After three decades spent playing and teaching bagpipes at every level, I’ve noticed a common trait in the vast majority of pipers.
Most of them are afflicted with what psychologist Dr Carol Dweck calls a 'fixed mindset' when it comes to their piping.
People with a fixed mindset believe their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits. They think they were born with all the ability they will ever have, and thus dread failure or critique, interpreting it as never being able to succeed in the future.
Do any of these sound familiar?
"I started learning when I was too old, so I'll never be any good at piping."
"I'll never be able to blow steadily."
"Tunes take me forever to learn and I can never remember them properly."
Somewhere along the line, most players have forgotten that we got into this to be creative and free, and fixate on the false idea that our skills are limited by who we are and what our circumstances dictate.
Here at the Dojo, our mission is to flip the script for anyone who’s willing to embrace the truth – that a bit of effort applied in the right areas, combined with consistent, regular feedback from the right teachers, and some persistence, can yield incredible results for your piping.
During our Dojo U Discord channel discussion about this concept just this week, a student (thanks Heather!) reminded me of what Dweck calls 'the power of yet' – the idea that if you add 'yet' to any of these defeatist fixed-mindset statements that so many of us resign ourselves to, you can trick your brain into embracing a growth-oriented learning curve.
"I'm not good at piping... yet."
"I can't blow steadily... yet."
"I can't remember tunes... yet."
Can you see how this subtle shift can have a massive impact on your thoughts, approach, and therefore your potential for improvement?
At the Dojo, we work every day with students around the world to encourage them to embrace the 'power of yet' and its potential to help you ‘un-fix’ key aspects of your mindset, and replace them with the proper ‘growth-minded’ approaches.
To that end, I've just launched an exciting new foundational course, 'The 11 Commandments of Mastery'.
Although it's bagpiping-focused, this course is actually the perfect mindset reset to help you master any skill.
The course includes a deep discussion of how the mindset approaches discussed here affect your ability to learn, before exploring the 11 'commandments' I have tried and tested with thousands of students over 30 years at all levels of piping, and truly believe to be the core fundamentals you need in order to achieve true creative freedom on the bagpipes.
As Dojo student Brian, who was an early adopter of the course, remarked this week:
"My previous experience with learning to play the pipes was usually focused around memorizing the notes and embellishments and then trying to get a tune onto the full pipes, at tempo, as quickly as possible. But this course made me really step back and think about the specific ways that I should approach becoming the best player that I can be, and how to do so in deliberate ways each and every day.
"It's just not an approach that I had taken before. I'm only a few days in to working with the commandments mindset, but I already feel that my practice sessions are much more productive and focused. Overall, I think that the commandments approach has me on the right track really improving the quality of my playing."~ Brian Gillespie, Pennsylvania
I'm not kidding when I say that I think this approach is a vital foundation to any improvement on the bagpipes.
In fact, I'll soon be making the course a mandatory prerequisite for all Dojo students before they can resume submitting tune recordings to work through their Bagpipe Freedom phases – which is the core part of our day-to-day teaching at Dojo U.
If you're not currently a Dojo student, you can read more about the 11 Commandments of Mastery course here, and if you'd like to embrace a growth mindset with our community of pipers from around the world, you can enrol via that link too. I hope you'll join us and see how this approach can set you on a path to musical freedom!
If you are a Dojo student, I'd strongly suggest getting a headstart on the course now (it should be the very first course listing when you log in on your homepage, but here's a shortcut anyway). Completing the course and challenges will be a prerequisite to getting feedback on weekly submissions from 1 January 2022 – the challenges take roughly a week each, so starting as soon as you read this would be very wise.