We have all probably experienced times when we need to play, rehearse or perform music, but just don’t feel like it. A very frustrating feeling, even more so because we know that we normally like to practice! At times, my mind is ranting: “Gahh, why can’t this be fun right now? Normally this is fun! It’s supposed to be fun! So why isn’t it, now when I have to do it”?
Well, we can’t always feel motivated by the things we love. It’s all a matter of balance. Sometimes our inspiration needs to rest, so that we can muster up new energy. Other times our inspiration is there, but hiding behind something else, like the fear of executing a new (scary) task, or behind duties and expectations. More often than not we may also forget to nurture our inspiration by adding new sources of creativity to reboot it.
If I have to play when I don’t feel like it, I usually try to kick start my inspiration by doing what would normally refuel it. That way, I help my mind get back on the right track. Consider the points written below as alternate ways to get started. But above all, find your own sources for inspiration, and learn which works best, and when.
Play something you really enjoy playing
A few years ago, I noticed the importance of always having something going on in your practice routine that is not tied to your active projects. That is, something you can return to just for fun, not linked to any particular seriousness or occasion. Something that is ok to leave half-done or incomplete. This can help you connect with the original feeling you have towards music without the added pressure of having to perform.
Play something you know really well
As a pianist, my hands are closely tied to my musical experience. Sometimes, to just sit down and start to play is enough to open up a world of inspiration. Whatever your instrument, pick a song or piece that you know well enough to get absorbed by it. It shouldn’t be too challenging or complex, just enough to remember how it actually feels to be inspired. If you’ve been inspired by playing before, your inspiration will be tied to that experience.
Listen to your favorite music
Positive experiences can also be linked to your ears. You know the kind of music that just makes you say “aahh, this is soo good!!” or the song that always make you willing to pick up your instrument? Put it on!
Choose the right time of day to practice
I generally feel less inspired to play music in the morning and around noon. Therefore, I prepare to handle more practical matters during these hours. For me, the inspiration usually creeps up during the afternoon and excels in the evening. I’ve seen that people experience this in various ways, but if you become aware that your inspiration is often linked to the time of day, try to steer your chosen music time to hours when you tend to feel more inspired.
Make sure to add something new
Have you ever thought about what it takes to keep a fire going? When the old fire logs are burning out you have to add new logs to keep the fire going. If you do not, the fire will go out. Inspiration and creativity work similarly. By adding something new once in a while you can keep up the good energy and enthusiasm. So, for a while, forget the songs you’ve been working on. Learn something new and let it boost your creativity enough so that you can return to what you need to work on with new energy.
Share your music with others
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. Sharing your music can be a great way to shift focus. If you decide to share your music to be inspired, make sure to pick the right people for just that. However, the main reason I find it useful to share my music is that it puts it in a (social) context. It often feels way more meaningful to put something that matters to you in a good context, than to just keep it to yourself.
Get into your body
At other times, inspiration is a matter of just tuning in with ourselves. To get into your body, and focus on the physical aspects, might decrease the flow of your thoughts (which generally takes up most of the space in our brains). Regardless if you use quieter practices, such as mediation or yoga, or a more traditional workout, exercising helps you to tune in with your physical self, instead of just the intellectual. Also, remember that it’s always the body that executes all that you do musically. Not too bad to be tuned in with that part of yourself, right?
One last thing regarding getting into your body, though slightly off topic. Do what you do musically but do it really slowly. Pay attention to every movement, every sound you produce. You might be surprised how much the body actually tells you if you are prepared to listen to it. If I’m tuned in with my hands, they will almost immediately tell me when I’m doing something the wrong way technically. Being aware of how my hands feel helps me to stay free from injuries.
Did you like what you just read? Are you looking for further answers to your challenges? Don’t hesitate to comment on these topics, or any other, below.