Most people discovered joy as a kid while beating sticks on empty containers, pretending to be a drum or playing piano with their fingers on the school bench. However, with time, the innocent joy of music is lost due to the complexities of life.
Sometimes, even the most skilled musicians fail to appreciate music’s intricate rhythm and beauty. This comprehensive guide is going to serve as your crash course to discover the joy of creating music at your fingertips.
1. Embrace the Freedom
Your uniqueness makes you stand apart from the conformity of the general population. Not everyone can be as skilled as Schubert in playing piano or as enigmatic as Hendrix when tweaking a guitar.
Embrace what makes you unique and inspires you to create music, whether imitating famous music pieces or random improv sessions. Just pick your favorite instrument, start jamming and notice the changes in your mood.
The point of this exercise is to let your creative juices flow, as a study has shown listening to music activates the right hemisphere of our brain, which is linked to emotional and creative experiences.
This simple exercise imitates the most primitive feeling children experience when interacting with an instrument.
2. Curious by Heart
Being rigid and stern in your approach is not an optimal strategy in music, as it can limit creativity and hinder spontaneity.
This is evident in traditional music, where systematic repetition of notes is given utmost importance, but the disciple is also encouraged to practice improvisation, which gives birth to curious exploration.
Madeline Bruser, famous author of The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, has stated in her book “follow your curiosity” to improve on your musical weaknesses.
At first, it may seem redundant to practice what you feel like practicing, but according to her, we’ve all got a “wise inner voice” that guides us in the right direction.
3. Contextual Interference Effect
There are two techniques for memorizing notes in music: block schedule and random schedule.
Block schedule is a technique in which you repeatedly play a passage until it is memorized and then move on to the next section. This technique follows the stern principle of repetition and has been traditionally used by musicians around the world.
In contrast, the random or interleaved schedule emphasizes memory and skill acquisition. This neuroscience backed technique is called the contextual interference effect.
In this method, you successfully play a few passages, then move forward to another piece of music and later return to the same passage. This practice helps to prevent habituation, which is an instance of the mind losing interest in something that is constantly repeating.
Contextual interference effect minimizes the stern learning approach and replaces it with a more flexible and efficient learning method.
4. Organic Practice Ground
Give utmost importance to your practice sessions and the surrounding environment. An ideal practice ground can be a breeding place for innovative ideas and can positively affect brain development.
Music makes the environment more pleasant and enhances the relaxation effect of outdoor activities. A recent study found that regardless of the genre of music, environments with organic components were more enjoyable, fascinating and cohesive than industrialized environments.
5. Set Your Expectations
Some people are overachievers and tend to go beyond the conventional norms to prove themselves. However, it is important to set realistic expectations and work towards achieving the ultimate goal.
Planning fallacy refers to collecting additional stress to fulfill an unrealistic goal due to the cognitive process of optimism bias. Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to increased negative thoughts, which can hinder your creative progress.
Always aim for a realistic goal and break the process into small hurdles, this practice reinforces motivation and increases resilience.
6. Start with the Basic
The famous saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” applies to music as well, many people make the mistake of learning more complicated pieces or repertoire without polishing the basics of music.
As a result, you end up spending a considerable amount of time repeating a repertoire, which leads to frustration and feelings of inadequacy, finally resulting in quitting music.
This is why it is crucial to pick a suitable repertoire and work up to the skill set required to master a complicated repertoire.
7. Focus on the End Goal
Famous engineer, YouTuber and motivational speaker Mark Rober spoke about “The Super Mario Effect” or turning your practice into a videogame.
In his TedTalk, he proposed that instead of focusing on the failures and hurdles that one faces along the way, you should remind yourself of the end goal and what awaits you at the finishing line.
This strategy of tricking your brain is much more than a simple positive appreciation of fighting against the primitive feeling of quitting in adverse conditions. Moreover, this psychological technique is called cognitive reframing and when used deliberately, can take the form of cognitive restructuring.
Cognitive restructuring is a non-evasive method to reach your true potential and increase your mental endurance and resilience.
Music is an innate part of human consciousness and can help in positive brain development. Often, many people struggle to find joy in their musical journey. In such instances, you should take a moment to reflect on your musical journey and the skill set you have acquired.
Take this opportunity to remind yourself of your final goal and take small positive steps toward that direction while being mindful and open to new experiences.