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The Power of Bad: And How to Overcome It - For Musicians! The Best Book to Help With Positivity.

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

For this blog post I am going to talk about something that has an impact on everyone, but especially musicians. A friend recommended this book, by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister to me a while ago, during a time when I was struggling a bit with my own belief and my own confidence. It definitely helped me and following my performance at The Brass in Concert Championships, it is always good to reflect and remind myself about the powers of positivity.

Euphonium power of bad book

You can use my affiliate link to browse for this book on Amazon. Just follow the link in this text or click the picture. It is available as an audio book, via the kindle app or regular paperback, new or used.

The Power of Bad Hits Musicians Straight After the Performance.

When I came off stage, in my last performance, I had some familiar thoughts going through my head. The power of bad had control over me. A few questions, that pop up subconsciously. A focus on certain things, but nothing I am in control of. It is a weird feeling, almost like a day dream where you reflect quickly and brutally on the experience of that performance. When you speak to others, they are often doing the exact same thing! Some questions include:

"What did I do wrong?"

"What didn't go well?"

"What did people think about me?"

"How silly did I look?"

Why is it that my mind doesn't praise me straight away or doesn't congratulate me on an amazing performance? Well, this is 'The Power of Bad'.

Sometimes, yes, things do not go our way in life or in music. We might know we have messed up and know we didn't give our best and we have to deal with it. We have all been there and it is not a nice feeling. I normally just think about my family (who will love me regardless of anything) and also just very seriously tell myself to get back up, learn from it and move on.

However, even in those situations, it is important to reflect positively. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Was it really as bad as we thought?

How to Overcome The Power of Bad as a Musician?

As a musician and as a brass teacher, I often think about the idea that we get the whole picture. We feel, we think, we hear, we sense everything that is happening when we perform. But, what does the audience take from it? The audience do not feel the technical elements of playing the instrument, they never get the perspective from our point of view. As a brass player, I can internalise the sound I make. I can hear it inside and outside. This is an experience that no audience member or recording device is picking up.

As a result, we can be incredibly critical and negative towards ourselves when the actual picture being offered is viewed very differently by others. Audience members don't focus on the bad, they want to be entertained and want to enjoy the show.

I have taught GCSE music students a lot as a teacher and students at that age are unbelievably picky with their self image and self-esteem. I have written some advice for GCSE music performance, how to score higher marks, which can be read via this link if you are interested and have the time.

'The Power of Bad' book elaborates on the fact that 'bad' is stronger than 'good' but if we know how to deal with it, we can make sure that 'good' prevails. I am not going to give any spoilers for the book because it does contain some fantastic revelations and I highly recommend you read it if you want more help in this area. It is one of the best books on happiness you can find.

Use Positivity as a Musician to Overcome The Power of Bad.

After my last performance, as I was driving home, I used the time to run through my own personal performance and tried hard to find as much good as possible. There were a few places in the performance where I had to play very quietly, they were all successful. There were a few places where I had to play very high, they were all successful. I had to get up and move around to sit in other places, I didn't trip over anything or fall off the stage (I have fallen off a stage before! 🤣).

Good bad

I found that this positive list would go on and on and actually it completely buried any negative thoughts that I initially had.

You have to find more good in your life, make the good / bad balance tip very strongly in the good, even if it is just from lots of small little good things.

Get a grip of your thinking, steer it in a positive direction. 🏎

A few days after the performance, I had the opportunity to listen and watch the whole thing, because it had been filmed. Not one thing that I believed happened and was negative, was audible to my ears on the recording. There lies the power of bad, but my strategies from the moment I left the stage to the moment I watched the recording were positive, I overcame the bad with the good.

Grab a copy of the book and have a read, it will contribute to making you a better musician and more balanced person. It discusses other topics as well, like business, politics and psychology and is one of the best self help books I have read.

Good Preparation Beats The Power of Bad.

Before the end, it is important to remember that good will not always just fall on you by chance. In order to be successful and in order to perform brilliantly as a musician, it requires belief and effort. It might be you come off stage, knowing you didn't perform well, but also knowing that you had not worked very hard in advance. Preparation is key to success and if you want good things to happen in your life or in your performances, it is essential that you walk in the right direction. For more help with performance, check out my E-Book, The Inner Battle Between the Practice Room and the Stage.

Thanks for reading my blog. As always, if you like it, please share and consider signing up to be able to read new content as soon as it appears.

Mark Glover


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1 Comment

Nov 22, 2023

There are only two elements to everything we do. There's the task itself and your (and other people's) assessment of your performance. Better to focus on the task and ignore criticism, as it's seldom constructive or motivating. If something was really bad, either correct it in future or avoid it. However procrastinating is pointless and very destructive. Music is complex, by which I mean it involves many moving parts. When something is wrong, you have to break it down into simple elements to fix them one at a time. All sportspeople have a coach. The coach is seldom better than the athlete. However, the coach provides helpful feedback, performance analysis, and works with the athlete to prepare for the next ga…

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