“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
- Clarify goals. When we enter the practice room with compelling aims in mind, our work vibrates with purpose.
- Kindle devotion. Affirmations stoke our passion for music. Before practice, for instance, I might say, “I’m grateful to be able to make music.”
- Inspire yourself. Habitually listen to recordings, read, attend performances, improvise, visit art museums, and go beyond familiar surroundings.
- 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.
- Be productive. Productivity feeds motivation and vice-versa. So stick to a practice schedule and assemble a repertoire of accessible music.
Fueling External Motivation
- Book performances. Arrange both public and private practice performances so that your practice sessions are geared toward energizing objectives.
- Be generous. Share your music with those who don’t have easy access.
- Set deadlines. Write down weekly goals, and pace your practice accordingly – see the Downloads page at MusiciansWay.com for free aids.
- 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.
© 2010 Gerald Klickstein