9 Tactics to Battle (Music) Exam Stress. (Part 2)

This is a continuation of last week’s blog 9 Tactics to Battle (Music) Exam Stress. (Part 1).

4) Awareness of Your Thoughts

a. The thoughts you choose to think are going to affect:
i. How you feel.
ii. How happy or unhappy you feel
iii. How well or how badly you do at something.
iv. Your self confidence. (self-confidence is: thinking of yourself very highly)
b. Choose to think differently if the thoughts you are thinking are not helping you. If you think you’re the kind of person who never did good at tests, and indeed every time you have a test, you don’t do so well, maybe you should choose to think differently. Choose happy thoughts: “Doing well on tests is really pretty easy, it only takes preparedness. I can easily do this!” My guess is that you will be amazed at the difference in results you will get if you consistently monitor and improve the quality of your thoughts till positive thinking becomes a habit.
c. Last but not least: there is one thing that is even better than “focusing on monitoring, controlling and changing your thought patterns. All this seems like very hard work. Much better than putting in all that hard work in your thinking, is… “not thinking at all”. THAT too is a choice you make. You really can stop all the mind chatter. It is called “meditation” and god knows I should do it more often myself. We all have our excuses, but fact of the matter remains: 10-15 minutes is all you need for meditation. We ALL can find 10-15 minutes a day to sit down, relax our body and mind and choose to let go of all thoughts for these 15 minutes. Volumes have been written about the many benefits of meditation.
Trust me: meditation is not a waste of time you could be playing guitar. It is going to make you a much better guitar player in much shorter amount of time.

5) Action Breeds Discipline.

a. Everything that you do or that “happens to you” is something you chose for. Getting into action, gets you to accomplish more, which automatically makes you feel really great about yourself. It’s as easy as picking up your guitar and start practicing.
b. Action gets your energy up.
Your Chi is up and running and your energy is in motion when you are in motion. Energy in motion breeds more energy. The more energy you have, the more of that energy that you can then allocate towards focus and self-discipline. It is hard to concentrate on something when you lack the energy to keep your concentration up.
c. Procrastination makes life harder and less fun. Why?
You are wasting time and energy using your brain as a database of things you still need to take care off. If you finish things right away, you can use your brain and mental energy to focus on new projects or new exercises or new adventures.
As a result: your mind will feel less cluttered (not as much stuff to have to think about because you take care of things immediately) AND more open (which also means: more receptive, to for example, solutions).

6) Have a Plan.

Know where you are and where you are moving towards. Being disciplined is one thing, but it is not going to do you any good if your self-discipline is not bringing you closer in the right direction towards your plans, vision, and goals. You need to know where you are going to. What do you really want to accomplish in this life? What would be your ultimate dream life? What are your guitar goals? What kind of player would you like to be? There’s a lot of questions you want to ask yourself, but if you figure that out, and then you map out all the steps that you need to take in order to get there… being disciplined is going to be really easy.
Why?
Because you will be working on something you REALLY want to do with direction. Direction gives you clarity. You know why you are doing the work you are doing and where it fits in in the bigger scheme of your grand design. As a result: you fall in love even more deeply with the study of music and guitar.

If you love what you do, then discipline comes as a result of that. It no longer even feels like discipline when you work hard, if what you are working on is something you are in love with. It is easier to fall in love with something that is in line with who you really are and that is in line with your life’s purpose. In order to figure that purpose and direction out: you need to have a road map.

However: make sure you don’t over plan. Many people get into the habit of wasting time planning the planning.
While I was a student in Berklee College of Music, the end of each semester typically consisted of a huge tsunami of all extra projects suddenly thrown my way, which I had 3 weeks or less to finish (not including the final exams in the last week). When you have such extreme deadlines, you don’t plan, you don’t waste time telling yourself that it is impossible to get all this work done: you just take action, get to it, and try to knock each project out as fast as you can.


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