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How to Get Musically Motivated

How to Get Musically Motivated

By Erica Garcia

Every musician has a story of when they felt discouraged by their own lack of improvement, and therefore, felt unmotivated to practice. It is important to remember that progress is not a linear activity. Sometimes you will make bounds of improvements in a short time span, and other times you may be a bit stagnant. Here are a few ways to overcome a period of stagnation in your musical journey and refresh your musical motivation.  

Practice Away from Your Instrument

Sometimes, it feels like you have run into a wall, and your pieces are not improving. This is a good time to gain a more rounded understanding of the music by stepping away from the bounds of your physical music maker. Some great ways to practice without your instrument are as follows: 

  • Listen to recordings (and take notes in your sheet music!)
  • Play with a metronome and clap the rhythms to passages
  • Sing the music
  • Sing the music from memory

All of these activities are wonderful ways to build new mental associations with the pieces. When you add your instrument back into the equation, it will feel more natural to play the pieces due to having a greater realm of knowledge of the piece.  Before you know it, you’ll be back into the swing of things, improving and feeling motivated to tackle the next step.

Back to the Basics: A Technical Approach

A small error in your technique may be hindering your moving forward. A great way to gain perspective in how your playing is to practice your instrument in front of a mirror. This will allow you to visualize what you are physically doing with greater clarity. While doing this, search for things such as bow hold, arm height, and tension in your body. The less tension you hold in your body as you play a string instrument, the more mature your sound will be.

To work on technique, begin by slowly setting yourself up, taking note of how everything in your body feels. Make sure you are standing or sitting up tall, and your feet are flat on the ground. Then, play a slow, full bow on open strings. Make sure the bow is being pulled straight, and the placement is where you desire it. Do this across all four strings. Next, play a scale, making sure that your lefthand fingers have a flexible arch to them. Take note of how your fingers feel. Although you do need to apply weight in order to place your finger into the string, you should not feel like you are squeezing the neck of your instrument. 

By allotting time to isolate your technique, you are providing yourself with a solid foundation to bring to your music making.  Improving technique will certainly spark your motivation because the next level is on the horizon and you’ll be moving forward shortly.

Taking a Break

Sometimes, you may feel unmotivated because you’re physically and musically exhausted. This is especially common for students and professionals in music. While it is important to know when and how to practice, it is equally important to know when and how to take breaks. How long you take a break from your instrument is up to the individual, but taking a few days off can place a lot of aspects of music making into perspective. Additionally, taking more frequent breaks as you practice can afford you a moment of respite in order to be refreshed. Practicing for 20 minutes and then taking a ten-minute break can allow you to make good progress, and then rest and refresh yourself before going back to your work. 


Lack of motivation may occur due to fatigue or stress from one aspect of your life. Take some time to set yourself up for success, and see how that affects your music making. Do some spring cleaning, go for a walk, perhaps even get a haircut. Take care of the tasks you have been putting off. Have a cup of herbal tea and get a good night's sleep. All of these little things will add up, and you will feel ready to attack not only your music but your other endeavors. 

Slumps can be frustrating but you can shake it by following some of these tips. The good news is, slumps are not forever!  By taking some measures, you can leave this period of stagnation in the dust, and be back to your wonderful music making in no time!

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