5 Ways to Stay Motivated When Learning Music

Playing music is fun. But learning music can sometime seem like a lot of work. While practicing your scales and other exercises can sometimes feel tedious, here are five things you or your child can do to stay motivated and enjoy playing music. 


5. See Live Music and Talk with the Bands
There are so many opportunities to see live music, and it can be truly inspiring to see how other musicians are mastering the same instrument that you play. You don't have to go to a show at a crowded arena or music festival; there will be many smaller shows in your area. You'll get to see some incredible local musicians or smaller touring acts who will probably have time to chat with you afterwards about music. I've learned about some of my favorite musicians from talking to saxophonists outside the music venue after the show. Plus, musicians are typically happy to share their experiences with their fans, so even if it feels intimidating, they will usually be happy to talk with you for a bit after the show. And if your child is learning music, they will really appreciate the time these professional musicians will give to them after you see them play. I know that for me, after seeing great musicians, I've always gone home afterwards and practiced. It's very inspiring to see where the practice can lead.

4) Learn songs that you like to listen to.
Yes, you have to have to eat your vegetables, but sometimes you need to treat yourself and get some ice cream. When I see that my students are starting lose motivation, I give them some more popular songs to learn and I've noticed the change in how much they practice when it's something they want to learn. It also doesn't matter what instrument you play. If you play flute and love Metallica, then learn the most rocking version of “Enter Sandman” on flute. If you play guitar and love Tchaikovsky, then learn the melody to the nutcracker suite on the guitar. Your teacher should be able to help you find versions of the songs that will be in your skill level, so don't hesitate to ask your teacher about songs you want to learn.

3) Find the really weird sounds your instrument can make.
Sometimes you don't want the squeaks and squaks, but sometimes you do. Just as guitarists will experiment with pedals to achieve different tones, you can explore other weird sounds on any instrument. And while you may need to apologize ahead of time to your neighbors, you'll have a blast finding all the weird things your instrument can do. When teaching recorder, my students loved learning how to “growl” with the instrument by singing into it while playing. They found making these weird sounds super fun, and it kept them motivated. It's also a fun break from playing exercises and can lead to having a unique voice on your instrument.

2) Play with friends.
Music is simply more fun to play with other people. Find people who are in the same skill level as you so you can learn together and from each other. It can help if you both play the same instrument, as you can more easily understand what your friend is doing. But most bands have multiple instruments, so it can be extra motivating to play with someone who plays a different instrument. There are a bunch of arrangements of almost any song, so you'll be able to find something fun to play together. If your child needs someone to play with, you can ask their teacher for any other students they could meet up with, or learn an instrument yourself to play with them. As an adult, there are a lot of people of all skill levels who want to play music, so don't be afraid to search them out on various message boards and local online forums.

1) Set up a performance.
For some people, having a goal of a performance can help keep you motivated to practice. Showing off your skills can be a great experience. Plus, having a performance in mind can prompt you to practice your music to the point that you feel comfortable with playing it in public. This doesn't have to be Carnegie Hall; it can be something as simple as learning your dad’s favorite song for his birthday. You can also ask your teacher about organizing a recital. There are plenty of opportunities to play in your area. If you feel confident enough to play in front of strangers, you'll find that local jam sessions and open mic nights can be a community-friendly experience and a great way to make friends who you can play with. Ask your local music store where you can play, or look up your local coffee shops and venues to see what's happening around town. Many of these events are all-ages, so even as a teenager or pre-teen, you can have a great chance to jam with more seasoned musicians.