Why Beginners Are Winners

by Leon Waters, Nov. 2, 2014

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Here at musicisum, beginners are winners. Taking that first step into the world of music is one of the best things a person can do for themselves. Music is a vibrant, thrilling, and endlessly rewarding art form that brings happiness, pleasure, and pure joy to billions of human beings across the planet.

And now, you’re a part of that world.


Making a commitment to begin something new, positive, and boundlessly healthy is not always easy, however. In our society, it’s a common belief that starting something, standing right at the start of an epic journey, sucks. Words like 'novice', 'amateur', and 'newbie' are not terms of endearment - rather, they're used as insults. To be new at something, to be regarded by others as a novice or newcomer, is considered something to be ashamed of, to put behind you, to work past or through until you're finally accepted and considered “good” at whatever-it-is.

Fortunately, though, there is another way of seeing things.

Simply being aware of the widespread and unquestioned nature of this attitude, this assumption that starting something sucks, can help to negate it, to allow its influence to fracture and fall away, much as a snake sheds its old, useless skin. When an old belief is recognised as being unhelpful, and is discarded, we may finally feel refreshed, more relaxed, and more alive. 

Sounds great, right? 

Absolutely. So let’s get something clear. At musicisum, beginners are winners. And right now, we’re going to dig a little deeper into just why that is.

Throughout life, beginners are shunned and looked down upon for their apparent lack of value. But here’s something many people want to keep secret from you: Being a beginner actually gives you a massive advantage over the experts! Experts may be placed on lofty pedestals, but their minds are often clouded by egotism – the idea that the expert is some kind of all-knowing genius who is absolutely never wrong. While there’s nothing wrong at all with self-confidence, when it tips over into arrogance and one’s judgment becomes clouded then all kinds of mistakes can be made. 

Beginners do not have that problem. Egotistical experts who make mistakes will either never realise (and keep on making mistakes for the rest of their lives); notice the mistakes but live their whole lives in denial (“That didn’t really happen – it couldn’t have, I’m an expert!”); or wake up one day kicking themselves and frantically striving to unlearn a bunch of bad habits. Unlearning is infinitely harder than learning; talk to somebody who’s tried to quit a bad habit, such as smoking, for proof of this. Beginners, on the other hand, expect to make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of being a beginner! And what’s more, making mistakes is a great way to learn. It can be awkward at times, but within every mistake lies a lesson waiting to be learnt.

This is why beginners are winners. A beginner is expected to learn, not to know it all already; a beginner is expected to make mistakes, and is easily forgiven for getting something wrong; a beginner is free of the egotism that cripples so many experts; and a beginner also has the opportunity to cultivate good habits, thus avoiding bad habits that can cause difficulty later on. Identifying yourself as a beginner is not – and should never, ever be – cause for shame, guilt, fear, or anxiety. Rather, it should be – and is – something to be proud of. Consider your status as a beginner as a badge of honour. Respect yourself for starting something.

Now, over time, you, the beginner, will learn things. You will know more. You’ll get to grips with music, feel comfortable playing and performing, and feel like your instrument is an extension of your body, your self, even your heart and soul. This is all great too – but be careful. If you forget what it was like to be a beginner, if you’re too quick to identify yourself as an expert super-genius, and if you let yourself get sucked into the black hole of egotism, you can very easily lose the benefits of being a beginner. 

This cannot be stated loudly enough: You must hold on to the benefits of being a beginner for as long as you play music! Like a cute and adorable puppy, the beginner’s mind and attitude need to be maintained and protected for life, not just at the start of your musical journey. Make sure you create good habits, take things one step at a time, and remember that in music, there’s always a new experience waiting just around the corner. There are more techniques, tricks, styles, genres, scenes, and possibilities in music than any one person could ever hope to understand and master in their lifetime. Lose your beginner’s mind, and you run the risk of getting stuck at some point in the future.

As of now, though, you’re prepared not only to avoid the problems faced by experts everywhere, but also to get around those problems if they do arise. If you ever find yourself getting stuck, just stop for a moment, and remember. Remember how it feels to be a beginner. Remember how it feels to find the light at the end of the tunnel after you learn from a mistake. Remember how fun learning and playing music can be. Remember how to forgive yourself. Remember that as long as you’re a beginner, you are a winner.

And, last but not least, remember to never forget.

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