Inspiration is something that a lot of musicians struggle with. Growing up, I used to think it was something that you either had or didn’t have. As I get older, I have learned that inspiration is something you have to constantly work at. It is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Here are 5 ways to help you stay inspired this summer!
1. Find a role model
It is always easier to accomplish something when you have someone to look up to. No matter what you are trying to do, it’s always easier to find someone who has already done it. If you are trying to run a marathon, you might ask one of your friends who is an avid runner and marathoner. If you are making a recipe at home, you will probably find a good recipe and make adjustments as you go along. It is the same with music. If you are trying to learn a violin concerto, a great place to start is with someone who has already done it.
2. Attend a concert
Going to performances is one of my favorite things to do. Although our current options for hearing live music are not the same as they have been in the past, there are a lot of new ways to stream music from home. Being able to see a performer adds an experience to the music that we aren’t able to get just by listening alone. We are able to see how the stage is setup and how performers move and interact with one another. It’s also a great way to show support for our fellow artists and build a sense of community. Some of my favorites that will be streaming soon are the Belin Quartet and the Des Moines Metro Opera.
3. Use technology
Technology in the music studio is something that has yet to take off in the pedagogy world. Most of us are teaching lessons virtually, so I think this would be a great time to introduce our students (and ourselves) to some of the great apps out there! The great part about using technology is that students can study on their own and get immediate feedback. Students could practice note naming, study theory, improve their ear, and get excited about learning. Some of my favorite music apps are Theory Lessons and Tenuto.
4. Get out in nature
I think one of the biggest things that can spark creativity is a new environment. Nature can be a great place to gain new ideas. I love to go on trails and see wildlife. The fresh air can help clear my mind and allow me to see things from a different and even new perspective. Much like when we are learning music, it is important to continue finding different ways to see our music. Two of my favorites are Jester Park and the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge.
5. Challenge yourself
This can be a hard one, but definitely something that pays off over time. Sometimes it is good to play something that might be a little too hard for us at the current moment. I have started pieces that I wasn’t able to play because I was not ready for them, but I ended up learning so much about myself and about music. I think we are too afraid of having to be successful all of the time. It is okay if we can’t play a piece or if we need more time learning something than others. The important part is that we are always trying to improve ourselves.
Many things can spark inspiration from finding someone to look up to, exploring new ways to learn, and finding ways to challenge ourselves. Summer can be a hard time to stay inspired because we are out of our normal routine, but it can be a good time to catch up on some things we normally don’t have time for. I hope you are able to use some of these tips to keep interested in your pieces and stay inspired this summer.