back to back successful performances to believe. We don’t even need to be the ‘best on the field’. Believing in ourselves is a confidence in our own abilities and some of our abilities are still yet to be realised, whilst some require celebrating who you are becoming. You are more than capable and extraordinary. You’ve proven that just by being an artist. Trust us, not everyone can be a musician and each artist has their own thing to offer.

Reconnect with your inner child

Remember being younger and proclaiming you would be one or a few awesome things when you grew up? That’s the confidence we’re talking about! You didn’t question it. You blurted out what you wanted to be and were sure of it. Find that feeling because that is your true self – and your true self never goes away. It may get buried beneath life stuff from time to time, but it’s there go and uncover it!


Realise people’s opinions are more about them. You are the one who can believe in you the most!

No one believes in other people more than people believe in themselves. Where have we heard that before? Many greats in history tell a version of that. High achievers, global company owners often say you must believe in yourself otherwise no one else will. You must love yourself otherwise no one else will. It’s a universal law. Help yourself and others will show up to help you. We’re all happy to help those who are putting everything they have into achieving something. We are happy to believe in someone who BELIEVES in themselves. It’s contagious.

A fulfilling career is within reach. You must match the vision with persistence and relentless belief in yourself and what you are doing. Fulfilling means all sorts of things to different people, but what does it mean to you? Figure that out and go for it.

Basil Reynolds

Coaching Consultant

Finding the Music Inside