4 Ways to Deal With Musical Frustration
by Rodrigo Sanchez, Sep 17, 2021 . 4 min read
These 4 ways to deal with musical frustration can save you a lot of grief. We’ve all been there, for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, sometimes we feel that we are not making progress on the instrument. Secondly, we feel limited by time, money, and other realities of life. Thirdly, sometimes it seems like the music industry is rotten. Well, it’s hard to argue with that, but we can also opt to look on the bright side of things.
Whatever the case may be, musical frustration comes in different shapes, for different reasons, and at varying times. The good news is that there are ways to deal effectively with these waves of negativity. Here I give you the 4 ways to deal with musical frustration.
Read up on the masters
One of the most effective ways to deal with frustration in music is finding out that the masters went through very similar moments. Did you know that the Beatles were first rejected by every record label in the UK but one? Or that John Mayer’s seminal and best-selling record Continuum was deemed a no-hits album by a label executive? There’s also Adele’s near career-ending vocal cords surgery.
Endless obstacles and the frustration that ensues is a common state that almost all musicians face, especially the great ones. Take the time to go through biographies, articles, and documentaries on your favorite musicians. You’ll gain new insight on just how hard it is to have a career in music, and how these masters battled musical frustration, and more. From Miles Davis and Joe Satriani to Sting and Jimi Hendrix, their stories reveal hardships that many don’t know about.
Practice deliberately and effectively
It is important to understand what good practice actually is. To put it in simple terms, you should work on stuff that is hard for you, on trying to play things that you currently can’t play, and that brings you closer to your goals. In other words, practicing is not jamming along with your favorite C major metal track from YouTube and doing nothing else.
If you are practicing the right way, you will undoubtedly see progress. Add to add, having a place, schedule, and overall approach to practice where this activity actually becomes a priority in your life. Additionally, it should be done every day.
Take a hard look at your goals
In order to get somewhere, you need to go where you are going. You want to become a good blues guitarist? There are several paths for that, and many things you can be doing right now to accomplish that. You want to play in a killer cover band that has steady gigs? You can do it if you put your mind to it!
However, goals like being a rock star to flying private on tour are a bit deformed. In other words, these goals have very little to do with music and will most likely put you on a path to disappointment. After all, becoming a rock star involves a plethora of circumstances that are completely out of your control, never mind defining what a rock star is. This leads us to the next point.
Focus on the things you can control
You can control how good you are able to play jazz standards, through constant practice and time. You can also control how good a songwriter you become, by writing a lot and figuring out how great songs are constructed. These are things you can control, and they are limitless.
However, you cannot control what kind of music the record labels are currently interested in signing. You also cannot control events like the Covid-19 crisis and its effect on live music.
Focus on the things you can control, of which there are many. It’s impossible to overstress the importance of this point.
These four ways of dealing with musical frustration will help you get through some rough times. By realizing that all musicians go through rough patches of deep frustration, we begin to understand that low moments are part of life in general. Add to that practice, clear goals and focus on the things we can control, and you’ll have a better grasp on frustration and how to deal with it. Make no mistake: you will experience musical frustration, but it is how you deal with it that makes all the difference.