These exercises can take you out of your comfort zone and force you to face your fears. Three of the most common fears are fear of failure, fear of success and fear of the unknown (insert your own favorite spooky sound effect here).


The fear of failure is tied to fears that others will laugh at you or make fun of you. In these instances, it’s often helpful to consider the source. Many of the people who laugh at you are the ones you’ll be passing on your way to a higher chair or a job they want. It’s much easier for them to try to push you down than pull themselves up.  Other times, it is merely that you feel that how you play is directly tied to your worth as a person. Erase that notion from your mind. Without trying to sound too “Susie Sunshine” about it, each person is unique and each musician is unique. What you have to say is as valid as any musician who has gone before you. Take pride in the knowledge that if you don’t sound so hot today, it’s because you’re spending your time on the things you can’t do, in an effort to become better able to express yourself through your instrument tomorrow.


Fear of failure and fear of success are two sides of the same coin. The fear of success may sound silly at first, since we practice to get better. However, we sometimes sabotage ourselves or fail to put in full effort because of fear. It could be that if we advance in band or orchestra, we may have to play a solo or we may have to make bowing decisions or we may have to take a leadership role in the ensemble. We find it easier to hit cruise control and stay comfortably in the back of the ensemble. Depending on your motivators, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. If the only reason you are in music is because it is fun and is a great social outlet for you, great!


Sometimes our fears come not knowing the outcome. When we play our instruments, we make ourselves vulnerable to whoever can hear us. “They” could judge us. “They” could make fun of us. “They” could think we’re better than we know we are and ask us to do other uncomfortable stuff, like playing harder music or play a solo. “They” are scary! Who knows what “they” might do next? “They” have no idea how I feel about this. That’s what we normally think. Until we realize that “they” are us. (HUH?) Yes, the “they” we often label with all this awful scary stuff, are just our nervous thoughts. There is no “they” out to get you. Check under your bed right now if you don’t believe me. Realize that fear is a part of growing and work through it. Most of the time, the things you were afraid “they” would do, never end up happening and we’ve lost a whole bunch of time and possibly some missed opportunities, just because we said “they” could have the power over us. DON’T GIVE IT TO “THEM!”


from “Music Practice Coach,”

About the Author

LANCE LADUKE is internationally known as an educator, performer and creator. He teaches at Carnegie Mellon University as Artist Lecturer in Euphonium, Freshman Advisor and Coordinator of Special and Creative Projects. Lance teaches business, marketing and communications as part of the CMU Music Entrepreneurship Program, coaches and mentors a variety of chamber ensembles and is also Adjunct Professor of Euphonium at Duquesne University. Lance was a member of Boston Brass and the US Air Force Band in Washington DC, has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and currently plays with the River City Brass. He has taught and/or given master classes at some of the world’s finest conservatories, including Juilliard, the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Lance co-wrote and produced “Band Blast Off,” a highly successful band recruiting DVD and maintains an active speaking career, sharing his thoughts on practice, leadership, and self-development. His wildly successful book, “Music Practice Coach, Five Workouts to Get the Most Out of Your Practice Time!” is available as a free PDF at Lance is an Educational Ambassador for Jupiter Band Instruments.

The content of this Blog article or Banded Story is the intellectual property of the author(s) and cannot be duplicated without the permission of KHS America and/or the author(s). Standard copyright rules apply.