closeup of piano keyboard“Treat everything you play on your instrument as an important piece of music, even if you are just warming up.”
-Wynton Marsalis
The Musician’s Way, p. 22

Countless musicians set their instruments aside as their lives unfold, yet their desire to make music remains.

If you’re a rusty musician, the following guidelines will help you rekindle your music making.

10 Tips for Rusty Musicians to Start Making Music Again

1. Renew Your Instrument
Buy fresh guitar strings, hire a piano tuner, have a technician set up a violin or replace worn pads on a flute, etc. If you lack an instrument, consider renting one so that you minimize initial costs (e.g., pianists might rent an electronic piano). If you’re a singer, resolve any allergy or other problems that affect your voice, and ensure adequate hydration.

2. Start Small
When you’re ready to resume playing or singing, let your first goals be attainable and stress-free as opposed to you committing to any public performances. You might play or sing a couple of scales daily, review a few etudes over the course of a month, improvise a bit, and learn undemanding short pieces for your own enjoyment.

3. Set an Easy Schedule
Outline limited amounts of time to practice, maybe just 15-20 minutes on most days. Then, increase your playing or singing time gradually, perhaps adding five minutes to your daily allotment each week. Doing so will help stoke your motivation and ensure that you avoid overuse injury.

4. Make a Commitment
Prepare a practice space, and then stand by your schedule. One strategy might be to commit to one month of concise practice sessions, and then set a new goal based on how that month turns out.The Musician's Way book cover

5. Choose Accessible Material
Opt for music that’s both personally appealing and technically straightforward. Such accessible music enables you to focus on artistic expression. Sources for free scores are compiled at

6. Savor Every Note
Even if you’re starting off by just playing the likes of long tones and slow exercises, or you’re singing scales and arpeggios, listen deeply, and bring every sound to life.

7. Join In
As your confidence returns over the initial month or two, as a second goal, you might join a volunteer ensemble, take a group class, or sign up for lessons, whether online or in person with a local teacher.

8. Enlist Supporters
Early on, discuss with family members your thoughts about returning to musical activities, and give them the opportunity to support you. Otherwise, your change of habits could be misunderstood.

9. Keep Music in Mind
Fuel your creativity by listening to music, watching videos, and studying texts such as The Musician’s Way.

10. Share Your Achievements
When the time seems right, set up brief practice performances for friends and family members. In that way, you can restore your performance skills, and both you and those you care about benefit from your creative renaissance.

The Musician’s Way offers inclusive guidelines for rusty and active musicians alike.

Related posts:
The 3 Components of Deep Practice
Beautiful Repetition
A Different Kind of Slow Practice
Habits of Excellence
The Total Warm-Up

© 2015 Gerald Klickstein
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