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The Grit Pie Exercise

A simple way to develop your growth mindset as a musician

*Welcome to The Musician's Mindset! I'm Katie, a certified life coach and flutist who helps musicians overcome performance anxiety and bring their best selves to the stage. I would love to talk to hear your stories about being a musician and what happens for you on stage. Click HERE and we’ll find some time to chat!*

One of the things we do here at The Musician’s Mindset is learn how to identify our thoughts and, in many cases, challenge them. We are becoming aware of ways that our brains have kept us safe in the past - often times by encouraging us to take fewer risks - and rewiring that internal narrative to better support our work as artists now.

Today I’m sharing an exercise designed to support the construction of a growth mindset. A growth mindset will allow you to try new and sometimes scary things, view failure as an opportunity, and embrace the truth that being human means that we are continually in process.

The Grit Pie Exercise

*brought to us from the fine folks over at

In this exercise, we explore the potential causes of a problem or failure, where the responsibility falls for the problem and simple strategies to improve the errors for the future. Imagine that the pie is the problem and each slice of the pie is a potential cause of the problem.

Problem: I did not advance at the audition

Potential Causes:

  • I didn’t work hard enough.

  • The airline lost my bags so I didn’t sleep well.

  • The audition was disorganized and I didn’t have adequate time in the warm-up room

  • I’m not good enough.

  • My hands were shaking.

Is the cause permanent or temporary?

  • I didn’t work hard enough Temporary

  • The airline lost my bags Temporary

  • Audition was disorganized Temporary

  • I’m not good enough Temporary

  • My hands were shaking Temporary

Who is responsible for the cause?

  • I didn’t work hard enough Me

  • The airline lost my bag Others

  • Audition was disorganized Others

  • I’m not good enough Me

  • My hands were shaking Me

As we work through this exercise, it becomes clear that all of the potential reasons that we didn’t advance are temporary reasons. They are not fixed. The causes are either specific to that particular audition OR are areas of growth that we can work through in our playing, effort, or mindset.

While it may seem like the blame for an audition always falls on us, in fact, there are other factors at play that influence how well we perform. That can be helpful information as we process the loss.

What do we do with the information in our Grit Pie Exercise?

  1. We create contingencies for causes that were out of our control. For the next audition, we may decide to carry our luggage on the plane or spend extra time warming up in the hotel room rather than at the audition site.

  2. We learn from the causes we are responsible for and put new strategies in place when preparing for the next audition. Perhaps we create a more rigorous and structured audition prep routine. We can implement daily mindset strategies like visulaization, capturing negative thoughts, and morning pages to actively manage the fear and allow our nervous system to remain calm(er) in the audition. Or, we can question and explore where we find our value and worth so that we can walk on stage full of confidence and excitement.

As musicians, we spend most of our time preparing for the goal. This exercise creates space to assess and process what actually happened in the performance. It allows us to think through specific ways we can change and grow so that the next iteration will be a little more successful.

I’m attaching a blank Grit Pie Exercise Worksheet for you to use after your next big performance. Or… print it out today and think back on your most recent self-talk and use this process to evaluate your thoughts and develop a mindset of growth!

Grit Pie Exercise
Download PDF • 258KB

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 our free mailing list. You'll receive weekly encouragement every Sunday!

  3. Schedule your call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.

Katie Frisco

Katie is a certified life coach 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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