Staying Motivated When Learning To Play An Instrument

No matter your age, your ability or your instrument. Learning music is something that requires commitment. In keeping with the best things in life like cooking great food, having strong relationships or cultivating a garden; learning music is intensely rewarding and at times, tough going.





Charting Progress


If we to plot on a graph what we’d expect at the start of the journey into learning music, we might expect to see something like this:




The more time we put in, the more we improve. A nice steady, smooth rate of improvement.

However, this is not always the case. For most people, the below chart is the more far more likely to occur.




Here, we can see rapid progress at the beginning and then, the dreaded plateau. Suddenly, taking the sax out of the case, or sitting down at the piano isn’t new and exciting anymore, it’s just a routine task. Pieces or exercises are becoming more challenging and the scale of what’s ahead of you is becoming clearer.

But then, look what happens at the end of the plateau - more progress! The feel good factor comes back and your new skills bring a whole new world of pleasure! The hard work pays off and the scale of what’s ahead of you becomes an inspiration and not something to be feared.


Tips For Staying Motivated


It is in the first plateau where many students start to feel lost. But there are some techniques and approaches that can help you get through it quicker and with less emotional trauma.

1. Revisit Old Repertoire

Remember that piece you perfected 6 months ago? The simple one with only a few notes, chords or patterns? Play it! In music, the simple things are often the most beautiful. Enjoy the feeling of mastering something and take inspiration for the more challenging work ahead.

2. Talk To Your Teacher Or Family About It

The old saying a problem shared is a problem halved definitely applies here. Share your frustrations with your teacher - they won’t take it personally and in fact, our tutors love to know how you’re feeling about the journey. It could be a sign for them to mix up the structure of the lessons a little, or perhaps throw in a new dimension to the learning. The more you share, the more your tutor can work on personalising your experience and getting the right balance for you.

3. Set Yourself Realistic Goals

Having a goal, something to work towards, is a really great motivator. A goal will help you focus, see your progress and make you feel good when you reach it. Talk with your tutor about breaking up the next part of your journey so you have a clear idea of where you’re going and what it’s going to take to get there.

4. Advice For Parents

Our CEO Alex tells the story of when he was 11 years old and had a new drum teacher. The teacher would often shout and the content in the lessons was quite dry. “I went home and told my dad I didn’t want to play the drums any more”, Alex recalls. “My dad just said “OK” and cancelled the lessons. But the drums stayed set up in the front room. After about 2 months of walking past them every time I went to watch TV, I started playing again, found a new tutor and have never looked back since.”

We understand that for parents, giving opportunities in music education means you are giving your children a skill that can bring a lifetime of pleasure - with huge social, creative and economic benefits associated as well. It takes commitment from parents, in terms of both time and the financial burden of lessons and instrument purchases. So it is obviously alarming news to find your child is wanting to give up.

If your child is in a plateau and loses motivation. Don’t panic, try the tips included above and, as a final measure, work out a notice period; giving up only after a month of hard work. 9 times out of 10, that month of work will get your child out of the plateau and back to feeling great about making music again!


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