“The Four Agreements” for Musicians
If you aren’t familiar with “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Rodriguez, take a moment and Google it. You don’t have to read the whole book, but definitely take some time to consider the agreements that he presents. I read them every day and use them to work through challenging moments. They are especially useful in the music world. Regardless if you are dealing with internal conflict or external conflict, they really help with perspective. I have listed them below along with a small example of how you may apply them in the music world. Enjoy!
“Be Impeccable With Your Words: Speak with integrity. Say what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of the word in the direction of truth and love.”
How does this apply to music? Words mean things, regardless if you are saying them to other people or to yourself. Think about what you would say to your friend when they play music and say those same things to yourself. Be sincere with what you say. Don’t participate in negative conversations about others.
“Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
How does this apply to music? No one is a mind reader! If you need help or are struggling with a musical concept, ask your teacher, don’t assume they know you are struggling. Always make sure you clarify things that have to do with scheduling as well such as rehearsals, lessons, and performances. Do not assume you know when and where these things take place if you have not been given that information.
“Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
How does this apply to music? Be proud of what you do. Play your music for you. It’s very easy to take what others say the wrong way, especially in a rehearsal setting or lesson setting. Those environments are supposed to be safe places where structured input, advising, and critiquing take place. If you need clarity, see “Don’t Make Assumptions.”
“Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment: it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best. You will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret."
How does this apply to music? This does not mean always being perfect. I'm going to say that again: ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST DOES NOT MEAN ALWAYS BE PERFECT. Mistakes are going to happen, but if you did your best, you have been true to yourself and your hard work. Remember, it’s YOUR best, not someone else’s.
Christina Craig Gentzsch is one of the co-owners and cello instructor at Dynamic Music Studios in Coralville, Iowa.
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Candid Photo by CliftonMarie Photography