“Help! I don’t love music like I used to.”
Have you ever thought that? Maybe you’ve even said it out loud.
Most musicians have. The truth is that stress, deadlines, injuries, and over-scheduling all take a toll on us.
They can start to dim our passion and commitment to music, no matter how much we used to love it.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone! The good news is that you can get that passion for music back again.
Your love for music hasn’t died, it’s just been buried by stress, fatigue, and burnout.
So how do you overcome the burnout and love music like you used to?
Here are five tips to help you fall in love with music all over again.
Play for Fun
I’ve talked about this one before, but I keep coming back to it because it’s so important.
Sometimes we get into a rut of practicing the pieces we “have” to learn for upcoming church services, performances, recitals, etc.
Now, that’s not a bad thing. I highly recommend practicing those pieces and being prepared!
But it’s easy to let our deadlines and required repertoire crowd out the music that we really love and feel passionate about.
Make sure you take some time to play that Beethoven sonata you loved in high school or your favorite hymns. Maybe you love that book with music from the soundtrack of Mary Poppins.
Be sure to add some fun, enjoyable repertoire to your practice sessions, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
It will make a big difference!
Sometimes we get tunnel vision and can only see our own practice, repertoire, and performances. We tend to lose sight of the beauty of the music all around us.
If that sounds like you, I recommend taking a few minutes to walk away from your own practicing and listen to some music that you love.
What was it that first inspired you to want to play music? Which piece made you fall in love with your instrument?
For you it might be something different. Whatever it is, take some time to reminisce and listen to the pieces that first made you love music.
Sometimes that new and fresh perspective is all we need to stay motivated.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Stop comparing yourself and your progress to other musicians!
Focus on developing your own musicianship and being the best that you can be. Enjoy the talent God has given you without worrying if someone else has more.
Quitting the comparison game will take a huge burden and anxiety off your shoulders and free you to love the music you play and enjoy your own continuing progress.
Trust me, I speak from experience!
Set Reasonable Goals
There are two parts to this one.
First of all, setting goals is important. It’s hard to stay motivated and excited about music if you’re stuck in a rut, practicing the same pieces and styles over and over again without working toward anything in particular.
Setting some goals to strive for is a great way to re-energize your playing and practicing habits and make you excited about music again.
Secondly, make sure that the goals you set are reasonable. If you aim too high, you’re just going to end up worn out and frustrated.
That doesn’t mean you can’t work on a big, challenging project. It does mean you should break up that huge goal into smaller, more attainable ones.
For example, “Memorize all of Bach’s Inventions” is not a reasonable goal. It’s too much to tackle all at one time, and you’ll probably end up giving up on it quickly because you’re too overwhelmed to make progress.
Instead, try something like “Learn Bach’s Invention No. 1”. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can move on to “Memorize Bach’s Invention No. 1”. You can then tackle Invention No. 2, and so on.
Breaking up your larger goals into smaller, bite-sized pieces will keep you from getting so burned out and frustrated.
Also, since the goals are smaller you will reach them faster, which will give you the confidence boost you need to keep going.
That’s a win-win!
Have a Life
Setting boundaries and having other interests outside of music is key to staying mentally healthy and enjoying music more.
Take some time to really think about your schedule and your commitments.
Do you really need to accompany three different choirs, or is it too much?
Maybe you’re pushing yourself a little too hard in your practice sessions. Try cutting back to a more reasonable amount of practice time and see if it helps you feel fresher and more energized.
Now, I was a music major in college and I realize that those of you who are in that boat have a lot of deadlines and practice commitments. Been there, done that!
If you’re in school for music, you may not be able to cut back on your practice time or your commitments.
If that’s the case, make sure you take breaks here and there to spend time with a family member, go for a run, or get a drink of water because you’ve forgotten to drink water all afternoon.
Try to have at least one hobby outside of school, even if you can only work on it for a few minutes here and there.
Being able to read a mystery novel, knit a scarf, or shoot hoops with your brother in the driveway will help you come back to your schooling with renewed energy and a clearer head.
That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
How do you stay in love with music when you’re tired and stressed? Leave a comment below.