destroying creativity for you?
Here's how to shut him up for good! [video]

Is your inner critic destroying creativity in you? Let's fix that:

It looks as if, second to learning music itself, the biggest task one has is dealing conclusively with self criticism - the “inner critic”. Unfortunately, you may know him.

Let's take a look at this from a musician's perspective: Acclaimed jazz pianist, KENNY WERNER, author of the book: "EFFORTLESS MASTERY". One of the major precepts in his methodology is: "THERE ARE NO WRONG NOTES". Watch him show us this principle in action, above with some marvelous exercises which show how it works

If you enjoyed the above video, then you should definitely get his classic book, "EFFORTLESS MASTERY"



The inner critic is generally conceived to be made up of all of the accumulated advice, evaluation, criticism, embarrassment, duress, failure, arbitrary standards of teachers and genres, your mom and dad or what-have-you. Another thing which has been generally noted about this manifestation is that it feeds upon itself, every failure, every lapse from “perfection”, whatever that may be, adds more fuel to the fire, destroying creativity.

And as if that weren't enough, each successive bout of self-criticsm leaves the musician less and less happy with his own skill, ultimately causing him or her to give up playing music altogether.

Well, this has happened way too often, and a lot of musicians, scholars and even doctors and scientists have recognized this, worked on this problem and have come up with various methods intended to overcome self criticism.

And do you know what? A lot of them DO work.

Here's another approach to the INNER CRITIC problem: one of the m"ost successful books in this area: "THE INNER GAME OF MUSIC". by Barry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey. [W. Timothy Gallwey iss the author of THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS" and other books].

“The Inner Game” is built upon a few key premises. Startingwith this formula.”The Performance Equation”: P = p - i, “perfomance" [the result you acheive] equals "potential" [your innate ability] MINUS “interference” [the capacity to get in your own way].

The idea here is that “P” is already covered by all the training which a musician does in order to learn and master his instrument. The "Inner Game" approach is to REDUCE INTERFERENCE while raising potential, ”p”, as done conventionally through training and education. The net result would be of course greater than if one merely used training alone.

Makes sense, I think.

Another key “Basic” of the Inner Game is the notion of the “two selves”. One of which is our concepts of how things “should be” As they state “It is particularly fond of the words “should”, “shouldn’t” and often sees things in terms of what “could have been”. The OTHER “self” is described as “the vast reservoir of potential within each one of us. It contains our natural talents and abilities, as is a virtually unlimited resource that we can tap and develop. Left to its own devices, it performs with gracefulness and ease.”

One of these “selves” is of course, the source of self-criticism, the inner critic. The other is YOU, say, as an 8-year old, running through the field ecstatically enjoying each moment with no thought of “should”, “shouldn’t” or “should have”. etc..

Now here, I will state a objection which I consider very important: The authors designate the “inner critic” self as SELF ONE, and the personal, ecstatic essential self as SELF TWO.

Well, I do concur that that is the "dichotomy" But I think the numbering scheme is upside-down. And here's why:

Obviously YOU existed as a self before you began to criticize yourself. Therefore: YOU including your innate creativity >are"SELF ONE"! The rest is, frankly, the ‘crap’ and can be given the designation of “SELF TWO”.

Furthermore: the number "TWO" Has the connotation of being subordinate to the number "ONE", which puts things in the correct perspective as far as I'm concerned, So as I read tho book and did the exercises I switched the designations, one to the other, then THE INNER GAME then worked very well for me.

The strategies here are: to get the “inner critic” turned off, OR ignored to the point of its turning itself off, OR habituating oneself into NOT TURNING IT ON IN THE FIRST PLACE,

Here are more concepts of THE INNER GAME: a definition of "awareness": "When our perceptions are filtered through our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, we seldom see as clearly as when we are in a nonjudgemental state of pure awareness. [...] When wer are simply aware, without judgement, of the degree to which the outcome of our acts matches our intention, a natural learning takes place."

And some more key concepts: "Will" - "the direction and intensity of your intention". and "trust" - "to allow simple awareness to take place, without immediately bombarding yourself with criticisms and judgements".

These three qualities or attributes summate to RELAXED CONCENTRATION, the desired state. THE INNER GAME proposes that these abilities are not hard to muster up. There are various exercises in the book which allow you to demonstrate to yourself the difference between the inner critic and YOU. The first one being to take a simple rhythm and DELIBERATELY "try too hard" to make it PERFECT.. Then to simply do it.. Of course you can sense the dichotomy right away.

And here are some elements to use in practicing:

MENTAL PRACTICE: Practicing away from the instrument. Many accomplished musicians have applied this, Paderewski and others. It efficacy has long been proven in terms of learning the music itself, but in this context it's also used as a effective tool to vanquish self-criticlsm.

HEARING THE MUSIC IN YOUR HEAD: Frankly this surprised me - I never do anything else! But for those who actually "wait" to put the music in their fingers and out through the insrument and THEN hear what the music is, I highly recommend this approach. And the book has various drills to develop this faculty within you.

uNDERSTANDING THE EMOTIONAL CONTEXT OF THE MUSIC - IMAGINING IT SO AS TO EXPERIENCE THE EMOTION WHILE PLAYING - Of course, that's what it's all about. This is actually well-known to actors, of course. It's their stock in trade. But MUSICIANS can harness this as well to create satisfying and transcendent performances. Of course, while the emotions are occurring, there is no room in your awareness for self-criticsm.

NOTICING YOUR MUSICAL GROWTH AS IT OCCURS BY MASTERING "ELEMENTS" [a phrase, a theoretical element of a chord progression, a trill, etc.] ONE ELEMENT AT A TIME. Don't try to learn the whole piece with all it's parameters in 'one gulp'. It's been found to be counterproductive, and 'devils food cake' for self-criticism!

The Inner Game goes on with excercises about GOAL SETTING, "TRUST" and other aspects.

I've used these exercises and applied the theoretical data behind them to quite satisfactory results. I learned a lot from this book, it definitely helped my music-making and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

[This is the first in a series on "KILLING THE INNER CRITIC" if you dig this material, wait till you see what's coming! Tell then, good playing!]

For more of KENNY WERNER: here's KENNY WERNER'S full series of 16 video master classes on the ARTISTS' HOUSE MUSIC site - click this link:

-- And here are some more tools for your toolbox:

The absolute best program of hand strengthening exercises which was ever developed for musicians is: THE COWLING SYSTEM. It can RAPIDLY revolutionize your playing at ANY level - Find out about it here

This is the BEST MUSIC TEACHING SOFTWARE I've seen! And check here for some great tips on how to practice music.

SLOW DOWN MUSIC - WITHOUT changing its pitch! Here are the current front-runners in "slow-down" audio and video software.

Reading music doesn't have to be mysterious or tedious. Get help with these free music reading tips and links to great resources!

ONLINE MUSIC THEORY GAMES and EAR TRAINING, Yes, there are FREE [or low cost] apps which are really good! See what we found:

You've just found the BEST info on How To Write a Song! From real WORKING pro's. - plus links to a great free rhyming dictionary, an excellent online chord dictionary and more. Learn & enjoy!

The THESAURUS: It can help you turn that "blank page" into an explosion of songwriting ideas! Check out these FREE or low cost ones.

Did you know? MASTERWRITER songwriting software is SO much more than merely a "rhyming dictionary with a thesaurus" - See how it can improve your songwriting.

Explore these pages:

Creative AND practical music education for kids? CARL ORFF'S SCHULWERK is both! - Click here to find out more.

Here are some wonderful exercises in creativity and inspiration from Benjamin Zander


How does SANITY fit in with a definition of creativity? Here's further info:

How do you unlock creativity in an inner-city child? Ask Rafe Esquith & The Hobart Shakespeareans

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