The Number-One Motivator of Music Practice

Photo of two hands playing a piano keyboard“With a commitment on your calendar, your practice becomes targeted toward an exhilarating purpose.”
-The Musician’s Way,
p. 108

Some musicians relish daily practice; others struggle to work consistently.

Whatever our relationship with practice might be, there’s one thing that will motivate us to practice intensely: an upcoming performance.

To be deeply motivating, though, a performance commitment should match our abilities, support our goals, and fit our style.

In contrast, if musicians agree to perform music that outstrips their abilities or that isn’t to their taste, a concert can feel more like a burden than a joy.

Motivating Performances Suited to Diverse Musicians
I’ve found that student musicians perform less than they might, and, as a result, many wrestle with performance anxiety.

To become fearless performers, students need abundant opportunities to try out performance techniques, build skills, and learn to unleash their creativity on stage.

Here are examples of motivating performances suited to rising musicians of diverse levels.

  1. Performances in master classes, workshops, coaching sessions
  2. Concerts in community venues such as churches, museums, synagogues, libraries (multiple less-advanced musicians can perform short selections at the same events)
  3. Competitions and auditions
  4. Recitals at music schools and festivals
  5. Recording sessions
  6. Gigs at coffee shops, pubs, receptions

To prepare for such performances, it’s crucial that students incorporate practice performances into their schedules, as described on pages 199-201 of The Musician’s Way.

Becoming a Fearless Performer
If performing feels risky to you, take heart. With steady, deliberate practice, you can build up your skills and become the performing artist you aspire to be.

Sure, you can just play or sing for yourself in the privacy of your practice room. But music, at its heart, is a social art form.

So I hope that you’ll share your love of music far and wide, even if doing so takes you out of your comfort zone.

In the words of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”*

The Musician’s Way provides comprehensive guidelines for aspiring musicians to practice creatively and present commanding performances.

Related posts
The Benefits of Accessible Music
Practicing Performance
The Self-Motivated Musician
Stoking Motivation

© 2014 Gerald Klickstein
Adapted from The Musician’s Way, p. 108
Photo © Alenavlad, licensed from Shutterstock.com
*The Musician’s Way, p. 109

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5 Responses to “The Number-One Motivator of Music Practice”

  1. Franis Engel said:

    Mar 27, 14 at 18:39

    You forgot to mention the party scene! Most of my fledgeling performance experiences have come from joining in with other musicians informally at parties.

  2. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Mar 27, 14 at 22:54

    Excellent case example, Franis. Thanks for contributing!

  3. Edward van der Ree said:

    Apr 06, 14 at 12:41

    Yeah there are lots of ways to get your music out there, got to be motivated of course in the end :)

  4. Lukas said:

    May 20, 14 at 09:54

    One thing that really helped me to become consistent with practicing is to always do a video recording once I am done with a new song and publish it on my Youtube channel.

    I think there are 2 main reasons why this is helpful:
    1, if I want to record a song, first I need to finish it – this helps to keep my focus
    2, turning on a camera is always a little bit stressful so I can improve my ability to play well under pressure

    Thanks for a nice article!

  5. Gerald Klickstein said:

    May 20, 14 at 09:58

    Thanks for contributing, Lukas – terrific example!