May 1, 2012

Last week, in a lesson, I told a student that I knew she could play the piece in question great.  But the look I got back from her reminded me of the second hardest part of teaching:

There are times where the teacher has more belief in the student than the student has in her/himself.

As I think back to when I was in school, the one thing I never lacked was belief.  And it played an enormous part in my growth.  When I was in high school listening to records, my thought was “I want to sound like that.”  That’s what drove my practice.  When I was in college and starting to think about what gigs I’d want, I thought big.  After all, someone has to get that gig.  Why not me?

Too often, students are encouraged to play it safe.  As hard as it can be to have the success you dream about, it’s even harder while playing it safe.

Which brings me back to belief.  It’s a very difficult concept to teach.  Try this:  picture a player that you admire.  Now you need to know that that player was once a beginner.  That player was not born playing at a world class level.  That player had to learn fundamentals and music just like everyone else.  And on the first day of playing did not sound like a professional.  So if that player can do it, why not you?

Not every player comes from the same background.  Every story is unique.  You don’t have to be from a certain part of the country, study with a certain teacher, or attend a certain college.  Not every player is on the same clock.  Some have success very young, while others have success later in life.

And success can mean different things.  A lot of trumpet players I went to college with wanted to play in an orchestra full time (and a lot of them are doing exactly that!), but I never wanted that.  Does that make me wrong?  No! (like I’d ever admit I was wrong…)

So here’s what I need for you to do:

  1. Dream big.  Think of what you want to do, not what you’d settle for.
  2. Realize that someone gets to do that, so it could be you.
  3. Get working, because it’s unlikely anyone is just going to hand it to you.  You need to earn it.

But most importantly, believe in the possibility.  Like most things, this becomes a logic problem for me.  So follow me here:

  • If you don’t believe, your chances of success are virtually zero.
  • If you believe, your chances are now higher than zero just based on the acceptance of the possibility of success.

I’m not saying that if you believe, success is guaranteed.  There are no guarantees.

What I am saying is your best chance for having your dream career lies within you and your belief that it is possible.



  1. Fantastic post, Joey.

  2. PREACHER! I always tell my students, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!”

  3. Got some students to send this to, Joey. Well said.

  4. Nailed it again Joey!

  5. sounds just like what l have told my hundreds of dance students over the past 35 years! “If you can see it, You can do it!”

  6. Love it!

  7. Fantastic read. Thanks! Always encouraging to see this from IU profs!

  8. Great post Joey. Thanks.

  9. Thanks Joey! Showing to my students!

  10. You have much wisdom, grasshoppah.

  11. Yeah!!!! Great thoughts, Joey – thanks for this.

  12. Nice

  13. Thank you, JoeyTartell. Needed this.

  14. Great reminder for everyone! Thanks for posting!

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