Moving Beyond the Inner Critic


Learning to listen to the right voice

—by Rebecca Harrisson

Rebecca Harrisson is a Michigan native who now resides near Oslo, Norway, with her husband, folk singer David Harrisson. She is a freelance writer, harpist, and storyteller. Visit her website at

“You can be anything you want to be,” the teachers at school promised. “If you work hard enough you could have a musical career,” my piano teacher said. Carefully I mapped out the repertoire I planned to learn, the prizes I would win, the orchestras I would play with as a soloist. I thought this map combined with hundreds of practice hours was my way to becoming the perfect concert pianist.

An ever-stronger critical voice accompanied my musical development. You were 1/8 of a beat too early, you didn’t practice that fingering enough so you’ve failed, you haven’t learned that sonata fast enough. You’re never good enough. My teenage self believed perfection could be obtained, if only I tried hard enough and ruthlessly kicked myself when I failed.

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