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The Psychology of Musical Success

In this article we will be talking about the psychology of musical success. Specifically, we’ll be talking about self-image, the jazz musician and how it all relates to the psychology of musical success.

Your self-image is basically your understanding of your self. It’s your definition of yourself. It’s your belief system about YOU. It determines what you think you’re good at, bad at. It determines where you believe your talent lies, what you believe you are capable of and what you think you are worthy of in life. It also determines what you believe you will fail at and what you believe you will never achieve. All this included in the psychology of musical success, or success in any other circumstance.

Here’s the real kicker though. It is impossible to act in conflict with your self-image. Self-image is EVERYTHING. It is paramount to achieving big goals. It is at the very foundation of what makes it possible to succeed as a jazz musician. If you do not believe in your ability to achieve your musical goals or you experience a lot of self-doubt, then forget about practicing more, or finding the right book or teacher. Forget about willpower or discipline. You need to start with that foundation of self-image. Then everything else will fall into place.

Luckily self-image is not fixed. Self-image can be changed. And there are proactive things you can do to strengthen it. One of the best ways to change your self-image is by using your imagination.

Using your imagination is an extremely powerful way to reprogram your mind, literally. Spend time each day visualizing yourself as the jazz musician and person you would like to be. See yourself acting confidently and imagine what that feels like. The more details you bring to the visualization the better. How are playing? How do you feel? What does the room look like? Constantly hone and refine your visualization until you reach a close-to-perfect model of who you want to become. Than practice and repeat this process everyday.

Studies have actually shown that the brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination. As you visualize yourself as the player you wish to become your brain will create new neural connections, connections of confidence and strength. Gradually over time and through repeated practice of visualization these connections will become stronger and more plentiful and the old connections of self-doubt will begin to weaken and fade. I should note though that it’s not enough to just visualize. You must combine that with real action, i.e. practice and other musical activities. After a short period of time, a few weeks or so, you will begin to see results in your real life.

Chris Punis is a jazz musician, educator and author. His teachings and writings have helped literally thousands of jazz musicians worldwide achieve their musical goals and hone their jazz practice skills. For a free copy of his book ‘The Monster Jazz Manifesto’ please visit

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