Being clear on your long term goals--your goals, not someone else's--will help make this decision.  Also, you have a lifetime before you.  Is now the time to dig deep into something, and leave some of the other things for another stage of your life to develop?  Think long term rather than thinking you have to do it all right now! -Rob Dunn

Saying no is an important life skill, as is saying yes. Saying no should be used wisely.  Pray daily for guidance in making decisions, generally, and in these specific situations.  I often say, let me look at my schedule and I will get back to you; then I take time to think about it seriously, sometimes praying just for help with that decision, then I get back to the person as soon as I can.  I have found that when I can consider it, even for a few minutes, I usually can make an informed decision.  If it is no, let them know in a kind way and move on.  -Rob Dunn

Do not define your value or your worth through your music making. You are more than just a musician; you are more than just the quality of your last performance. Please, get a hobby that you love. You may not have much time to dedicate to it now, but it will pay dividends throughout your life. Of all the professional musicians I know, the ones who only have music in their lives (no other hobbies or interests) are miserable. And they make the musicians around them miserable. So, go outside; ride a bike, ski or run. Get into cooking, painting, or fixing up your car. Just do something that isn’t related to your instrument. Of course, we’re telling you to “practice, practice, practice,” and you should, but you need something else in your life too. -Brian Blanchard

I find I feel the most miserable when I look around to get value cues from comparing myself to others. I will always see strengths in others that I don't have. And I will never see their weaknesses or the things they struggle with. But even if I did, that should not be my measuring stick for myself. I love the reminder of keeping an eye single to the glory of God we find in the scriptures. I keep my focus on Him- His love and my identity as His child determine my worth, rather than determining my worth by looking around me. I also get my instructions from Him, not those around me. He holds the measuring stick for my life rather than measuring myself against others. Look to Him for His love, His mercy, and His counsel. -Erin Bailey

I do not believe striving for perfection is a trap, or something negative in any way. It is fully embedded and encouraged in our beliefs and in our craft. “Be ye therefore perfect…” (Matthew 5:48) is an admonition of Christ. Elder Holland helped us contextualize and contemporize that in his conference address “Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually” (October 2017). This is the perfect advice for musicians at every level. But it takes time.


Pablo Casals, the great cellist, was asked by someone who found out he was still practicing several hours a day well into his 80’s, “Why are you still practicing? Surely after a lifetime of practicing and performing you already know all you need to know.” Casals answered, “Because I’m seeing some real progress.” That is how we should measure our daily, weekly, and semester-long success.


Every musician can set a daily goal to be just a little better—by a measurable and achievable amount. Don’t worry so much about what others are doing, or what you thought you should be doing by now. Rather, just nibble off that daily bite of achievable better-ness. Joseph Smith said he felt like a rough stone rolling, that little by little as he rolled along, the protruding pieces that were out of round were getting smoothed off and polished so that he was becoming a round, smooth ball. That perfectly describes how musicians should face their daily practice.


I strongly urge you all to read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, and Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. These will help you understand high-level success in a better way. But if you give up on pursuing excellence you will never achieve what you should or could, not just in music, but in life. No one ever became all they dream of by settling for whatever happens. Never settle, but for heaven’s sake, cut yourself some slack, and give yourself time, maybe even like Casals into your 80’s, to get there. -Kory Katseanas

Here is one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis - "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit..."

Not only are others with whom we interact every day of our lives destined to be immortals and perfected beings, but we ourselves are also such. -Mark Ammons

For me, this is one of the most important lessons you can learn. Show love, compassion and kindness. It doesn’t matter who, what, or how someone else acts or is. Just love them. Nobody should have to qualify for kindness, it should be offered universally. How do you do it? Just do it. 

Now, specifically about showing compassion for people with those issues, listening is really important. If you can listen to them without trying to fix them, they’ll feel heard and you’ll likely learn what it’s like in their shoes. That will help you develop compassion and empathy. Listening is a great first step. -Jason Bergman

I completely understand this feeling- I didn't face the struggles of perfectionism, comparison, stress, anxiety, etc until I began my senior year when my disinterest in performance began to arise. Before that year, I didn't understand the struggles everyone around me faced. Now having been on both sides of the struggle, I understand how to help others better. The first is to be willing to be a listening ear. Everyone handles their struggles differently and many people need to talk through what they're facing. Having someone willing to listen means more than some may realize. Second, understand that the struggles your peers are facing are real and validate what they're feeling. Therapy teaches us to validate our own and others' feelings and struggles- this applies here. Just doing these two things will make a world of difference. -BYU Student

Be a kind, supportive friend. -Rob Dunn

My husband used to joke that I had a drill sergeant in my brain. He also told me once that he would never let anyone speak to me the way I talk to myself. I had gotten into a bad pattern of using negative self-talk to motivate myself. But I started to believe it. If you are struggling with this, I’d invite you to think of how the spirit speaks and how the Savior speaks. Where do the words in your head sound like they’re coming from? If you’re anything like I used to be, probably not from the Lord. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking and overgeneralizing. Try to be specific and honest about what has occurred. For example, if your lesson did not go how you had hoped, change this self talk- “That was horrible! I’m the worst teacher at BYU. I’m a failure!” to something more true- “My instructions for that lesson were not as clear as I hoped. That caused my students to struggle to be successful with my goal for them today.” Then you can actually target a solution- “For my next lesson, I will practice my instructions three times before it’s due. Maybe I can even get my roommates to let me practice on them.” If you’re just generalizing, there is no solution and there is no improvement. If you can give yourself honest feedback, there is always hope because there’s always something you can do or change! 

Sometimes when I’m feeling really down, I ask Heavenly Father to tell me something He is pleased with about me. That helps me battle the other voice (perhaps Satan’s voice??) that makes me feel discouraged. -Erin Bailey

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