Thursday, October 16, 2008


"You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety." Abraham Maslow

For many people the word "Risk" implies something negative. "I risk losing this - i risk losing that". We rarely see the word risk as a positive thing, but in reality we must all risk failure to grow. With all risk is potential reward.

We are genetically programmed to grow and experience new things - and this means risking pain. Is it not risky to learn how to walk, to ride a bike, to drive, to travel, to try new foods, to speak up, to meet new people, or to study music seriously? The risks in life are never ending. Why do we risk? For the expansion and growth of the experience.

In playing we want to risk often, because with risk comes confidence and freedom. In trying to play safe, we lose life in our playing. We may feel safety now, but we avoid our fear - so the fear keeps us playing safe. It becomes a never ending cycle.

It's important to notice your fear based boundaries, question them, and decide to push past them. That means playing faster than you may be comfortable with, learning something that is more challenging than usual, learning music theory, performing for others, working with other instrumentalists, deciding to record yourself, etc. Study one aspect of your playing that you shy away from and go towards it in some way - step by step. You'll see that as you go towards that which you fear, it will get easier.

You don't have to book a concert at a concert hall tomorrow, or decide to suddenly perform only challenging pieces. Take some small steps towards that which you want. With time, the small steps will accumulate. Will it always work out the way you want it to? Maybe yes, maybe no - but that isn't the point. The point is to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is where true growth lies.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Kevin Sherwin, a student of Tali Roth at the pre-college Juilliard. You wouldn't have met me when you did substitute because I was absent that day, but I've been reading your blog probably since last spring, and it truly helped me, along with other things such as The Power of Now, to break through a performance block. From then on, I have been a much freer guitarist in general, and I do want to thank you for this.

kevin r gallagher said...

Many thanks for your comment Kevin.