Creating music is something that’s hugely rewarding and cathartic for most musicians, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make. For some, the pressures of family and non-musical careers slowly edge out music-making priorities until there’s no resources left to devote to it. Others step back from music because of the innate and unavoidable challenges that come along with it. If you’re someone that’s taken a break from music and wants to get back into the swing of things, there are things you can do to make it a part of your life again. Here are five tips:
1. Define what you want to do as a musician
The first thing to do is to define what you want to get out of making music. Defining big goals you have for you and your music is crucial in forming the smaller day-to-day tasks and routines you’ll need to set up for yourself to get back into making it. Don’t be afraid to dream big here, but you will need to be specific. If your goal is to get signed by a big label for example, try breaking down what you hope being signed will get you: more fans, critical acclaim, financial support, etc.
2. Set weekly musical goals
Once your big goals are defined, it’s time to write down reasonable weekly tasks and a schedule for making music that you can actually stick to. If you’ve got big goals of making an album or practicing a new set for tour, working towards a goal a couple of devoted hours at a time for a lengthy period is a good way to get it done, especially if you’re busy.
3. Try out new music in low-pressure settings
If it’s been a really long time since you’ve performed or released new music, testing the waters in a low-pressure setting is a good way to ease back into things. Open mic nights, posting music anonymously, meeting up with local songwriters. These are all ways to introduce yourself to music after a long hiatus.
4. Listen to new and obscure music
If you’ve been out of the game for a while and need new ideas, consider seeking out and listening to unfamiliar music. This is something you can do today easily with playlists even if you’re busy and don’t have much time to feed your music habit.
5. Figure out what’s keeping you from making music
This last tip is the most important one listed here. If you haven’t made music in a while, things probably won’t change much until you learn why and do something different. Music is work, even though that work happens to be fun and emotionally rewarding for a lot of people. And until you see it as work that has to get done, it won’t be a priority for you and your busy life – I’m assuming your life is busy. Some musicians only work when they feel inspired, and those are the ones most likely to give things up and search for greener creative pastures. Figure out why you haven’t been making music, change it, and get to work.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.