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How To Prevent Getting Bored While Playing Your Instrument

It happens to all of us.  Even some of the greatest musicians struggled with this: Getting bored while playing your musical instrument.  How can you prevent this from happening?  Can we revitalize our interest?  Moreover, can we acquire that same interest and enthusiasm we have when we first played?  In this handout, we will discuss strategies to rebuild your interest while playing your instrument.  My hope is that you will have a strong eagerness and desire to practice and perform on your instrument.

The Lessons alone are not enough.

Many students have almost perfect attendance.  They show up to the lessons on time and seldom miss.  When they reschedule, they’re always good about rescheduling.  During the lessons, they are attentive, alert, and result-oriented.  However, many of these same students practice minimally on their own time.  Instead, they practice during the lessons and have very limited time to move forward.  As a result, the lessons become tedious, because the student is practicing the same material he/she practiced during the last two lessons.  To prevent this from happening, there are three Ps you need to remember: Practice, Performance, and Progression.  Practice should be done at home so you can Perform the material during the lesson, and so you can Progress with new material during that same lesson.  Motivation will always come as a result of progression.  When you see yourself improving and learning something new during each lesson, you will build momentum on your instrument, which will ultimately motivate you.  There is no better feeling to have than to be motivated while playing your instrument.  Not only will you progress, but you will build a strong interest and enthusiasm for playing.  It is also important to practice the lesson material within 24 hours of your lesson.  Students who procrastinate or do not play immediately following their lesson forget material and lose motivation.  On the other hand, students who practice immediately following their lesson, have a much higher chance of understanding what to do, because the material is fresh in their minds.  They also have a higher chance of remaining motivated and focused each week.  Some students get frustrated because they don’t know how to practice.  There is a difference between knowing what to do and how to do it.  They key is to develop a timed, structured plan when you practice.  For example, if you practice for one hour long, divide up your time accordingly with everything you are studying. Fifteen minutes can be dedicated to rudiments and sheet music on the drum pad.  Thirty minutes can be allocated to beats and soloing, while during the last ten-fifteen minutes, you can be creative and develop your own sound.  Having a comprehensive plan like this will give you structure, increase your productivity, and prevent boredom and frustration.  Additionally, attitude and your approach to practicing is equally important.  Don’t practice because you have to or because you know that’s what every good musician does.  Instead, practice with a vision in your mind.  Picture yourself someday being on stage in front of thousands of people.  Dreams and a vision are important in building your motivation to play your instrument.

Get out of the comfort zone.

We are all creatures of habit.  We have become a world of sensuality and emotion.  We do things that make us feel good and bring pleasures.  Although routine is vital to practicing and performing our instrument, too much of it results in a musical drought.  We eventually lose interest, we become bored, and playing our instrument does not seem to have the same effect as when we started.  We must maximize our effectiveness.  This comes by investing our time and income on additional supplements.  This can be a music instructional video, a clinic, or a music book.  I enjoy watching some of my favorite drummers on  I’ll sit at my desk observing these drummers and will emulate certain beats and styles.  I feel motivated and refreshed not only in my personal playing, but also in my teaching.  The reason it is so important to invest time and money in other resources is because this will enhance and enrich our playing.  We will be able to do more on our instrument.  Thus, this will prevent the monotony of always doing the same things, and it will also help enrich you to do things you were once never able to do. 

Give yourself a day off.

While it is important to remain consistent when practicing your instrument, make sure to give yourself a day of rest.  Taking a day off from your instrument can help increase your level of originality and creativity, because it breaks the monotony of routine.  We form patterns of habit by repeating them in our lives.  The same thing applies to practicing our instrument.  When we return to our instrument after a day off, we are refreshed and energized.  Energy produces creativity.  When we are rested, we will always be at our best.  A few years ago, I produced a series of instructional videos for drum playing.  I spent countless hours rehearsing, developing material and content, along with numerous other things that go into a production.  I remember feeling burned out and exhausted after the production, so I took a brief break.  I came up with fresh ideas and had a renewed desire to play the drums after my break.

Change up your practice schedule.

I am a very structured “to do” list person.  I like to follow a plan each day and feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete things from my “to do” list.  A problem I face, though, is that too much structure and routine can result in a lack of time in producing ideas to expand my business.  Over the last couple years, I’ve learned to become a little more flexible with my schedule.  This has allowed me to have more time in generating innovative concepts for my business.  It is also good to deviate from our practice schedule.  For example, if you like to start your schedule warming up with rudiments followed by practicing on the drum set, change that up occasionally.  You can begin improvising first before reviewing the lesson material, or playing along with a song first before figuring out the beats you have to practice for the next lesson.  A small deviation in your practice schedule can result in making your playing more intricate, as well as making it more fun.  A problem with some students is not lack of interest or even lack of talent, but rather, lack of discipline.  They know what they have to do, but they do not follow through.  Discipline is defined as doing what you have to do even when you do not feel like doing in order to do what you want to do.  Without any discipline in our lives, it is very difficult to succeed.  Many of today’s top musicians always find time to practice their instrument.  Despite touring or producing projects in a studio, they will make personal practice a priority.  This is often the fuel that keeps their level of interest and improvement high.  Although self-discipline is very difficult to follow through, once we do it a few times, it will come naturally for us.  It all starts off with making a bold decision to practice even if we are tired or do not feel like doing anything.

Change your attitude.

In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul tells us to fill our minds with good things, noble things, and pure things.  He gives us this teaching because he knows that whatever we fill our minds with (good or bad), this controls our attitude, feelings, and actions.  We must have the right mental attitude while playing our instrument.  Our attitude will often determine our playing ability.  If we approach our instrument with a negative attitude, our playing will be very limited.  Conversely, when we approach our instrument with a positive mental attitude, we will be sharp, concise, and more receptive to embrace new concepts.  Much of what we do starts with our thoughts and attitude.  Therefore, fill your minds with productive things, noble things, and things that will always contribute to your growth.  Avoid excessive television viewing and video games, as these activities produce no meaningful creativity or sense of accomplishment. As we strive to reach our goals as musicians, we will always have more.  Music is a continuous process.  It is incumbent upon us to enjoy the process of reaching our goals through dedicating time to our craft.  Whatever we reap, we will sow.  In other words, what we put into it is what we will get out of it.  When we invest time at our craft, we will bear much fruit by seeing continuous improvements and increased motivation, and more opportunities will come our way.

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