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How to get motivated (when not)

posted on #1
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Many of us can be frustrated with our playing and at times discouraged. While it would be nice to think that the challenges and music here could help overcome those problems, it may not be enough. Could you share any techniques/ideas you have for overcoming your doubts and off peak times. Maybe just how to get past a plateau in your playing?

Having contact with other musicians about these sorts of things can have several benefits: 1. you're not alone in having this problem. 2. Someone else may have figured out a method that suits you.
posted on #2
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Hi Wade! I find this question quite intriguing, as i'm currently in a dry spell creatively speaking :( In the past i have used a few different techniques that has worked for me, one being putting away my instruments for a period of time, focusing on totally different things until inspiration and motivation hits me :D This seems to work, but for me it can be hard to stay away as i feel the need to create most of the time :p

I have also tried "forced creativity" - as in just pushing through until something good comes out....rarely works and can be real tiresome :p

Lately i've been trying to play different styles than i normally do, which seems to work, at least a little :D

Would be nice to hear about other peoples experiences on this :)
Edited by eGiL on February 24 2017 08:39
posted on #3
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Good subject Wade. Very very good!! For me, leaving the guitar for a week or two seems to do the trick. Although I have to be careful, a few years ago I did that and 20 years passed before I took it up agan :O However, what I started to do in the past months: rather than recording new songs, which does require a lot of time and effort and thought and creativity, I just put on one of my favourite backing tracks and just jam along for an hour or two. I find that when I am not recording and having to make sure I don't make mistakes, or having to be "interesting", it is much more enoyable, and many times after I do that I get a lot of ideas that I then use for a recording session. SO basically not worriying about it, just jamming along a nice groovy song (or whatever is your thing) will get you in a positive mindset.
posted on #4
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Wade, your interesting questition needs a book to answer it completely.

First, "frustration" is not an emotion but a decision. You'll understand this idea if you accept that love is no emotion, too. It is a daily decision.
If someone is a believer he needs a daily decision, too.

Overriding frustration is easy to do: Do the contrary of the right things.
If you have no motivation to learn something, take a kitchen clock and let it ring after 15 minutes because you are NOT ALLOWED to learn longer...

In a musical context do the right exercices in the right order. To leave a plateau, identify your key exercise.

But to be honest, I have never met any musician in real life who said loudly to me that he is unhappy with his skills. The real wonder is always what anyone can do now with his actual skills and motivation.
posted on #5
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I think being frustrated is part of a musical development ! I personally don't know a single musician who never went through a frustation phase ... as a musician we HAVE to experience this !! I was lucky enough to have a teacher who warned me about this (more or less) when i was a kid learning clarinet :) He was already old (something like 75-80 years old) and the most gentle teacher i ever met ! He taught me that each time i would feel frustrated or depressed (that wasnt the words he used to a kid though) because of music, i should just breath and go back a step or two, practice things i already know ... scales, melodies whatever ! as long as you just don't challenge yourself technically :)

I must concede that i sort of adapted this advice when i switched to guitar ... and it worked for me most of the time ! i have mind liberating routines like some chords progressions or rhythmic exercises which help me building new confidence :)
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #6
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Right on Oliv. We all get frustrated I think. I don't know how many times I have said, "I quit". Staying fresh is always a challenge, and it seems you , at least I, go thru stages, where I seem to be playing the same things over and over. Never learning anything new. So usually I just put my guitars aside for a month, 2 months, sometimes 6 months before I get the bug again. If I can get out and see live music, that is one thing that will motivate me, make me want to play again. Finding this site was a blessing in the fact that I wasn't trying to write everything, but could hop aboard someone else's idea and ride a new and different train. It has forced me to play/sing material/styles that are new and different to me.
posted on #7
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Really good thread. Being in a bit of slump myself the main factors seem to be a slightly contradictory combination of 1) feeling that I'm just playing the same old stuff over and over and 2) not being able to finish things to the standard I want to. It's clearly easier to be motivated when you find your own playing 'interesting' and you think you're saying something other people want (or ought!) to hear.

I don't have any magic answers to overcoming this. Trying a different style or deliberately setting unnatural constraints (e.g avoid playing fifths) has helped me in the past. OTOH. the approach that worked for me last time was to 'find a thing' that I was completely comfortable playing and could actually finish. Listening back to stuff I've recorded (particularly remixes by others) can also help in reminding me that it's not all bad!
Edited by GrooveEnth on February 24 2017 19:20
posted on #8
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Have a Break! It´s only you can do! Try to learn/play other intruments. Listen to music that you do not usually hear. Get inspired! Let the time play for you. I'm thinking, music comes from Muse. Let your heart speak and try to agree with your skill! Do not ask if others want to hear, but make it simple. Artists have it hard! ;)
Rockin´ in a free world !
posted on #9
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I do what Adu suggests: pick up a new instrument! I hit ennui with the sax and picked up the guitar. With guitar I picked up the bass; with bass I picked up vocals; somewhere in there I learned the keyboard on a piano and can build chords, play scales, etc. Oh, also the tin whistle. Music should be fun and challenging! :) I may start taking vocal and piano lessons soon!
posted on #10
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1- No inspiration:
First time I've met this after 2/3 uploads per day in the beginning... Panic !! 2 years later, having a break is the best way.
2- Frustration:
.Another side is wanting/feeling to play in a track and not getting satisfaction...
.Switching style is a good medecine too, I usually try to play some metal in order to reboot my mood
posted on #11
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Great topic. I relate to everyones responses on this thread.
Its good to know I am not alone.
For me when the creativity, desire or drive is no where to be found
then I practice. That usually consists of running scales, tapping
and playing around with jazz chords.

Nothing will bum me out more than sitting down with a track
that I really like and want to play on but just cannot get a groove happening.
If I stop there then the rest of my day sucks. So I practice the basics. Be it
with another track, drum machine or metronome. I guess I try to make something
positive out of a negative.

The desired end result of my madness is that when the creativity and desire
returns the practice will help me to better express what I play when combined
with desire and emotion.
Unfortunately my method does not always make the desire and creativity
magically return. Especially as quickly as I desire.
Sometimes we just have to ride the storm out.
posted on #12
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I know that problem too, and I have to say right now, "I am frustrated" ...no ideas, always the same etc.
so I decided to give up playing "for a while" whatever that means ?
Edited by Kermit on February 25 2017 10:08
posted on #13
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Great post and great responses. I get frustrated on a daily basis with my playing. My little ten year break only added to the frustration.. knowing I "Used" to play better and no matter how hard I work, just not getting back to the place I used to be. I see a lot of great suggestions here. Some of the things I use are 1. stepping out of my comfort zone and trying to do things I have never done. Most of that I do with singing and trying to write lyrics, but in the background, I also use those same tracks to practice my guitar with. I don't upload my playing as it usually sucks on those types of songs, but it does help to inspire me to push a little harder on my playing, and I learn a lot. 2. I come on the loops and just listen to tracks, when I hear a run or a phrase someone makes when playing, I grab the guitar and start trying to figure out how they did that. Well, not in the case of FrankieJ or Tof, they play to darn fast lol 3. I go back to the basics... I make a track of me playing what I am more comfortable with. Sure it doesn't help me per se, but at least I am inspiring the other loopers with a track of music they could get inspired with. As I see people adding to the track, then I am inspired to keep pushing forward
posted on #14
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I feel your pain. I stopped playing for 13 years. I started playing again, loving that the internet now existed.

Work has caused me to stop playing over the last year, but I'm trying!!

Keep the faith and upload when you can. Have fun and rock on!
posted on #15
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You all wrote from the inner of my heart. I challenge myself to often and think there are so much people who play so much better like me. There are quantum leap's to became such a level. And if i watch some youtube video's to, the motivation goes deeper as my bass can ever do.

But it's my own problem with the most things. If i do a thing i want to do it perfect or don't do it. :(

Then i must rethink about why i make music and then i came back to the point "I want to have fun while i play my instrument" I do it for fun and not to beat every one who is a better player. I have this problem with the most things i do not only with my instrument. :|

This quote helps me a lot <3

Neronick wrote:The real wonder is always what anyone can do now with his actual skills and motivation.
posted on #16
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...so thats pretty much all of us have this problem.:) seems to be pretty permanent for me. i wanna be creative but limited ability is an impediment. so i'm happy to be a booster for other people. i don't need to play the lead melody, our burn a mean lick at 100+db's...its enough to cruise in the background and help lay a nice comfy carpet for the real clever people to walk on....dont get me wrong, just occasionally i'll have a minor stroke of genius (good luck) and totally overexcite myself.
what i'm trying to say is that for those of us without too much skill, enjoyment can be gotten just from aiding and abetting the clever guys in their creative journeys.
contrary to common opinion, musos are not all ego led (as wikifest regularly demonstrates) and the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of someone else creativity, is reward enough.
posted on #17
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Music is not a competition, wikiloops not at all! Music is art. :) I hope all of you will understand me right! ;)
Rockin´ in a free world !
posted on #18
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Well stated ADU.
posted on #19
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Many well thought out and practical responses from very experienced players who've been doing it for a long time. I can relate to both taking a break and just going back to basic exercises to re-center and ground you. Woodwind and brass players also need to play fairly regularly or they loose their "chops". Once you've been away for too long then it takes a lot more work to get those mouth muscles up to the task, even if you feel "inspired". Not physically being able to play if trying can put you into a negatively reinforced tail spin so keeping your chops up is important no matter what.

OK here's an old guy perspective that you younger players don't have as part of your reality (yet). It may however be a productive and positive approach to music. At 70 I'm continually asking myself "how much longer can I play music?" It may be a race between arthritis and dementia to see which one takes me down first, or just the grim reaper. I know that sounds rather depressing and yet it's an inspiration for me to enjoy and be "present" in making music for as long as that may be possible. Although it may not seem/sound like it I'm 100% committed whenever playing. Doesn't mean I don't get frustrated when I screw up, just means that it seems to be happening less often as I go deeper into the music and leave my ego behind. Being in "the zone" for as long as possible is its own reward. Being able to share music with others (here) is another reward, yet doesn't require a big fan base or 50 thumbs per tune. Playing one note at a time means that I almost always want to be playing with others. I do envy Keyboard and guitarists in being able to have it all (chords, melody, rhythm, and even sing at the same time!).

So for me, the key to keeping inspired is just appreciating what I can do in whatever time is left, and that this site exists and it's possible to play with so many fine musicians.

It would certainly leave a big hole in my life if this site ceased to exist.
posted on #20
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(I hope you understand my poor English translated)
Is a very interesting topic. I interrupted the play guitar for over 15 years. I used to play classical pieces and a lot of Portuguese popular music. Together with friends we sang on weekends during the whole night around beer, wine, whisky and snacks.
At that time, I don't remember frustration.
Later, during a long period of my life I was moving around all weekend from place to place supporting my young kids’ sports activities. Had little time available for music. Currently children are adults around thirties. Also, I don't remember frustration, although I felt the lack of music.
About 3 years ago, I slowed my professional activity, and only drink wine. I have more time available now and my desire to play guitar returned. I discovered jazz and I was fascinated. The possibility of being able to create and each theme can always have something new, really fascinated me.
When I found out the wikiloops and the big amount of souls around the world who play and share their creations for fun, excited me. I went back to scales, modes, chords, arpégios, .... and I started using the 7th, and 9th 11th 13th, 6th etc ... fantastic!! The music shown other colors.
It was important sharing and listening to what others were doing and ... I learned a lot from my friends loopers, … and I am still learning. I never had the experience of playing with a band in the past (luckily my youngest kid did it for a period, now his professional activity does not allow).
There is a law of the universe that says the following: each new step in the evolution requires an increasing expenditure of resources.
I think this principle is well visible in the music. The more you evolve playing an instrument greater will be the effort spent and always with a smaller evolving speed.
Here arises a kind of frustration. How to fight it? Maybe with perseverance and support from their peers.
Here the wikiloopers are a great help, motivation from peers.
Another type of frustration derived from lack of creativity, where you always must create something new and different, and it doesn’t appear. It is a lot more complex.
Among a huge number of factors I believe that atherosclerosis has big responsibilities here too, by not allowing the brain blood abundant irrigation LOL.
However, change, do new things, new experiences, listen to different music, diverge, disagree, … it helps ...
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