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Are You Operating Under Positive Illusions?

Are you the best player in your drumline and spend more time correcting others than fixing yourself? Unfortunately, a lot of times your confidence will become cockiness, which will create a false affirmation of your capabilities.  This is a “positive illusion”, and many drummers are operating under these which leads to frustration for never making the top group they had dreams of making. Positive illusions are unrealistically favorable attitudes that people have towards themselves. I’ve seen many drummers get cut from drumlines that were far above their skill level, but couldn’t understand why they were cut.  Positive illusions are a form of self-enhancement that maintain self-esteem or stave off discomfort, at least in the short term. If you think you’re better than you are, odds are you won’t practice with the same level of intensity as someone that feels like they aren't very good. Your ego is getting in the way of your progress.  So how can you overcome this and get to the next level?

  1. Practice like you’re the worst and you’ll perform like you're the best. If you approach your practice time like you’re the worst in the drumline, you’ll have a different mindset.  You’ll be more critical of yourself and ultimately hold yourself to a higher standard.  Some of the best drummers I’ve ever marched with had no egos.  

  2. Ask for feedback from someone you think you’re better than. I’d bet that if you asked a student of yours or a junior member of your drumline to watch you play something and give you feedback, they’d have plenty.  The tendencies you have that you’ve brushed off or been ignoring for years will be quickly exposed.  Put your ego aside and use this to your advantage.  

  3. What would your idols do? Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.  His work ethic was relentless.  He knew even though he was the best, he could still be better.  The view he had of himself was one of someone that had a lot of work to do.  Did he know he was good? Sure.  Did he know he could be better?  Absolutely.  All your favorite marching percussionists are at the top of their game and never took their foot off the gas because they knew they could still get better.

We hope you bring a BEGINNER’S MINDSET to your practice sessions, no matter how much experience you have.  If you someone tells you that you’re good, don't let it change the way you view yourself.  Your self perception will be one of the biggest weapons you can have as you go on your journey through marching percussion.  Stay humble - always.


Author: John McClean

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