How To Get Out Of The Musical Rut

I Can’t Break The Cycle!

Many musicians struggle with a very common problem. It’s the problem of playing the same things over and over again. In a sense, it is a feeling of being stuck in a rut and not quite knowing how to get out of it. We all want to play things that are fresh and new while consistently evolving and growing as a musician. However, for many musicians they can’t seem to grow past their current style, sound and approach to playing.

Why Is It Like This?

There can be several reasons why you can get stuck in a rut as it relates to your playing.However, one reason is that we have developed something that is called muscle memory. Muscle memory develops as you continue to do certain actions over and over again. Your body remembers those motions and actions and starts to work on automatic pilot continuing to do them without much thought on your part. As it relates to playing a musical instrument we tend to play the same chords, progressions and licks even though we may be tired of the same old things that we play. We go back to our normal way of playing unless we work on changing it intentionally.

An example of how muscle memory works is how babies learn to walk for the first time. When a baby learns to walk he or she has to work very hard to stand without falling and balance themselves while taking steps. At first it is difficult for them. They don’t master this at first. They will fall several times during the process of learning. They have to continue to practice walking over and over again until they get to the point where they can walk without even thinking about. We all had to learn to walk this way when we were babies. Now that we have grown up, when we walk we can do so without in thinking about. We can simply decide to get up and go to the restroom for example and never even think about the actions that we must take to balance ourselves and put one foot in from of the other. We just jump up and do it! We have developed muscle memory for walking and can do so whenever we want to without much or any thought.

We can learn almost anything physical through this same process of developing muscle memory. If you continue to do something over and over again, eventually you will develop muscle memory for it. Our bodies are amazing and can learn almost anything that we will repeat over and over again.

So How Can I Break The Cycle?

In order to break the cycle you have to learn new things! It is like learning to walk for the first time. It’s a brand new action. Therefore, it will take effort and thought in order to do it. You will have to repeat the new things that you are learning over and over again. You will soon start to develop muscle memory through the repetition while practicing! The new things that you develop muscle memory for will become your new normal. Basically, out with the old and in with the new!

How Can I Apply This?

One way you can start to break the cycle of playing the same things over and over is by finding a song arrangement that you really like. I recommend finding a video tutorial, sheet music, midi files or anything in which you can learn the arrangement accurately.Take the new song or chord arrangement and practice it over and over until you can play it without much thought. It may take days before you start to develop muscle memory on the new songs or arrangement. Be patient and keep repeating it over and over until you can play it without much thought. Be patient and just know that you are making progress if you keep practicing consistently. Once you master one song or arrangement, move on to another one. Follow the same steps until you can play the new song without much thought as well. If you continue to do this, you will notice that over time your sound and style will begin to evolve and you will be growing as a musician. The process is simple and for most people the most difficult thing is to remain consistent in your practicing. If you can be consistent in your practicing you really can transform into a completely new musician! Just imagine where you could be this time next year if you do these things.

 

  • FIND A SONG OR ARRANGEMENT THAT YOU REALLY LIKE

  • GET A VIDEO TUTORIAL, SHEET MUSIC OR MIDI FILE IT

  • START TO PRACTICE ON IT SECTION BY SECTION REPEATING IT OVER AND OVER

  • KEEP PRACTICING IT UNTIL YOU CAN PLAY IT WITHOUT MUCH THOUGHT

  • ONCE YOU MASTER THAT SONG MOVE ON TO ANOTHER

  • FOLLOW THE SAME PROCESS FOR THE NEW SONG

  • NOTICE YOUR GROWTH AS YOU REMAIN CONSISTENT IN YOUR PRACTICING

 

 

Kenneth Hollins

 

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