The Abundance Mentality

“If you want to be creative, get out there and do it.”
–Michael Giacchino, composer

Almost all of the ambitious music students I meet share two common concerns.

They wonder, “Do I have what it takes?” And, “Will I be able to earn a living in music?”

I propose that, for the students I encounter, the answer to both questions is: yes!

Regarding that first question, as I see it, all of us have the potential to make music at some level and add beauty to the world. By practicing intelligently, we expand our skills and debunk the notion that innate talent rules our destiny.

As for the second concern, in The Musician’s Way, I wrote, “Diverse careers are available to musicians because people worldwide consume huge amounts of music-related products and services every day” (p. 300).

Opportunities Abound
That’s not to say that every student can become a star. Of course not – our innate abilities differ. Nor do I claim that it’s easy to forge a music career.

But when we pursue our love of music with open minds and solid work ethics, we find the niches where our interests and abilities intersect with opportunities in our industry.

In fact, most of us working musicians don’t stay on narrow career tracks but branch out to contribute in various ways through performance, education, conducting, management, production, writing, and so forth.

The Abundance Mentality
So, rather than letting concerns over scarcities of talent or employment undercut your passion, I invite you to embrace an abundance mentality: Trust in yourself and your potential to grow, commit to your musical work, and create abundantly.

Composer Michael Giacchino echoed this sentiment in his March 2010 acceptance speech at the Oscars (he won best original score for his work on the film Up):

Never once in my life did my parents ever say, “What you’re doing is a waste of time.” I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me what you’re doing is not a waste of time.

. . . I know there are kids out there that don’t have that support system, so if you’re out there and you’re listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it; it’s not a waste of time. Do it. Okay? Thank you.

Is it easy to keep abundance in mind? Not always, because we have to believe in ourselves, stay current with our industry, and work productively day after day.

Here, then, are practical strategies that help performing musicians fuel their sense of artistic and economic abundance.

Artistic Abundance
1. Build a large repertoire of inspiring material that you can perform easily
2. Customize your practice schedule and learn your music deeply
3. Access expert coaching and collaborate with other musicians
4. Fire up your motivation and follow your heart, yet safeguard your health
5. Get started every day

Economic Abundance
1. Draft a broad career plan and artistic vision
2. Learn about the music industry
3. Build up professional skills and seek out a mentor (see the Music Careers page at
4. Network via the web and at festivals and local events
5. Fill many niches and diversify your abilities – see p. 304-305 of The Musician’s Way.

Along with the creativity-boosting strategies in The Musician’s Way, see my online course 10 Steps to Lifelong Creativity.

Related posts
Embracing the Unknown
The Growth Mindset

Mindful Musicianship
Ten Tips for Ongoing Creativity

© 2010 Gerald Klickstein

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8 Responses to “The Abundance Mentality”

  1. Bradley said:

    Jul 06, 10 at 22:45

    Thank you Prof. Klickstein for all of your writings on the subject of music and this post in particular. I read your book last year, my first year in Western Washington University’s Classical Guitar department and was immediately impressed and moved by your positive messages and guidance for anxiety ridden young student musicians. I soon recommended to every person I encountered in the Music program and the head of the Music Department and Guitar Department here at WWU.

    This post in particular helped me because I found it during a week of self-doubt, where I questioned whether or not I would be able to support myself with my BMUS degree. This post not only raised me back to my previously confident self, but also solidified my motivation to keep moving forward in my musical studies, knowing now that my diversified approach to music will make it able to support myself, and most importantly, will continually make me happy. So thank you once again, and keep posting! You never know that even just a few positive words might keep student musician going and working towards his or her lifelong goals.

  2. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Jul 07, 10 at 12:08

    Thanks Bradley for the heartfelt, appreciative words. I’m gratified to know that my work has been a positive force in your life, and I encourage you to stay the course.

    See my post “Music: The practical career?” for added career-building pointers:

    And thanks for spreading the word about the self-empowering messages contained in The Musician’s Way.

  3. Catherine Barnes said:

    Aug 07, 10 at 01:49

    I particularly loved this entry…I wrote a massive response to it on my own blog, which I linked to above as my website.

    Thank you so much for your posts…they are truly inspired.

  4. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Aug 07, 10 at 08:56

    Thank you, Catherine – I’m grateful for your support.
    Abundance truly is all around us – it’s there for the taking. Even during slow economic times, people remain hungry for music. Plus, recent advances on the Internet and with new technologies have placed massive audiences within the reach of any performer or teacher.

  5. Mark Powers said:

    Sep 30, 10 at 23:08

    Hey, Gerald! Catherine Barnes just turned me on to your great site here. I couldn’t agree with all of this more- kudos to you for writing this excellent post, and for providing so many useful action steps. Look forward to reading much more from you!

  6. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Sep 30, 10 at 23:44

    Thanks for the positive words, Mark – much appreciated!

  7. Lynne said:

    Mar 17, 12 at 01:13

    I have never ever seen such a treasure chest of valuable, right – to – the – heart – of – the – matter information and advice. Please know how much this ardent amateur musician appreciates your words.

  8. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Mar 17, 12 at 08:48

    Thanks, Lynne – that’s very gratifying to hear. I hope you’ll visit and contribute often.