I’ve had a question from my newest YouTube subscriber.
“How do you motivate yourself to practice when you hate playing by yourself, but have no other choice? Thanks to Covid, and multiple band breakups and having to move to a new town, I’m stuck by myself and I loathe playing by myself either for practice or performing. There’s a special family feeling to playing with other people in a band, or even playing live although doing that alone still sucks compared to being able to do it with a band, and now not having it has made me not want to pick up my guitar for weeks. How do I beat this melancholy? What would you do if you had to be me in this situation?”
I feel your frustration 100%! By the time this is all over, it’ll be the longest period i’ve had as a full time musician where I haven’t done a single gig, or had a band practise or done anything musical. When all this first started I imagined it’d be a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months, but now it looks like it will be much longer. The thing that I console myself with is that this is not just me; and this is happening worldwide to a lot of people. It’s not like a band has just split up and i’m out of a gig, or not that i’m being lazy and not looking for gigs; the gigs and opportunities are not there at the moment even if the right people are.
Music is a thing that should be bring people together, whether thats to create it, or enjoy it; but we’ve got a situation thats unavoidable and its gonna be with us for a while yet. I’ve found that without the need to practise for a gig or show that i’ve got coming up, i’m not picking up my instruments as often, or spending the same amount of time on them as I normally would. But, in a way i’ve found it a bit liberating, because it’s made me see ruts that i’ve got into before, where music became too much of a job that i’d stopped listening and interacting with it in the same way that I used to. It seemed like the only time I did anything with an instrument was at a gig, or learning things for that gig with that band. So, just being able to put an album on and listen to it without feeling i’ve got to be learning something at the same time has been quite nice.
If I could offer any suggestion it’d be to take the opportunity we have at the moment to explore things in music that you’ve not done before. If you’ve not spent much time improvising for example, or not written any songs for a while. Maybe record some songs or covers and offer them online so people can still enjoy your music. It’s not the same, but it might give you that boost if you know other people are getting to enjoy it.
Personally i’m doing a bit more reading at the moment, some deep theory stuff that’s keeping my mind engaged with music. And sometimes i’ll pick up an instrument to try something out from what i’ve learnt, which might be ten minutes or so, and it’s been nice to be able to do it in that relaxed way, its almost as if i’m a teenager again with all the time in the world to spare. Just keeping the brain ticking over reading about music and not putting on any pressure that I should be practising a certain thing, or feeling that I should be picking it up every day; thats helped me so far, but it remains to be seen how that’ll be in another few months. I think things’ll be a lot different on the music scene in the future, but i’m keeping the faith that when it’s over at least i’ll have a renewed appreciation for music.
If it is a lack of motivation, maybe try playing something every day, but limit your time to five minutes or so. I think it’s important to keep consistency there, even though it might not be that enjoyable at the moment doing it on your own. Just keep doing a small amount, until you can learn to enjoy playing music on your own more.