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An Exercise to Build Resilience

Help for the classical musician after a setback

You’ve decided to take an audition. You’ve sent in your resume and deposit; you’ve made your audition book; you’ve even booked your hotel. You are all in.

Commence 6 weeks of intensive work. Score study, listening to recordings, lessons, hour upon hour of practice. You delay social engagements, even turn down a few gigs, implement a rigorous health plan of eating nourishing food, quality sleep, and exercise.

You are laser focused on the goal. You are putting everything you have into this audition. All your hopes and dreams, your imagination, your work ethic, your training, you passion. Everything.

The day comes. And the day goes.

Sadly, this door closes for you.

Now what?

Believe it or not, you have a choice about how you respond. AND, how you respond will either support you to move forward or shame you into a toxic cycle of misery and disappointment.

We’ve talked a lot about failure and how if you are in the arena, you are going to fail. Having a clear, concrete strategy to implement when the big failures happen (And they will! Because you are brave and you are working to make those dreams come true) is incredibly useful in the development of personal resilience.

Enter the Doors Closed, Doors Open Exercise

(This little bit of magic is inspired by the creators over at

There can be a profound sense of loss when a door is closed. Especially when it is a door that you worked SO HARD to get through. The sacrifices you made, the dreams you dreamed… There is no getting around the fact that it HURTS when you’ve put everything you have into an audition and it doesn’t pan out.

In the space, we have a choice.

  • We can choose to dwell on the door that closed. And, I would like to clarify that there is a difference between dwelling and mourning. We absolutely need to feel our feels when the door closes. It is an imperative piece of moving forward. HOWEVER, once we have appropriately mourned the loss, we can either move forward or stay stuck dwelling on what could have been.

  • We can tune ourselves to other doors that are now opening. This is the way of optimism and resilience. When we take a favorable view of the future, we are able to learn from our past experiences and grow into our next steps as musicians.

Seeing that the end of an audition cycle offers new areas for you to expand into will serve you in the future.

Go ahead and grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Or open a google doc on your computer, or a note taking app on your phone. An exercise like this is best done through writing and not simply through thinking. When we take the time to process through questions on the page or screen our brains are able to make deeper and more lasting connections that support our personal growth and development.

Step One

I want you to write down times that doors were closed for you. Lost audition or competition, never getting into the summer festival of your dreams, getting kicked out of a chamber ensemble. No doubt many experiences will come to mind. Write them all down.

Step Two

Go back to each event and ask yourself - what doors opened after? What would have never happened if the first door hadn’t closed?

  • Maybe you lost the audition but reconnected with a colleague who invited you to sub in their orchestra.

  • Or maybe you discovered that you needed to develop a different strategy to prepare for auditions.

  • Or maybe you took a break from auditioning and your personal life flourished in a way it couldn’t before.

The open doors don’t all need to be related to music. We are whole entire people who don’t function in compartmentalized pieces. Spend some time looking for the doors that came open after and allow yourself to resonate with the truth that life really is beautiful, even after moments of great disappointment.

Step Three

If you’re looking to go even deeper, here are some more questions to consider:

  • What helped you open the new door?

  • How long did it take you to realize that a new door was open?

  • Was it easy or hard for you to realize that a new door was open?

  • What prevented you from seeing the new open door?

  • What can you do next time to recognize the new opportunity sooner?

  • What were the effects of the door closing on you? Did it last long?

  • What does a closed door represent to you now?

  • What did you learn from the door closing?

  • Is there more room for growth from these types of experiences?

Now think of all the people that have helped you open doors in the past. What did they do to help you? And what could you do to help others?


I've created a Free Doors Closed, Doors Open Exercise for you to download and work through when you're feeling discouraged. Taking time to go through an tool like this is such a helpful way to develop resilience. When you can see through your past lived experiences that a closed door does not mean a closed life, you are more able to rebound from a failure and step into the next door that is open.

Your life will be richer, fuller, and happier because of it.

The Doors Closed, Doors Opened Exercise
Download PDF • 27KB

Next Steps and Additional Resources

Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.

  1. First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!

  2. Join the waiting list for my FREE mini-course, How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve and Calm the Heck Down.

Katie Frisco

Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.


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