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Motivation Strategies for Musicians:


Keep Calm and Practice On by Dr. Brittney Patterson


One of the greatest challenges facing musicians of all ages and ability levels is staying motivated from day to day. Life is full of challenges, be they finding time to practice, prepare for an upcoming concert, or studying for final exams while battling sleep deprivation, but the key to overcoming these challenges is to maintain a positive attitude. This philosophy is true for every area of life, in relationships with friends and family or in a job, and it is certainly true for musicians who are striving to have effective practice sessions. Practice is not meant to be torturous hours spent playing difficult passages repeatedly while thinking about other tasks that could be completed during that time; it should be moments in the day when musicians are allowed to experiment and create art free from the pressure of an audience or a teacher. This is admittedly easier said than done but keeping an open mind and a positive attitude can keep musicians motivated even during the most trying times in life.


Staying motivated to practice when life is increasingly busy and stressful is a very difficult task, and many musicians struggle with taking their instrument out of the case and practicing in the face of these stressors. Let’s create a scenario to illustrate these difficulties and how to deal with them in a productive, realistic way.


38 October/November 2018


Imagine a talented student named Lydia, a flutist who is working on an undergraduate music degree. She has a very busy schedule that includes teaching private lessons, playing in orchestra, and completing classwork on time in several challenging courses. On top of all of these duties, Lydia must practice for


several hours a day to improve her playing, but at the end of the day all she wants to do is watch television and sleep. How can she stay motivated to practice after a full, stressful day? There are several steps that she can take to improve her practice session (not to mention her mood!)


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