The third in a series looking at the most essential mental habits to practise at the piano that will give you the quickest and most profound progress. These are the things I refer to constantly when I’m teaching, and covers aspects of musicianship that almost all teachers consider unteachable- considered to be innate qualities in talented students. But I can show you how to develop this natural musicianship. I think we can all struggle with this third skill at times, and it’s for this reason that we really need to work on it as much as possible, and will make a massive difference to the quality of your playing and performing

Show Notes

  • [0:45] Exploring some of our most common psychological challenges as musicians: fear of not being good enough, self-criticism, fear of negative judgement, etc. Exploring how they feel in the body. How they affect our playing and practice
  • [6:45] Comparing ourselves to other people, and giving away our power to other people so they can make us feel inadequate
  • [8:30] The #3 skill: practising the felt physical sensations and mental attitude that everything we do is fundamentally good enough. It’s not enough to just think this in words, we need to feel it in our bodies
  • [13:15] Usually first step to mastering a psychological issue that is giving us problems is to develop a curiosity & acceptance towards it, rather than immediately trying to push it away or repress it. Recognising that we all share feelings of ‘not good enough’- it’s normal!
  • [18:15] A useful exercise for dealing with our inner critic telling us we’re not good enough
  • [22:40] Explore why we are making music. Surely the deepest reason for music-making is for the feeling of connection. Good musicianship has the drive for connection at its core. But this quality in our playing can be disrupted by the strong psychological need to feel competent. Good technique is much easier to cultivate when its function is to serve the feeling of connection
  • [29:20] Practising a feeling of ‘good enough’ helps us to develop a healthy focus on musical connection rather than a compulsive and unmusical over-emphasis on proving our competence and self-worth. Paradoxically, it then becomes much easier to address technical deficiencies and challenges and reach more of our potential
  • [30:20] Why ‘good enough’ is not the same as a lazy casual ‘yeah, whatever, that’ll do’
  • [31:30] ‘Good enough’ as an antidote to the harmful effects of perfectionism
  • [33:45] We have to feel rebellious to cultivate a feeling of ‘good enough’
  • [34:35] To practise this skill in a practical way, start with mindful intention- write it down on a post-it note, and stick it on the piano in front of you!
  • [35:25] Making music is the birthright of every human being- but Western culture can send the message that making music is only for ‘good musicians’
  • [36:55] A brief taster of Kristen Neff’s academic work on self-compassion and how her work includes solid strategies and skills for developing the feeling of ‘good enough’. To be continued in future podcast episodes…


The podcast episode where me & Cheryl discuss Self-Determination Theory, and the opposite pull between the psychological needs of connection vs. competency:

My YouTube channel:

Kristen Neff’s website on self-compassion that I read passages from in this episode:
and Kristen Neff’s excellent books:

The intro/outro music is my jazz arrangement of the Rachmaninov Adagio from Symphony #2, you can watch the whole thing here if you like:

I have availability for online students at the moment- if you’re interested, do get in touch using the contact page at