Joshua Messick | Secrets of the Musical Mind

Subscribe to the Podcast


Joshua-Messick-PromoWhen his four-year-old ears heard the hammered dulcimer for the first time, Joshua Messick turned to his mom and said, “I promise I will learn to play the hammered dulcimer before I am thirty.”

At nine, when he got ahold of a pair of dulcimer hammers and coaxed sound from the strings for the first time, a music teacher asked how long he had been taking lessons. “I haven’t,” he said, still going at it. It’s as if Joshua came into this world equipped with a pre-existing relationship with the hammered dulcimer.

Joshua began arranging music at ten and composing in high school. By the time he was eighteen, he became the 2003 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion.

Joshua is first and foremost a composer, crafting original compositions drawing from Celtic, Classical, and World styles. For those who love more traditional music, he breathes new life into Folk, Hymns, Classical, and traditional favorites.


  • Josh was the featured performer for a Japanese movie called Mary and the Witch's Flower.
  • It's hard to identify what's causing the nerves, but preparing is key to mitigating them.
  • Know the difference between being eager and being anxious.
  • Mimic your performance conditions prior to the performance.
  • Performing on Facebook Live adds an element of performance when you're practicing.
  • Transparency is key to getting people to know, like and trust you.
  • Have freedom to make mistakes.


No specific moment where I felt on my face. But I have been disappointed with my performance. I was way too hard on myself and just didn't enjoy myself. If you're not enjoying yourself, why do it? Nerves often contribute to me simply "surviving" on stage, rather than sharing my gift with others.


  • People want to see passion and confidence, not perfection.
  • Knowing the difference between nerves and anticipation can change your life.


Q: It’s 5 minutes before you go on stage for an important performance… What are you doing?

A: Stretching. A lot of negative emotions are stored in our muscles.

Q: What’s the best performance-related advice you've ever received?

A: Just enjoy yourself.

Q: Can you share one tip for our listeners to help deal with stage fright? (Physical, mental, etc.)

A: Breathe.

Q: What’s a non-musical activity that contributes to your success as a musician?

A: Exercise. Music isn't just an exercise of the mind, it's of the entire body.

Q: Imagine you’re on stage. It’s the end of the performance and the audience is on its feet, applauding. They don’t want any more and they don’t want any less. Everything is perfect. What have you just done?

A: My first concert in Asheville, the place was packed. I had worked so hard to promote it and people loved it. It was so gratifying to see that people enjoyed the music and walk away with a smile!

About the author, James Newcomb

Leave a Comment

The MusicPreneur Mindset
A collection of cool quotes from the podcast