Positive Self-Talk in the Practice Room

“The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.”

Last semester, during a partner flute lesson, my beautiful & talented colleague became frustrated with herself. She couldn’t play a passage just like she wanted to, and with each attempt, she grumbled under her breath, culminating in an exasperated shout. I smiled a little out of empathy - I think every musician in the world knows what that feels like, right? Been there. I expected my professor to laugh a little, too.

Instead, Dr. Garner Santa asked an odd question: “Do you have any pictures of yourself as a little girl?”

My lesson partner looked confused. “I think I do.”

“When you’re practicing at home, tape a picture of yourself to your stand. When you make comments about your own playing - good or bad - look at the picture. Give your feedback to that little girl instead of grown-up-you. Notice how it impacts what you say and how you say it.”


Today, on Instagram, a super-star yoga teacher shared a picture of herself as a little girl. She captioned the photo, “Be tender to your original spirit.” I was immediately reminded of Dr. Garner Santa’s lesson.

In an effort to quickly and effectively remedy problems in the practice room (or in our lives!), we often cut to the chase. We use tough love, speak in harsh terms. This process is born out of a desire for efficiency and ability to quickly self-correct. Yeah, it’s understandable, but… Have you ever considered that you are the person who speaks to yourself the most? Read that sentence again, if you need to. No matter what external factors may be, the voice that shapes your life lives inside of your own head. Whoa.

So, what percentage of your internal monologue is positive? If the voice that is shaping your life is speaking to you in a way that you’d never talk to a friend or family member (or baby-you), it might be time to re-evaluate your methods. How can you be more tender with your original spirit? How can you cause yourself less grief?

Only you can answer these questions, friend. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious lately, maybe it’s time to write a few of the above questions down and journal it out. Talk out loud to yourself in the shower. Re-read my last post on creating positive and affirming statements. Check in with the voice inside of your head. Drag out the baby picture. By increasing awareness around your own self-talk, you can make the practice room a more positive place to be.


EDIT: If you’d like to listen to this blog instead of read, click right HERE for a SoundCloud link, read by lil ole me!