Confidence is attractive. Confidence also rubs off. It breeds stage presence and charisma. It’s hard to think of a rock star as someone who is timid on stage, playing with his shoulders hunched, looking at the ground. Taking this a step further: you will never do your best work or play your best when you don’t believe in yourself. Becoming a great musician is more than possessing musical talent and practicing hard; it’s about believing in yourself and believing that even if it might take years, that your talent will flourish through your persistence and your actions. Your thoughts and believes also have more impact on your musical development than you think! It thus pays off to think highly of you. Here’s a couple of thoughts and ideas, which applied, will make you more confident, not only as a guitarist or musician, but in all areas of your life.
- Think positively
I wonder if you have ever noticed, that you seem to be more tired and in need of more sleep, when things don’t go as you had hoped for at that moment in your life? Have you ever noticed that your energy is not as strong when you have lots on your mind or when you are stressing about things? “Stressing about things”, and having “lots on your mind” all have to do with “thinking negatively”. Nothing drains your energy more than excessive, negative thinking. I have this quote hanging in my teaching office that says: “Why worry, it will probably never happen!” By the same token: nothing elevates one more than positive thinking. While we’re not machines, and we all can fall into negative thinking when awareness falters, we do have significant control and choice over what thoughts we want to perpetuate. Nothing great ever happened through negative mind chatter. If you think you cannot do it, you are completely right, if you think you can, you are right again. Your self-confidence as a result, is affected by how you think. Cultivate thinking positive, happy thoughts, and you will notice a difference in how people in your life approach you, connect with you, and feel about you.
- Sell yourself to yourself
Another thing I have hanging on the bulletin board above my desk in my teaching office, is my 30 second commercial selling myself to myself. Tell yourself every day how important you are, what you are capable off, how everybody loves you, why you have so many friends, what your strengths are, and how happy you are to have all these fine assets in your personality. Turn this into a short text that you read a couple of times every day. I can assure you that in no time, you will feel strongly about how great you are. And so you should, because you are.
- Practice hard and see your progress
No better way to boost your self-confidence as a guitarist than through this cool feeling of achievement you get when you conquer obstacles in your playing through dedicated practice. It is hard to feel insecure when you know what you are doing. Like Charlie Parker once said: “Learn everything there possibly is to learn about music, then forget it all”. He obviously did not entirely mean that literally. You want to know everything so well, that it becomes so embedded in you that you don’t have to think about it anymore. If you don’t have to think, you can be in the moment. Applied knowledge is power: and that power shows as confidence.
- Train Your Ear.
Have you heard it said before, that Jimi Hendrix his guitar was like an extension of his body, like him and his guitar were one? This is just another way of saying how relaxed and confident he was with his guitar. This is a no-brainer really, if the rumors are true that Jimi had perfect pitch. “Perfect Pitch” is the ability to distinguish notes without needing a tonal reference: you hear an A note and you know instantly that that is an A without having to check, and you can right away play the same note you just heard on your guitar. Think of how this helps your confidence: you practically can’t mess up anymore when your ear always guides your fingers to the right locations. You don’t quite need perfect pitch: relative pitch will give you that confidence as well. Practice your ear and you will steadily become more confident as a guitarist.
- Posture: Stand Tall And Proud.
Psychologists have figured out that your mood is related to how you physically carry yourself and vice versa. They claim that it is close to impossible to stay depressed, when you go stand in front of your mirror and curl up the corners of your mouth like you’re smiling. That is something you occasionally should do while practicing guitar: stand in front of a mirror. Watching yourself play will help you to be more aware of proper posture. With relaxed arms, a straight back, relaxed shoulders, straight neck, your head and chin up, you will automatically feel more confident because you will see yourself visually look like a confident person. Moreover: you will preserve your physical well-being, avoiding future physical problems that can arise due to bad practice habits, bad technique and bad posture. You are more easily aware of your posture when you see yourself in a mirror, which makes that you then have a better sense of where correction is due. Treating your body with utmost love and respect will enhance your confidence as well, because you then stand for something: you are the person who is aware and who takes care of himself.
- Perform: Be Out There and Overcome Your Limitations.
Performing for any type and size of audience at any occasion is a great way to improve your confidence. Start small if you are worried about stepping too far out of your comfort zone: play mini-concerts at your home for a couple of close friends or a couple of family members. As you get more comfortable doing this: branch out, make flyers and invite more friends over time! When you get more comfortable doing that: get out of your living room, and start performing at the house of a close friend. Keep expanding your horizons till you book your first show at a club where you then invite all your friends. At that point: the key to making a huge break through in your nerves and lack of confidence, is to really hype up the event with flyers and promo. Record your show or even better, video tape it, so you can give yourself constructive criticism after your show when you review the tape. Tape never lies. You will learn tons about your performance from video taping it. All in all, playing publically will help you gain more confidence as you become more comfortable playing in front of other people.
- Keep Things Organized.
It makes sense that you can focus more effectively when you are working from a clean, organized space. You get more done, but you also feel better about yourself when you have visitors, and your self-esteem is more healthy knowing that you are someone people love being with. (And everybody prefers being in a clean rather than a dirty space). Making sure everything around you is organized and clean, is a sure way to gain more confidence in your ability to play guitar. After all: you will get more out of your time and play better because you’ll be more focused in a clutter-free, well-organized practice or studio space. More focused practice time improves your performance skills at accelerated pace, and those stronger performance skills enhance your confidence in return.
Becoming a confident guitarist isn’t a complicated process. It just takes awareness, positive thinking, time and practice. Through keeping up with regular practice habits, and a few simple exercises and techniques such as practicing in front of a mirror, staging a home concert, and keeping a tidy practice area, you will see your confidence grow steadily.