How to get through a musical slump

Every guitar player or artist goes through slumps.  Slumps are times when we’re not feeling creative, when we wonder why we are doing what we are doing, the creative juices are turned off and we think about giving it all away.  Like everything, we can approach it from a negative mindset or apositive.  Ultimately the creator within ourselves is screaming to get out, to make the most beautiful music possible and experience the emotions that come with that.  We humans are emotional beings, ‘feeling junkies’ that want to get the right sensations running through the neuronet in our brain, or sometimes we subconsciously go for sensations that are lesser than what we really want but we have developed patterns that seem to lock us into an endles loop.  And it’s also been said many times that we are creatures of habit. So here we have three major aspects of ourselves that are driving us. 1. We are creative beings 2. We are emotional beings and 3. We are creatures of habit. 

Where this article is leading to, is a place where we can look at the slumps and turn them around into something that is useful and not something that is undermining our desire to create and sabotages our music or artform.

I like to think of a musical slump as a time to look at what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and how I can do it differently. In a slump, we are often looking for or in need of inspiration.   If we are always listening to music, maybe it’s time to stand back, turn the music off, maybe our ears are on overload or have become numb and insensitive.  Or another choice is to listen to and explore other styles, it’s very easy to get caught in a style. I’m a firm believer that many musicians are not necessarily playing the music that really suits their nature and have arrived at the style they play by default, because it was fashion or what their peer group was listening to, they wanted to play and just ended up playing what was happening at that moment. 

In the slump, I will often put myself into what I call the ‘musical workshop’, I’ll look at what aspects of music I need to work on, maybe technique, harmony, open-tunings, different methods of improvisation, analysing other players, playing classical guitar pieces, arrangements by other players; there are numerous things that can be done to still be IN music even if we are feeling musically out of sorts. At other times it’s better to just stand back and have a break, but if you do this, the important thing to do is to make a plan of re-entering into music and some point in the near future.

And sure enough, like the cycle of seasons, before you know it you find yourself back creating again.

 If you need some resources I have a number of them at www.the-guitarplayer.com

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6 Comments

Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, art, MUSIC

6 responses to “How to get through a musical slump

  1. navahto

    guitar playing has a multitude of styles around the world.I have visited a site where indian music is played in guitar .It sounded good.
    view the site
    http://www.esnips.com/web/indianguitar

  2. Nothing like a new guitar to get motivation back. Just bought a Martin 12 string. It’s amazing what an effect that can have on your writing.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one that hits slumps :-). Your workshop metaphor is a good one as I know identifying something new always boosts my enthusiasm.

  4. Hey great post! I am totally in a slump right now and I was encouraged to know that it’s normal.
    I like to change scenery when I get writers block so over the holiday i am goin home for a week and bringing my guitar.

  5. The points are well noted.
    Being a former musician myself, yes, we go thru slumps and bad patches sometimes even worse …. lost of ideas…..
    I agree with Paul that a new guitar will bring bring some new motivation and subsequent new creative ideas.
    Keep rockin … this is a useful post to everyone …
    Rock Forever.

  6. It’s a great idea to sometimes stand back and identify exactly why you are in a slump. It can help to determine your musical goals.

    Sometimes attending a concert can be a great stimulus. Best of all is interaction with other players. Many times a slump can be down to musical isolation. Guitarists are perhaps more prone to this than most instrumentalists, because of it’s soloist genre. Making music on your own is a great resource, but at times it leads to being too cut off from music in general.

    Therefore, if you can get a set together, or even set up a recording project involving playing along with others it can get you out of a rut.

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