Rebounding from Rejection 5 Ways to Use Painful Rejection to Grow

It’s inevitable that playing music leads us to situations where we are judged or critiqued. The venue can be as simple as a single performance, a rehearsal, a festival, an audition, press reviews, social media comments or countless other platforms.


It’s also inevitable that we experience the highs associated with praise and the lows associated with rejection. The highs can derail us in many ways. Being rejected can sting. Depending on where we are in life and music, it can even make us to want to give up completely.

When looking back at my personal development in music as well as my students’, there is a strong trend that can trace extended periods of growth and improvement to a moment of rejection. The rejection is never fun… It’s actually pretty painful sometimes. But in the end, the rejection and the feelings associated with it doesn’t matter. What we do with it does matter.

We always have a choice to make: Is this moment of rejection the end or the beginning?

When we don’t land a gig or get a scholarship, it’s a one-time opportunity that may never come around again. It can feel very final – especially in that moment. But it also could be the beginning of renewed self-awareness, focus, passion and intensity that opens doors in the future.

Here are some ways we can look at rejection as a beginning:

  • Listen: With rejection usually comes some sort of feedback. If it doesn’t, ask for it. Find out specific things that didn’t resonate with the intended audience.
  • Consider the Source: If the feedback has nothing to do with music or is personal in tone, maybe it’s more about the source of the feedback rather than you. It’s easy to take any rejection personally. So we shouldn’t rush to this conclusion. However, after going through this list and this becomes apparent, it may be best to move on and not put too much energy into the situation.
  • Consult Your Inner Circle: Work with a teacher or trusted collaborators to have a productive conversation and plan regarding the feedback given. If everyone quickly jumps to disagree with the feedback and the source seems legit, maybe it’s time to find a new teacher or members of your inner circle so they don’t take things personally. This isn’t about right or wrong, it’s simply about growth. Surround yourself with people who want to see you grow and grow with you.
  • Put Our Ego on Hold: Embracing the idea that we have a lot to learn and viewing the person rejecting you as someone who is trying to help you grow will have us feeling more positive about the situation. Looking at them from a position of openness rather than an adversary is important. We don’t have to like them, just learn from them. We also must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge things we could have done better. If you don’t see how you could have done better, consult your inner circle. If your inner circle can’t see how you could have done any better, find some people who see more potential in you.
  • Transcend: Use all the information you gathered from the list above and become so amazing that you will transcend the kind of rejection you experienced the last time around. The rejection will find you again, but the more you use it to grow – the less you will be effected by it personally and emotionally. It will become fuel and motivation to reach new heights. I always tell my students getting ready for big auditions, “Be so amazing that they have to acknowledge what you’re doing even if they don’t agree with it… If you have a plan and execute it beautifully, then people will appreciate it.”

Rejection is never fun. But what we do after can lead to many cool beginnings. For a related post, here is one on adopting a “growth” approach to learning.