Musicians: Expectations and false humility

Hey y’all, I haven’t written anything on here in a while because I’ve been pretty busy trying to….. actually I don’t know. I’ve just not been writing for a couple months and I’m going to blame travel for my literary procrastination.

On to the subject at hand! I’ve been meaning to write something about this for a while and just haven’t gotten around to it (literal literary procrastination) and I’ve had several ideas about the topic but haven’t written any of it down, so this post might be good or maybe not, we’ll find out together….

So it’s intrigued me for a while how most amateur musicians always downplay their own abilities,even if they’re really good they tend to casually understate anything they do, and I’ve come to a couple conclusions. First, most of these people want to not come across as a prideful jerk, which is understandable. But I also think it might be a subconscious attempt to manage your expectations. For example, if I say I can play a little guitar and then play Tommy Emmanuel’s classical gas, you’re going to be really impressed and also likely think higher of me than if I said I was a really good guitarist and then barely managed to play classical gas and maybe have some tone or timing issues. This is a variety of false humility, because your motive behind your “self deprecation” is actually to make people think higher of you.

Another possibility is that most musicians tend towards an inferiority complex, and actually believe that their ability is lower than what it actually is.

Now of course there is that group of people that actually are prideful jerks, and are always bragging about how good they are, and this can do one of two things: either they aren’t as good as they claim, in which case eventually they’ll be found out and humiliated, or they are as good as they claim, in which case they serve to reinforce the inferiority complex of other musicians. Cuz we all are a little bit timid to put our skills out there in fear that someone better than us who is a prideful jerk will come along and totally shatter our confidence with their ridicule.

Fortunately, it seems that at least in the acoustic music world most musicians tend to be fairly nice people and very supportive of each other.

So be confident in your abilities, but don’t overstate them, and realize that if someone comes along and ridicules your honest efforts it’s only because they are so insecure that they have to put someone down to feel validated, so instead of letting them shatter your confidence you should rather pity them and don’t listen to the voice of their jealousy, and don’t become like them, just let it go and heed the voices of kindness and encouragement which often are the voices of the very best of musicians.

I didn’t really have a point with this I guess, I kind of just wrote it as I typed…. I hope you got something out of this, and I’ll try to have some more organized thoughts for y’all soon. I’ve also written several tunes recently which I’ll try to post here soon.

-Gunnar

Published by gunnarsalyer

Teen MK in Mozambique. Second of eight kids. Multi instrumentalist

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