The Power of Expectations

Today I had a bad performance experience. Every week at APSU we hold a guitar performance class — each guitar student plays for the others. I went in not knowing what I was going to play and not knowing how it would go. After a fairly mediocre performance, I left frustrated: my nervousness and lack of clear outcome expectations had sabotaged my performance.

When thinking over the performance later, I realized that I treat performance class very differently from a recital. I prepare well for recitals, and I feel confident walking on stage. I don’t just choose pieces off the cuff like I do in performance class. I’m also always sure that the recital is going to go well, not so for performance class.

Expectations Rule

Ever had a day where you made a mistake thought to yourself, “I sound terrible, nothing is working,” and that turns into the truth very quickly? That’s an expectation. And it’s powerful. That thought is charged with an emotional frustration and leads to other thoughts and doubts, quickly destroying any chance of a good performance or practice session.

Never go into a performance or practice session with poor expectations because it’s sure to go bad. Even if you don’t feel confident, tell yourself you are and fake it.

Something I learned today the hard way, and something I wish I would have figured out last year.

Posted on in Guitar Performance Tips


  • Bobber

    Hang in there Chris. It sounds like you have really used this experience and are going to learn and grow from it. Good for you!

  • Dan

    To paraphrase Neal Donald Walsh, “In Fear we expect. In love we accept”