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:
With the way the music industry has transformed to favor the instant gratification of playlists over the past couple of years, musicians are rethinking the ways they work in some significant ways. Chiefly, the breakdown of the album as music’s main music-listening format is forcing musicians of every stripe to approach making and releasing music differently to cater to music-addicted audiences with perpetually diminishing attention spans. Releasing more music more often is the only way to keep listeners engaged, conventional music industry wisdom dictates. But for as much as a non-stop musical race might sound doable to some musicians, it’s an approach that isn’t likely to work for most of us.
Filling a blank computer screen or piece of white paper with original song lyrics is no easy task. Some songwriters struggle with the thought that what they write might be too revealing while others fear that what they come up with is too boring, cliche, or dull. The lyrical part of songwriting proves to be the most challenging for many otherwise talented songwriters, which means it’s something we should talk about.
No matter what your unique challenges are for writing great song lyrics, one thing is sure to help: paying attention.
Creative risk-taking flies in the face of so much we think, feel, and do as serious musicians. The process of learning an instrument, making music, and sharing it with the world requires a great deal rigid predictability––regular practice, lots of discipline, showing up to shows on time, playing the same music over and over again until you get it right. Predictability and sticking to the rules is great as far as learning an instrument and maintaining a musical project goes, but if you’re interested in writing creative music, it can be much more of a hindrance than an asset.
Songwriters often struggle with not knowing what to write music about. For some readers, lyrics and written material for songs is something that comes naturally, but for others, finding out what to write music about feels like an insurmountable challenge. If you’re a songwriter that can’t find anything to write about, here are four tips to help:
Creativity is a tough beast to harness and understand considering how prone to forming habits the average person is. If you’ve ever found yourself writing the same things over and over again in music, it’s for a good reason. Our brains and bodies are set up in a way that favors patterns and habits so that we’re not forced to learn how to do things over and over again. This is why tying your shoes every day isn’t a major challenge. Things like muscle memory help us to internalize the actions behind patterns to help us work competently as musicians. But when it comes to songwriting, habits can be a major challenge to contend with.
Musicians aren’t any different than non-musical people in the way that they typically try to avoid experiencing pain and loss. But where songwriters and all other artists differ from the rest of the world is in the way they’re often charged with converting painful personal experiences into work that moves and relates to people.
Unless you’re a songwriter that happens to crank out great songs every time you make music, predictability and boredom are big challenges to cope with when it comes to how writers work and what motivates them. The process you relied on to write songs a couple of years ago might not provide the same energy and ideas you need now to write something meaningful, but dismantling the way you make music and putting it back together again in new ways isn’t easy. Here are three ways to help you get started: