How to Get Out of a Musical Rut

It’s normal for musicians to experience the occasional dip in inspiration, creativity, or motivation. Music is an extremely competitive field which requires years of hard work, diligent practice, countless hours alone in a practice room, endless repetitions of passages, late nights and early mornings, the impossible quest for perfection, and an infinite amount of music to learn.

Cue the burnout.

If you find yourself feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and apathetic, then you’re in the midst of a musical rut. Here are some suggestions to help you get out of it:

  • Create a playlist of pieces and recordings that inspire you. Include all of your favorite pieces and artists along with any performances that inspire you.
  • Make a list of all the reasons why you love music. Think of how much music has enriched your life. Write down why music is important to you and all of the wonderful opportunities that it has brought to your life. Keep this list somewhere you will see it every day – on your music stand, bathroom mirror, microwave, or nightstand.
  • Read quotes from famous artists and musicians. I love collecting quotes from famous musicians, artists, and composers in my quotebook. Learn from their advice, words of inspiration, even from their suffering. Musical ruts are nothing new, and it’s nice to know that you’re in good company with the likes of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Schumann, and other notoriously angsty artists. Musicians have been experiencing burnout since the beginning of time and will continue to do so long after you’ve played your last note.
  • Get involved in the music community. Reconnect with your musician friends near and far. Participate in social media groups and online forums for musicians. Reach out to give and receive information  so that you feel like an active member of the music community.
  • Find new musical outlets. Play with locals groups, and don’t be afraid to branch out into new genres. Always wanted to give folk music a go? Find some fellow folk music enthusiasts and set up a time to read through some tunes. Remember – music should be fun!
  • Volunteer. Spend some time teaching lessons to aspiring musicians who might not be able to afford them. Donate used instruments to local band or orchestra programs. Make a donation to a scholarship fund or online fundraiser. Offer to coach sectionals at local schools. Perform in nursing homes or retirement communities.  Music is meant to be shared, so find ways to give back to your community.
  • Take a break. Sometimes the best cure for burnout is to take a break. Take a few days to relax, regroup, and return with a newfound inspiration!

I hope these tips help you get out of your musical rut and you can emerge reinvigorated and ready to make some music!

What are some things you do to get out of musical ruts? Leave a comment below with your suggestions!


  • Robert Larm

    If you play in a professional group for 32 years and do around 7,500 performances not including other gigs and teaching it might take longer than a couple days off to recover after retiring!

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