Updated: Feb 15, 2021
Lack of motivation to practice is a common problem that almost all musicians will face at some point in their life. It's normal, frustrating and can be caused by any manner of different things.
So the big question is - how do we overcome this lack of motivation?
There are a few key things to help you find your drive once again, the first one is to find a goal. This could be to learn a particular skill or piece by a set date, to learn a part to play with a friend, achieve a certain standard to join a community ensemble or be ready for a performance. Anything really, you just need to come up with a goal.
Make sure it's something that excites you, regardless of its difficulty! Once you've got your goal, work out what you need to do to achieve this goal (I suck at this bit). Ever heard of SMART goals? Well there is something to this. Your goal must be;
Specific - don't just say you want to reach a certain standard of playing, find a piece that you want to do, or some other way that you will know for certain that you've achieved your goal! You need to go into detail. For example, I want to learn X-piece by Y-date and be performing it at Z-speed for W-audience.
Measurable - find out ways that you know you are improving and staying on track. Work out what you want to achieve and where you should be at different points (say weekly checkpoints). These achievements could be tracking metronome markings as you slowly increase the speed over time or even weekly recordings of you performing your piece each week that you can look back on or maybe even points within the piece (section A by week 1, Section 2 by week 2 etc).
Achievable - if you've never played your instrument before, performing on Carnegie Hall within a month is probably an unachievable goal. Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable but don't forget to dream big. Just make sure the goal and timeline is somewhat realistic. Personally, I don't think you should get caught up on this. If your goal is to play on the Carnegie Hall stage, then figure out what you need to do to get there and then work out a timeline and don't be afraid to readjust this timeline as you achieve things and hit roadblocks.
Relevant - this one doesn't really count, I assume you've read this far because it's something you want to do and therefore it's relevant!
Time-based - figure out a date that you want to achieve your goal by and various dates that you can check in at along the way to ensure you're on the right track. For example, if your goal is going to take you a year to achieve, then you should decide what you would like to achieve each week, fortnight and/or month.
Okay, we have a goal....so now what?
The second step is to find a way to be accountable. Find someone in your life that can regularly check-in with you and ensure that you are doing what you'd planned to do. This could be a friend, partner, family member or even teacher.
And there are many ways that you can be accountable, even if this person is not musical. You could organise a time for your accountability partner to check in with you. This could be a phone call, email or in person. Or you could even perform for them, either in person or by recording something, and ask for feedback. An added benefit of recording is that you can look back at what you've achieved over time!
There are many ways that you can be accountable and various ways for your accountability partner to aid you in sticking to your goal.
And the final recipe for success?
Don't forget to celebrate your successes all the way along the journey. If you're a beginner, your first goal is going to be making a sound . Once you've achieved that, celebrate! Next goal, put the instrument together and make a sound out of that! Each celebration will give you a sense of achievement and encourage you to keep at it! So don't forget this step, a lot of adult learners do!
So what are your tips for staying motivated and keeping up the practice?
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