How to Fix "I CAN'T"


I think I’ve told you before, I get pretty nervous when I perform. Now I did OK at the craft mall and the Butterfly Palace in Branson where I played 6 to 8 hours a day. While I was playing, people were walking around, and only a few sat down and really focused their undivided attention on what I was doing. But put me in front of a crowd to do a solo and my hammers start shaking.

This goes back to my childhood. My grandmother was a concert pianist who even played for Queen Elizabeth. My mother expected performances worthy of Queen E. And during my first marriage, my husband was a pastor and I was the organist and choir director. I always played solos during the offering, communion, and other prayerful moments. When we would get home, my husband’s familiar comment was, “Can’t you ever play through something without making a mistake?” And that just made the problem worse. I began to think, “I can’t do this.”

You may relate. But here’s the truth. My mind is the REAL battlefield. As long as I tell myself I can’t do it, I can’t. As long as I expect to mess up, I’m going to mess up. As long as my self-talk insists that I still haven’t practiced enough to play for others, I surely haven’t.

I may not ever be as good as I want to be. I may continue to make a mistake now and then. But I CAN do this. I can play smoothly and if there’s a hitch in my playing, I know enough theory to cover it up as a planned embellishment. But I have to stop the ongoing negative self-talk in my head. It’s holding me back.

How about you? What are you telling yourself?

Happy dulcimering,



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