I have a strange habit. Or I used to, anyway.

I would find Youtube videos of musicians around my age, and compare my playing to theirs. I didn’t do this to make sure I was better than them. I wanted to see if I could do what they could do.

In some ways this makes sense. You can learn a lot by trying to replicate things other musicians have played. The act of imitating things you like can give you a dimension of control over your playing that you can use to make creative choices later on.

But that’s not really what I was doing. I found people that I thought were “good enough” and compared myself to them, hoping that I too was “good enough.”

Eventually this became the place I would go to tell myself that I was, in fact, definitely not “good enough.”

I would practice for hours a day, making progress in my technical ability and overall musicianship, and then sooner or later I would pull up a video of someone who was very good, but not quite one of the masters, and see how I measured up. And if I didn’t measure up, and I rarely did, then all my hard work was clearly in vain. I would often end this process extremely discouraged and with very little motivation to pick up the instrument again.

I don’t do things like this anymore, and neither should you.

Watch the masters, and imitate the masters. Watch and imitate anyone that makes you excited about picking up the instrument. Anything else is just an elaborate way for you to convince yourself that you aren’t “good enough.”

We should all learn to accept that there’s always someone doing something we wish we could do. We can’t do it all. But if we want to do more then we have to do the things that really help. The comparison game does not help.

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