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Isaiah Bueno - Success Essay 1st Draft (2)

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Isaiah Bueno
Chris Carroll
ENG 201A
7 September 2023
Achieving Success as a Jazz Pianist Through Growth Mindset, Delayed Gratification, and
As in any field, the path to success is not solely dictated by innate talent, timing, or luck.
Instead, it is driven by a unique combination of behaviors and mindsets that lead to
improvement, excellence, and achievement. As a young jazz pianist, my journey is all about my
dreams, both short and long-term, and concepts such as having a growth mindset, waiting for
rewards, and staying motivated. Success in jazz involves many different components. It's about
being a master at your instrument, expressing yourself through music, performing live, creating
music, and recording it. To get there, I need to be an excellent pianist– this involves honing my
technical skills, understanding intricate music theory, and expanding my improvisational
capabilities. Jazz is more than notes on a page; it is about conveying genuine emotions and
stories through music. So, success means having a unique style that connects with people
emotionally. Live shows are where jazz comes alive. To be successful, you need skills and the
ability to connect with the crowd, groove with other musicians, and make emotions flow with
every note. Creating new music allows for expression within yourself, but not always a
sustainable career. It is vital to tour, teach, collaborate with other musicians, and always stay
listening to new music.
To reach my long-term goals, I strive to reach accomplishment within my short-term
goals. These are the stepping stones to where I want to be in the jazz world. I practice every day,
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doing scales, arpeggios, and jazz standards. This keeps me sharp on the piano. Understanding
jazz theory and being able to improvise smoothly is a must for becoming a great musician.
Playing live whenever possible is crucial for a developing musician. You obtain performance
experience, polish your stage skills, and meet musicians. I also spend time writing original
One of the key scientific behaviors that shape my journey as a jazz pianist is the concept
of a growth mindset, as extensively researched by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. It's about
believing that you can get better at things through hard work and not thinking you're stuck with
the skills you're born with. In jazz, this mindset is a game-changer. It pushes us to always get
better, treating our skills like they're muscles that need a workout. What's cool is how it changes
how we see failing. If you think skills are fixed, you see failing as proof you can't do it. But with
a growth mindset, failure becomes your teacher, helping you get even better. I don't see mistakes
as failures, but as stepping stones to becoming a better musician.
The ability to delay gratification, as illustrated by Walter Mischel's iconic Marshmallow
Test, is another crucial behavioral asset linked to success. The Marshmallow Test offered
children immediate gratification (eating one marshmallow) or delayed gratification (waiting for
two marshmallows). Those who could resist the immediate reward tended to perform better
academically, earn more income later in life, and enjoy better overall well-being. In practice,
where rewards usually take time and hard work to achieve, this is huge. When I practice and try
to get better, it's about thinking long-term. I'm not just after quick wins; I want the grand,
long-lasting rewards that come from sticking with it. I focus on holding off on that immediate
reward to reach a heightened sense of musicality.
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Perseverance, often called "grit," is a cornerstone of success in jazz. Extensive scientific
studies suggest that those who persistently pursue long-term goals, even in the face of setbacks,
are more likely to achieve success. Some researchers even argue that grit can outweigh innate
talent or intelligence as a predictor of success. The connection between grit and performance in
jazz is noticeable throughout history. Legends like Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and Miles
Davis encountered numerous obstacles but persevered, making monumental contributions to the
genre. So, in my practice, when I'm pushing myself to nail a tricky solo or trying new things with
improvisation, I know it's going to be tough, but I'm not quitting. In 1982 The British scientist,
Sir Francis Galton, talked about the connection between working hard and success. He said that
people who are extremely dedicated and work hard are the ones who become successful. That's
my goal as a musician. I know that when things get tough, it's not the end; it's a chance to grow.
To advance a growth mindset and impart these principles to aspiring jazz musicians,
educational programs like "Brainology," as suggested by Carol Dweck, offer a compelling
approach. "Brainology" is all about teaching students that their brains can change and improve
through learning and effort. It encourages students to actively engage in their cognitive
development, supporting a passion for learning, and a belief in the power of hard work. When
applied to jazz, programs like "Brainology" could potentially transform how emerging musicians
learn. By emphasizing that intelligence isn't fixed but can be developed with dedication, these
programs motivate students to tackle challenges and persist even when they face setbacks. They
shift the focus away from relying solely on natural talent and encourage a commitment to growth
and self-improvement, aligning closely with the fundamental aspects of a growth mindset.
In my journey as a musician, these scientifically supported behaviors have played a
pivotal role in guiding me toward success. Whether I'm absorbed in daily practice sessions,
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diving deeper into the intricacies of jazz theory, or immersing myself in live performances, I
embody the essence of a growth mindset. I acknowledge that my abilities are constantly
evolving, and I view failures as stepping stones for growth, each slip-up providing a valuable
learning opportunity.
The concept of delayed gratification allows me to persist through demanding practice
sessions. When faced with obstacles on my musical journey, I persevere, pushing forward in my
pursuit of jazz mastery. Whether I'm navigating intricate improvisations or adapting to the
demands of a live performance, I understand that persistence is the key to surmounting
challenges and realizing my musical ambitions.
As a musician, success means blending artistic expression, technical mastery, and
unwavering determination. It's all about the growth mindset, delaying instant rewards, and
sticking with it, proving the power of these science-backed traits. As Carol Dweck and Walter
Michel have shown, these traits are the roadmap to both short and long-term goals. By constantly
pushing my musical boundaries, facing challenges head-on, and not giving up when things get
tough, I become the embodiment of jazz— a genre that thrives on creativity, improvisation, and
the pursuit of greatness. With programs like "Brainology," I hope to inspire the next generation
of jazz musicians, showing them that success in this field is about intellect and never giving up.
In this symphony of growth, delayed gratification, and grit, I discover my dreams and the soulful
connection jazz brings to audiences worldwide. Success in jazz isn't a finish line; it's a lifelong
journey of artistic exploration and self-improvement, where the music reflects the musician's
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Works Cited
Dweck, Carol S. "Brainology." National Association of Independent Schools, Winter
2008, www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/winter-2008/brainology/.
Hoffeld, David. "3 Scientifically Proven Behaviors That Lead To Success."
FastCompany.com, Fast Company & Inc 2023, 19 Oct. 2015,