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Staying positive when nothing is working...

When making music everyone has been to THAT dreaded place. Ideas sound amazing in your mind, but when they come out the speakers it’s a different matter. It's very easy to be discouraged and think that you just are not good enough. Everything else you hear sounds amazing, but not yours.

Our Level 3 students have recently been looking at how they experience this and what methods they can use to come through this challenging time when this occurs. We first discussed the methods of how they start to get inspired to make music what they do first. Some get inspired from music they hear, some said they get inspired by life situations and feel compelled to be creative in that moment. Some used samples and put their own spin and interpretation on it. Others played chord progressions and melodies.

I also set a short task where they start creating in a different way than what they normally would do (Instead of chord progression, start with a bass idea, or instead of sample ideas, start with drums). It was a good exercise in feeling challenged but being able to work through it creatively in a different way.

We came up with a few methods to help ourselves through this inevitable time when what we referred to as ‘beat block’

  • Trial and error through the creation process – Don't be afraid to try something completely different. Use instruments you never use; try a genre of music you never make. Chances are you will create something fun in a different genre, or an idea will manifest that you can use for your usual genre. Which leads us to...

  • Refer back to older productions – I will always say to student-NEVER DELETE YOUR PROJECTS! I have made some awful music that should be placed in the recycle bin, but I never do. If you hit a creative brick wall, open these saved projects and try again with different ears. You never know what amazing music could be made.

  • Take a break, but don’t be discouraged - It's OK to put the guitar down, turn the sampler off. Put some music on, pick up a book, watch a soap opera. Whatever you need do to relax and unwind, don’t feel bad for taking that time out. But just keep that mentality positive and don’t get discouraged.

It's so easy to chase perfection when doing music which can sometimes take the creative spark away. Don’t limit yourself, express yourself freely and most important, have fun with it!

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