Below are 3 simple ways to boost confidence in yourself so that you can feel like the magnificent being that you are. I dare you to try them all.
1. Play in your backyard
The biggest mistake we all make is to never allow our beautiful music to be heard by others. If you never let others hear you, then performance fears will only grow. So, start small by simply going out back and playing ANYTHING for 30-seconds.
Just do it!
Keep working up to longer and longer playing intervals. 30 seconds becomes 1 minute. 1 minute becomes 5, and so on.
The first time I ever tried this, I was terrified. I think I peeped out a total of two very quiet squeaks on my clarinet and then immediately ran back inside. But you know what? The next day I went outside and tried again. I played a little louder. I waited. Nothing happened. No one in the neighborhood said anything. Nobody threw tomatoes at me. In fact, it felt quite freeing to realize that nobody seemed to care much about what noise I was making in my own backyard. What a concept!
So, I kept doing it. Every day I went out for increasingly longer spans of time. I eventually started to complete full practice sessions outside under a canopy. Every time I played outside, my confidence rose simply through the exposure of playing in a place anyone could hear me (even though I couldn't see any of them).
One time, I heard a "woo!" and enthusiastic clapping from behind my neighbor's fence after I slogged through a piece I had barely started to learn. I probably squeaked every 30 seconds. But you know what? My neighbor loved it.
You never know who will be listening and enjoying your music, and most certainly nobody will ever hear it if you never give them the chance. People LOVE music. Music is one of those things you can share with the world, even if you play only for your own enjoyment. So take your music outside and let your neighbors enjoy it too. Make someone's day! Maybe it will inspire them to pick up an instrument too!
Side Note: Make sure to do this during the afternoon when most people are awake, rather than early morning or late evening. Avoiding noise complaints should be a given.
2. Dress your best
It has been scientifically proven that those who dress for success have increased confidence, and are more successful than those who do not pay attention to the way they look. Hence, the old adage, "dress for success" is actually a true recipe for confidence building.
It never fails that when I'm having a bad day, taking the time to groom myself makes me feel like a rockstar. I dress in my nicest clothes, put on my best makeup, and groom myself as if I were to walk down the red carpet next to the biggest stars.
The research shows that when you take the time to groom yourself well, you feel like a leader, someone who takes action, rather than a passive follower. Following this simple concept will help you feel great about yourself, even when you're feeling down.
If you're reading this in bed, this is my call to you to get up and dress up!
3. Play in the mirror
Before you can feel confident around others, you must first learn to be confident with yourself. My advice to you is to take your instrument to the bathroom mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and play.
Play for yourself. Cheer for yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. In the end, you are what matters most to yourself.
Prioritize cultivating a love for your own self and your own playing. Because once you find that trust within yourself, you will shine, even when no one is watching.
Are there other ways that you boost your confidence? Share your stories in the comments!
Until next time, happy practicing. :)