THE FLUTE NERD blog

Recognise Fixed Mindsets in Your Flute Practice

Recognising fixed mindsets when they come up in our flute practice is the first step to having more confidence in our playing!

One of the things that I am constantly surprised by is the sheer amount of self-limiting things we tell ourselves in the practice room and beyond. I find myself regularly having to check these thoughts (I’ll never get this right, I’m so bad at this scale, etc) and sometimes I feel half my job as a teacher is helping my flute students recognise these nonconstructive thoughts in their own practice.

Fixed mindsets

The first step to reframing your self-limiting thoughts is to recognise them. So what is a fixed mindset? It is when an individual believes that they are inherently ‘bad’ at something, or that their abilities/talents/intelligence are ‘fixed’ or unchangeable.

“I’m not musical.”
“I’m too old to learn a new instrument”
“I can’t play that piece.”
“I always struggle with rhythm.”
“The flute is too hard for me.”
“I don’t want to play in front of those people! They’ll judge my playing!”
“I’m never going to be good enough.”
“That other flute player is so much better than I’ll ever be.”

Do any of these sound familiar? These thoughts are filled with comparison and judgement!

Aim instead for growth mindsets

This negative thinking in our flute practice is exhausting. And rightly so: why should we practice if we’re never going to get better. That would just be wasted time, right?

But surely we can all recognise that practice is about getting better, even a tiny bit, every time we get our flute out.

So instead, we only need to reframe our thoughts slightly into what is called a growth mindset. What is a growth mindset? This is an approach to thinking that recognises that it takes work to succeed, that success if always possible with time and effort, and that our creative powers are not limited and are always developing.

We have the power to change. What an amazing thought that is!

OK, but how do we change a fixed mindset?

Let’s take some of the above examples of fixed mindsets to see how we might reframe them more constructively.

I’m not musical
“I don’t have a lot of experience with music, but with practice and patience I can learn”

I’m too old to learn a new instrument
“With practice, determination and persistence, I can still learn new skills like how to play the flute”

I always struggle with rhythm/scales/tone…
“I can learn to be better at any skill with practice, time and effort.”

I can’t play that piece.
“I can’t play this piece yet, but I’m working on it.”

I’m never going to be good enough.
“I can always learn more and refine my skills and flute playing.”

Challenges are opportunities!

Growth mindsets are all about reframing how we think about our challenges. They are not roadblocks to our progress, but opportunities. They are chances for us to grow as musicians, flute players and people.

Growth mindsets are about seeing challenges as opportunities, not obstacles.

What a wonderful idea. We are always learning, changing and growing. Progress takes time and practice, but it is ALWAYS possible.

What fixed mindsets are you going to change?

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