Auditions, deadlines, and priorities can often generate a load of musical stress. It sometimes seems like the best idea is to sit in the practice room and play through that crazy-fast riff over and over again until it's perfect. If we do it enough, we’ll eventually get it down, right? Perfect practice makes perfect? Not always. These stressors can certainly lead to the musician's slump: when you can’t even look at your music without cringing. Here are some tips to encourage you to reignite the passion for your music.
1. Mindful practice
When I was working on my music degree, I can’t tell you how many times I would sit in the practice room for hours attempting to play something perfectly. Often I felt like I wasn’t doing enough work if I was practicing less than two hours a day. But it wasn’t until I started to injure myself that I realized I was not practicing mindfully.
Whether you're practicing for 20 minutes or two hours, it's so important to practice in a mentally and physically healthy manner. It's as simple as taking a break. The second you start to get frustrated, take a big step back.
My go-to advice for a great practice session? Set a 10-minute timer and practice a phrase. Once the alarm goes off, take a rest for five minutes. Repeat the process for the rest of your designated practice time. The resting time is great for reflecting on mistakes, improvements, and a little relaxation. It relieves the stress on your body as well as your mind.
2. Between the business, have some fun
When you’ve got a bunch of different deadlines and projects going on at one time, it seems like you can’t let your focus break. You’ve got your eyes on the prize and a thousand different ideas. But the constant, high-intensity work is definitely draining your creativity.
The solution? Be a goof. Break out your instrument, hardware, or software and just have some fun. Does the resulting music not sound pleasant at all? Great! Isn’t really all that original? No worries. When you take away the pressure of your deadline, writer’s block, or whatever may be causing that stress, that's when you can let your inhibitions run free. Some of the best melodies and beats I’ve created have come from when I was goofing off with my friends at the piano. Don’t ever be afraid to forget the “rules,” because that’s when the magic happens.
3. Go exploring
With the whole world at our fingertips with one click, finding new music is one of the most entertaining and exciting activities. Drawing inspiration from music you have never laid your ears on is just one method to get those gears moving again. Some great places to going exploring for music are Hype Machine, Musicroamer, and The Music Ninja.
Always go explore your local music scene as well! There might be an artist in your town who's doing something really different that can inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone.
Rachel Bresnahan is an editorial intern at Sonicbids.