Part of The Holistic Musician Academy
March 6, 2023

Musicians and Discipline: A Compassionate Perspective

Musicians and Discipline: A Compassionate Perspective

The dreaded word 'discipline' tends to come with connotations that strike a somewhat irritating note in many a musician's heart. I've always thought it has gotten a bad rap and been poorly understood. So when I got a chance to have such a distinguished and versatile musician like Esther to share her lens on it, I had to share it. This is an excerpt from the podcast episode with Esther Rojas which you can listen to here.

Please note that this article has been edited with permission for contextual purposes. 

T.L. :


Is that a word we could unpack a little?

What does it mean? Especially for someone like you, with the degree and depth and versatility which you bring to the table.

Esther :

Well, my concept of discipline has changed a bit.

I used to think of it like a punishment. Or even torture.

But I discovered recently that discipline meant balance for me. I mean, you know that our brains like to stay in the comfort zone. We don't really want to go wake up early and just practice bass for an hour and then go to the gym. No; we’d much rather just stay in bed watching Netflix, right?

So once I observed that, I sarted digging into some neuroscience. And I found  it fascinating. It made me realise that, I might have to push my brain to really step out of my comfort zone if I wanted to achieve something.

But also I understood that I need to be compassionate to myself. And this was a result of knowing myself better, right?

Like this year I went through a process of deeply understanding and getting to know myself intimately. And now I can say, ‘’OK, I'm gonna stay really on my whole discipline thing during the week, and then I really need to disconnect from work’’. From the gym, my practice routines. At least one day in a week.

I really, really needed that time for myself. That’s what mental health is. What physical health is. So now I am balancing my life a lot better.

And that to me is discipline. It’s being consistent, but also giving myself grace to understand and say, ‘’OK, that's enough, I'm going to take a nap’’.

T.L. :


The way I see it, true freedom doesn't really exist without discipline. It’s like the Ying and Yang, the two poles. One doesn't really exist without the other, right?

I also really resonate with the feat of putting ourselves outside our comfort zones.

As paradoxical as it sounds, it feels like true comfort actually comes by befriending discomfort.

Esther :

Yes, actually I was reading the other day that we release these hormones, (like oxytocin and dopamine) when we have a ‘pleasant’ experience. But I’ve noticed that I sometimes need to force myself to do some things that don’t feel pleasing at the time, in order to get there. In order to feel, really, really good…..right? Like, for example, going to the gym. Or really practicing bass for an hour. And then, I know that at the end of that experience, I'm going to feel amazing.

So yeah, discipline and freedom.

T.L. :

Yep, absolutely.

On the flip side, I can say from personal experience, that as tempting as the idea of falling back on the couch with a burger and netflixing the whole evening can seem, (I mean I enjoy that every now and then too!), doing that on on a regular basis never really ends well.




Esther Rojas is a bassist, arranger, educator, and musical director born and raised in Colombia, and now based in LA, US. Her performance style combines different musical influences, making her a multifaceted musician who adapts to any type of repertoire. 


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