As a singer songwriter, you know how long it can take to write a song. You also know that there is a multitude of decisions to make as you decide on tempo, key, melody, lyrics and feel for your song.
Yet when it comes to making decisions in other areas, we can tend to be less confident.
My wife and I were on the lookout for a new car. We had discussed that it had to have at least 6 seats for 4 kids and 2 adults this was our minimum requirement.
So while out looking, and I’m not sure who said it first, but one of us said something along the lines of “that Pajero looks like a nice car’. Then the other one said something along the lines of ‘Yeah, I like that’. The following day, we could be seen driving around in our new Pajero.
Fast forward approximately 12 months and we needed rego, new tyres and I think a new windscreen and the discussion came up about who decided to buy the Pajero. The next conversation was, ‘I thought you wanted it’, ‘No, I thought you wanted to buy it’, ‘so you didn’t want to buy the Pajero’, ‘I didn’t mind that we bought it, but I thought you really wanted to buy it’. So we sold the Pajero.
What I learn’t was that it is really easy to make decisions based on what we think other people want. Partly because we don’t know what we want and partly because we often want to please people.
Being confident in who you are, knowing what you want and being confident enough to say what you want is a skill that is essential for a musician. Too often creative people just go with ‘whatever’, but when it comes to the time you are presented with a recording contract then you really want to know what you want and be confident enough to say it. Otherwise you will be walked all over.
Making confident decisions is a life skill, not reserved just for the rich or successful but something that every person should have.
Practice with small things – when someone says, ‘what drink would you like’. Instead of ‘whatever you’re having’, be decisive. Ask for a ‘tall skinny cinnamon dolce latte at 140 please’ if that’s what you want.
Sometimes, even if you’re not sure what you want, confidently choose one and go for it.
People follow confidence and an audience wants to see confidence. A confident performer will catch the attention of the audience. They can make an ordinary song sound great or a great song sound exceptional.
If you can learn to make decisions confidently, then you have a much better chance of achieving your goals too. Great businessmen must speak confidently to do business. You must perform confidently to reach your audience.
If people find you indecisive, they sense that you are not sure what your sound is, see that you lack confidence on stage, then it makes it harder to communicate your message. Yes, music will communicate part of that for you, but confidence in who you are through your performance will make a stronger, longer lasting connection.
Making decisions is something you will have to do for the rest of your life.
We need to realise that for many things, there isn’t a wrong decision, just decisions that will take you in a different direction. It often doesn’t mean you chose the wrong thing, It just means you chose a different path to get the same result.
When you make a decision, you decide on something and then there is an action that follows the decision. The problem is that many people don’t make a decision, so therefore there is no action.
Making decisions and being decisive gives you the opportunity to move, and to move forward.
You can adjust the direction of a moving car by turning the steering wheel. You can’t change the direction of a car that is not moving no matter how much you turn the steering wheel.
The more decisions you make the better you get at it. Just like writing songs, the more songs you write, the better you become at song writing.
When you see the contestants cooking on Masterchef, it’s not their first time in the kitchen. They have been cooking up different recipes and making mistakes for a long time. Experimenting with different recipes, making decisions that could taste good or be thrown away. But if they didn’t go through the process over and over again, then they would not be good enough to go on the show.
Making decisions, right or wrong, at least you are moving.
I like to look at it this way. You make a right decision, you remember what you did so you can do it again and move on. You make a wrong decision, you remember what you did so that you don’t do it again and move on.
Obviously as you learn, you should start to make more good decisions than bad decisions just because you now have more experience and of course because you are an intelligent musician.
After writing this article, it occurred to me that learning from your mistakes doesn’t actually get you any further along, you still don’t know what it is that works. So I went back through all my successes, the things that worked really well and decided to repeat those instead and try to make them better. This is when everything really started to happen.
Start learning from your successes more than your mistakes.
Thinking back on it now, it is really obvious that that’s what you should be doing.. another lesson I had to learn.
Lead sheets and full score
Complete lead sheets and score for the instrumental 'Weaker' written by Christopher Richter. Licence to allow schools to reproduce copies for the students of the registered school.
Alto Saxophone, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Bass Guitar and Drums.
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