Staying Inspired with your Music: Methods to Keep You Going

Unlike many other music articles, this one is not going to deal with techniques, theory, or history. This is also not going to be limited to one type of instrument. The information here applies to all conceivable musical instruments: Piano, guitar, horns, drums, you name it. Although this information is aimed at musicians, a lot of this information can be applied in other artistic endeavors and other parts of your life.

Occasionally, regardless of what type of music you play or what your preferred instrument is, you may find yourself looking for inspiration to keep going in your music. Family and work pressures, personal and financial issues, and sometimes just the sameness of your musical routine can dull your edge and tempt you to set down your instrument and walk away for a while. This is where many potentially brilliant musical careers or simply beloved hobbies come to an end. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some tips to keep you inspired.

To Achieve Success, Absorb Success

You undoubtedly have musical heroes who have achieved major success. Choose one. Take some time to listen to their music, but this time listen more deeply. Write down what you find inspiring about their music. If you can, find a biography of or autobiography by the artist. Enjoy the book, paying particular attention to any artistic or technical information you glean from it. Put the headphones back on, and this time, picture yourself playing the music of the artist if you haven’t already done so.

If you are looking for additional success principles, you can pick up books and magazines that inspire success. One example is Success Magazine. Another is The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill. Actively applying success principles will help you in all parts of your life.

Pay Attention to Details

While listening to a piece of music, analyze it more closely than usual. What instruments are being used? What instruments are playing the melody, and what instruments are being used for chords, background, etc.? Are any unusual instruments being played? If you are a more advanced musician, perhaps you can analyze the chord progressions. Play the song over and over and soak in all the detail you can.

Play, Don’t Practice!

Words are powerful, and although they can often mean the same thing, they can have different connotations. If you’re like many musicians, the term “practice” brings up a visual of forced learning of scales, and a feeling of obligation. “Play” is something you do for fun. So don’t practice-PLAY! Chances are, if you stay in a “play-ful” frame of mind, you will be inspired to play longer and eventually better.

Keep Your Friend Close

Here’s something you may notice about good musicians-they almost always have quick access to their instrument. Many beginners carefully put their instrument in its case and put it away for next time. This can be counterproductive. If you have a ready visual of your instrument on a regular basis, you are much more likely to pick it up and play when the mood hits.

The “Music Room”

It’s great to have your own place that inspires you to play. If you can, convert a room or section of your house into a music room. Put a few inspiring posters or prints on the wall, perhaps including portraits of your favorite artists. Keep the area clean and brightly lit. Just seeing it may inspire you to play.
If your instrument is portable, your music room doesn’t even have to be in your house. It can be your back porch, a park, or a campsite. Maybe your church or school has a spare room you can play in. In the end, any place that inspires you can be your music room.

Love to Learn

The learning process is chock full of hills and valleys, mistakes and successes. Learn to embrace the process. You may find that your biggest successes started out as mistakes, but that you learned from them. Never underestimate this process, and try not to get discouraged.

Just a Few Notes

When you walk by your instrument, why not noodle with it for a moment? Allow yourself 5-10 spontaneous minutes to play. Often you’ll find that those 10 minutes extend to 15 minutes, and even hours, simply by getting started. And if you only play for those 5 minutes, that’s fine too. You will still feel like you accomplished something if you do this on a regular basis.

Your Own Cheerleader

This has been touched on before. Be your own best motivator. If you make a mistake, or find a particular piece of music hard to play, stick with it. Take your time and keep at it. You will improve more quickly than you think.

Patience, Patience…

…and did I mention PATIENCE? Many would-be artists get frustrated with themselves and quit playing without ever giving themselves a fair chance to succeed. Maybe you hear your favorite musician and think, “I could never be that good!” Oh, really? Are you sure about that? Or are you just frustrated at the moment?
Consider this: Even those rare child prodigies and other true musical geniuses had to have some starting point. They had to learn the basics of their instrument, such as how to handle it and make basic sounds, then arranging them to sound good. Or, put another way: At some point, they were at the same level you are right now. They believed in themselves and kept at it. If you do the same, you never know where your talent will take you!