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How to Create Resilience for the Classical Musician

Use reframing to learn from failures

Years ago when I was introduced to the idea of reframing I believed it to be … bologna.

I had operated under the assumption that there is one Truth, one correct way in which to view not only the world, but also myself. I believed it was my job to uncover that Truth. To excavate through feelings, through experiences, through personality to see what lay beneath and know it.

When I learned that truth exists within a prism where every different angle allows for a slightly (or dramatically) different take on the truth, it felt artificial. Manufactured. Like the fact that I could change the narrative of my situation was a false construct and would cause me to live in a fantasy rather than reality.

The notion of reframing - looking at a situation from a different point of view - could not be any more opposite of what I had once believed.

I’ve come to understand that not only is our ability to reframe a situation vital to our well being, it literally changes our brain chemistry so we can become the resilient, creative humans we were meant to be.

  • It is the only way a musician can take 50+ auditions without loosing hope.

  • Or how we can perform the same piece of music 30 times, each time seeing it with new eyes, hearing it with new ears.

  • Or how we don’t become lost in regret because our life chose a path different from what we had thought we wanted.

  • Or how we prevent ourselves from being disgruntled in our orchestra because management doesn’t handle things the way we want.

When we encounter something we have the power to choose how we perceive it.

Anything we encounter - a broken heart, an unfulfilled dream, a conflict with a colleague - can be shaped by our perspective.

We get to choose.

Not only that, but the way we choose to look at our life right now in all of its beautiful imperfection, teaches our brain about how to look at it tomorrow and a year from now.

This is why tools such as mantras, celebrating small achievements, setting intentions can be so powerful. You are teaching your brain to look at your world from the lens of hope rather than despair. Encouragement rather than disappointment.


Many years ago I took the Clifton Strengths Finders Test. My husband was going through some leadership training and I thought, what the heck? I’ll give it a shot.

Strength 1: Harmony - someone who looks for consensus, doesn’t enjoy conflict, seek areas of agreement.

Strength 2: Restorative - adept at solving problems.

Strength 3: Intellection - introspective

Strength 4: Achiever - have stamina and work hard (hello fellow musicians!)

Strength 5: Adaptability - “go with the flow,” take things as they come.

At that time all I could see was this: a person who had significant challenges within her early years and had to find a way through. Had to survive using the tools a child has at hand.

I sought peace even if it meant harm for me. I solved problems, even if I put myself in the cross hairs of the conflict. I never learned to dream or plan because it took all my strength to get through the day. I worked hard to earn my love and approval.

That much is true, I think. Was true for young Katie.

But I am a grown woman and these strengths are activated in a most beautiful, loving way now. They aren’t symbols of my brokenness as I had once thought. They are the colors in the fabric of a life that I have woven.

They mean that I can love regardless of color or creed or sexual orientation or political affiliation. They mean that I can see through a challenge to the heart of a person and know what they need to move forward. They mean that because I have spent time in my darkness I can empathize with the darkness in others and help them find their way through. It means that I will work hard for the people and things that I care deeply about and that I understand that life is fluid and that I can adapt and thrive.

So much power. From believing that the core of who I was was a person cobbled together from dysfunction to believing that I walk through this world with love and empathy and service.

That, my friends, is the power of reframing.

So. The next time you encounter a challenge or feel like you can’t quite change your perspective I offer you some questions to ask yourself. (These questions were taught to me by the lovely Juiliann Wiese.)

  • What else about this is true for you?

  • What strengths do you know you have that will help you through this challenge?

  • What about this scenario presents itself as growth?

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.


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