Luciano Pavarotti smiling

Luciano Pavarotti

“People think I am disciplined. It is not discipline, it is devotion. There is a great difference.”
–Luciano Pavarotti, singer
The Musician’s Way, p. 106

What empowers some musicians to keep growing while others fizzle?

I’m convinced that, above all, it’s self-motivation.

Self-motivated musicians overflow with enthusiasm.

Whether they attain international status or just perform locally, they’re devoted to their art and their listeners. They perpetually work on projects that excite them.

I believe that we all have the potential to spur ourselves to ever-greater heights of creativity, but to do so, we need an arsenal of self-motivating strategies.

Such strategies fall into two main types: one fuels our internal drive to make music; the other impels us via external incentives such as paychecks.

Expert self-motivators rely on both sorts.

Fueling Internal Motivation

  1. Clarify goals. When we enter the practice room with compelling aims in mind, our work vibrates with purpose.
  2. Kindle devotion. Affirmations stoke our passion for music. Before practice, for instance, I might say, “I’m grateful to be able to make music.”
  3. Inspire yourself. Habitually listen to recordings, read, attend performances, improvise, visit art museums, and go beyond familiar surroundings.
  4. Master basic skills. Nothing motivates like success. When we build up comprehensive creative skills, we can be confident in our abilities, and then our self-assurance ignites our spirit.
  5. Be productive. Productivity feeds motivation and vice-versa. So stick to a practice schedule and assemble a repertoire of accessible music.

Fueling External Motivation

  1. Book performances. Arrange both public and private practice performances so that your practicThe Musician's Way book covere sessions are geared toward energizing objectives.
  2. Be generous. Share your music with those who don’t have easy access.
  3. Set deadlines. Write down weekly goals, and pace your practice accordingly – see the Downloads page at for free aids.
  4. Collaborate. Musicians who team up motivate each other. Still, collaboration can be thorny, so study Chapter 6 of The Musician’s Way before you initiate a group venture.

These and other motivational strategies are explored throughout The Musician’s Way.

Related posts:
Artistic vision
The growth mindset
The power of specific goals
Stoking motivation

© 2010 Gerald Klickstein