I walked onto campus last night to begin my work at Lewis & Clark College. As I met with the new collegiate orchestra players, I felt the memories from my own college years come flooding back, the good the bad, and definitely the pizza.

We have so many memories stored within. What’s the best thing to do with them? Use or ignore?

We certainly don’t want to live in the past. But there are huge benefits to tapping into your most powerful memories—the ones that propelled you into your current state of success.

Should we be democratic with our memories?

Is it good to also remember the bad? Absolutely not, unless it serves as a necessary warning to not repeat an action. For instance, how beneficial is it to remember a horrible audition or flawed performance? Do you really want your brain to say “remember what happened the last time you botched this piece?”

For some it gets so bad that looking back only brings misery.

It’s tempting to burn the past.

But don’t.

Not completely.

Because amongst all the rubbish lies the moments that worked. The heroic minutes of success, of inspiration, of magic.

These core memories will give you the courage you need to succeed in this day and age, where success means something way different than it did even 15 years ago.

So here’s what I’d like you to do:

First, write in as much detail as possible about your most joyful musical experiences. Every musician has had some experience with music that has taken them to a place of transcendence. Write with so much attention that you begin to feel the joy seeping back into your bones. Bring that first love of music back into tangible focus. These memories have power. They exist to remind you that your greatness is attainable.

As you feel the energy of your heart expand, pin it open to stay expansive—to bring into today’s practice and performance that beautiful mixture of vulnerability, confidence, and most of all, joy.

Second, remember the most profound moments of your life in which you felt the greatest love, joy, freedom, or presence of something greater than yourself—not necessarily from music. Once again, recount with greatest possible detail. Remind yourself that higher states of awareness and consciousness do exist. These memories point us to where we want to go.

My index card

Finally, from these memories create a list of 10 words which describe these moments best. Write the words on an index card to remind you that these states are not unattainable or imaginary. They are your highest potential to experience again and again. Even daily.

Carry it with you.

Leverage Your Powerful Memories to Enhance Today’s Practice and Performance

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