1 Simple Trick That Has Changed My (Musical) Life!

I wanted to take a quick minute to share a practice that I recently adopted. It’s so simple but it feels like it’s had a massive impact on my musical growth this year. Here’s what I do (you can customize this in any way, though!):

-I use an app called Trello to organize all my upcoming projects and performances. I have a Trello “board” for upcoming events and a board for completed events.

-After I finish a recording project/live show/whatever it is, I move it from the “upcoming” board to the “completed” board and take 3 quick notes: “What went well”, “What didn’t”, and “What I learned”.

-As soon as possible, I reflect on what I’ve done and list what I’m proud of, what could have been better, and what I learned.

A big theme for me, for example, has been that I rely too much on the audience to supply my energy or confidence. Through this practice of quick reflection, I’ve become aware of my “problem” and learned to get ahead of it. Now, I work much harder to start a performance with as much confidence as I can muster, regardless of how the audience SEEMS to feel. 9 times out of 10, they’re enjoying it even though their faces say “I have fallen asleep inside.”

Here’s my entry for my most recent project, a recording session with folks I had never met before:

  • What went well: my voice sounded good, despite fatigue; I was able to suggest harmony parts; the client, studio owner, and engineer all seemed pleased. The client liked my voice as-is/I didn’t have to alter my sound.

  • What didn’t: I felt socially awkward; I didn’t really connect with the other musicians. I didn’t have the soli line memorized beforehand. Could have been more prepared.

  • What I learned: you can always be more prepared! It feels good to be completely prepared. Try going a little bit out of my comfort zone socially—walk in with a smile, introduce myself, compliment others.

The point of this is absolutely not to be hard on yourself or overly critical! It’s just a chance to celebrate what went well and be intentional about learning from your experiences. We often learn passively, but this is a great way to be a little more active. Let me know what you think!