13 Characteristics of High Achievers In Music

characteristics of high achievers in music
CC BY by halseike

Quite frankly, there is a reason why some people are more successful than others.  When you see someone who is doing very well in music, you may feel a little angry or jealous.

What are they doing that you’re not doing?  Do they just have better luck?  No.  They probably just do things a little differently and that’s why you see better results.

Why not take advantage of this learning opportunity and look at what they’re doing?  How they got where they are didn’t happen by accident.  There really is a reason for it.

Instead of getting all mopey and full of self-pity, study some of the characteristics of high achievers in music and decide which ones could use a little tweaking in your life.

1. They believe in themselves.

I actually think this is one of the biggest obstacles for accomplishment.  It’s true in my own life and I see it in others too.

What holds me back most of the time is not a lack of resources or knowledge, but just truly believing that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  Trusting yourself will take you to a higher level.

It unleashes an inner power and opens up the resources around you.  Until I have enough faith in myself to believe I can fulfill something, I will remain blind to my own true potential.

2. They are passionate.

When things get tough, it’s passion that carries us through.  There are many times when I’ve wanted to just quit and give up on the whole “music thing” entirely.

The social stigma of music “not making enough money” to be a true career doesn’t help either.  Every time I’ve felt that I couldn’t go any further and hit a wall, another path has been revealed to me.

Do you know what this says to me? “It’s not over yet.”

There’s always another way, another plan, and another route.  But, why try it?  Why take a risk, go that extra distance, or put myself through the ringer once again to reach that goal?


It’s passion that revitalizes me, reminds me why I love music so much, and gives me the fuel I need to keep going.

If you are passionate about something, you can never truly let it go no matter how many obstacles you face.  It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down or what others have to say about it.

The passion will make you want to keep going until you succeed.

3. They take the initiative.

High achievers don’t wait until their circumstances are perfect or all difficulties are out of the way.  They don’t wait until they feel “motivated” or less fearful.

They take the initiative and they act now.

Taking those first steps builds momentum and pretty soon, moving forward gets a whole lot easier.

If there’s enough momentum, all the problems may take care of themselves leaving you better able to concentrate.

But, it all starts by taking those first steps.

4. They are focused.

Focus is not a natural skill, yet it is essential to anyone who wants to reach their full potential.  It’s focus that brings guidance and direction.  It will lead you to wherever you want to go.

Without focus, you will feel stuck, unable to accomplish much, and maybe even a little lost.  With focus, you will gain clarity and intentionality.

Even though we are not born knowing how to focus well, we can develop this with a little purposeful action.

5. They are prepared.

When you don’t feel prepared, how do you feel?  I always sense a little anxiousness, frustration, and a little embarrassment.

Anything that I hoped wouldn’t happen always ends up happening.  Not being prepared takes me out of position and I usually end up losing.

Being prepared positions you correctly and sets you up for winning.  If you’re not willing to do the initial preparation work, then you might as well step out of the ring right now.

The results you want are not going to just magically happen.

6. They practice.

You compete at the level that you practice.  The more you practice, the more you raise the level in which you can play.

More importantly, the more you know how to practice, the faster you will get there.

Your skills will sharpen and you will start to move beyond the rest of the crowd.  It takes a little discipline, but this is something you can easily develop too…of course, with a little practice.

Successful musicians pay their dues…plus a little bit more.  They understand that it’s worth it to go that extra mile.

7. They persevere.

How do you get from here to there when it really gets tough?  Through perseverance.

When you persevere, you move yourself closer to finishing the race.  The only way to accomplish anything is to keep persevering.

It doesn’t matter how many skills you have or even how much time you have.  What makes the difference is how much “staying power” you have.

Without it, the other things may never become fully developed.

8. They have courage.

Courage is a very ordinary and every day thing.  It’s not just reserved for emergencies, extreme danger, stress, or unavoidable disaster.

It’s true that anything worth doing requires work, but it’s courage that helps us take those next steps.

No matter how much fear you are feeling, tapping into your courage will help you move beyond yourself and take you to the next level.

A person with courage lives a full life with no regrets.

9. They are teachable.

Have you ever met a “know-it-all”?  Someone who feels they have nothing left to learn?  It’s annoying isn’t it?

It’s amazing how blind we can be to ourselves sometimes.  Anyone who truly feels they don’t have any room for improvement will never expand their skills, move beyond where they’re at right now, or even reach their dreams.

Of course, they will always have an excuse for why this is not their fault.

Being teachable is a matter of attitude.  It is the desire to listen, to learn, and then to apply it.  There’s a deep-down hunger to keep discovering and to keep growing.

The most successful people in the world are usually the most teachable people.  They are always striving to learn more.

10. They develop character.

Whatever your character is right now will be your limit.  If you do make it into the limelight, you will probably not remain there for very long.

Why?  Because no one can move beyond the limitations of their own character.

If you have good character, you know there are no shortcuts, that you are not superior to anyone else, and that you should not expect any special privileges.

Things are not always as they appear on the outside no matter how good the outside looks.  If things are not so good on the inside, time will reveal this truth.

Not everything that appears to be successful truly is.

11. They spend time with the right people.

Who you hang around does make a difference.  Whether you want to believe it or not, their influence can rub off on you.

Surround yourself with people who add value to your life and encourage you.  Don’t spend too much time with the naysayers.

If they don’t believe in you, chances are, you won’t either.

Anyone who is constantly trying to pull you down will hinder you from becoming everything you can be.  Don’t give negative people too much of your time or energy.

12. They take responsibility.

When you know that it is up to you and you alone to take responsibility for your own actions, then you are on the right path for success.

No one else can do the work for you.  This is completely up to you.

Responsibility is a choice.  Taking ownership in developing your skills, making decisions, and learning from your mistakes is a choice.

The easiest thing to do is to blame someone else for something that is truly yours to own.  It may divert the attention for a while, but the truth always comes out in the end.

The best thing to do is to own your actions, good or bad, and try every day to make better choices.

As long as you keep trying, you’re never failing.

13. They can work with others.

One of the areas I like to teach my students is how to work well with others in an ensemble group or with an accompanist.

In order to achieve something really big and really wonderful, you have to learn how to work with other people.

Often, this requires humbling yourself, letting go of your pride, or speaking up when you truly need to.  Musicians can sometimes be some of the most arrogant people on the planet and some of the hardest to work with.

But, the best musicians don’t allow their own bad attitudes to get in the way.

So, what do you think?  Are there some areas you would like to work on?

We’ve always got something that could use a little improving.  Becoming aware of this may be your first real step.

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