When learning something new, regardless of what it is, our lack of progression can turn into a lack of interest. As students of musical instruments, we look back and consider all the time and money we spent trying to learn a musical instrument and wonder – should I quit playing music?
Have you ever asked yourself, should I continue putting time into it? Am I even any good? Is it time to give up? I don’t plan on starting a music career, why bother trying? If these questions have come to mind, continue reading and we’ll help you decide if you should quit playing music.
Learn How To Learn
Before we get started, you may want to question your learning abilities. This is a topic of its own so I’ll recommend Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive, by Kevin Horsely. You’d be surprised how “learning how to learn” can help you develop new learning strategies when learning a musical instrument.
The Struggle is Real
The struggle to keep practicing can be a constant battle. Sometimes it feels like you’re progressing and climbing the learning ladder until one day, you hit a brick wall. All of a sudden, you’re playing feels like you’re back to square one.
Get Some Distance
First thing you can do is take a step back. Take a break. Put the instrument down and don’t practice for the next few days. The last thing you want to do is give up on impulse. Impulse is never a great way to make a decision. I’m still regretting that Pee Wee Herman tattoo I got in Vegas!
The next few days should be spent focusing on everything else but learning to play your musical instrument. Read a book, watch a movie, go out with some friends. Do you get the picture?
Fresh mind, Fresh Start
Your mind will soon be clear of all that negative energy surrounding your thoughts of quitting. Now, without any preconceived thoughts or plans, pick up your instrument (in some cases sit behind it) and just play. You will notice the ease with which you are playing. Let that “should I quit music question” leave your mind. Capitalize on it and soak in the instrument.
Those little mistakes that frustrated you in the beginning, now, do not matter. In fact, this whole experience is allowing you to fall in love with playing a musical instrument again.
If clearing your mind has sent you back into a frustration zone and feel that there is still no progress, it may be time to restructure your practice routines. You might need to find another teacher or go online and watch different music teachers or mentors. There may be someone else that will be able to help you see things differently.
Everyone has different learning methods. It is important to remember that if someone can learn an instrument in a year does not mean it will take you the same amount of time. It may take you 2 years or it may even take you six months. Whether you’re full time or part-time, the question is, how focused can you be during your practice routines?
A different routine could mean a different perspective. For example, instead of starting with practice scales on a piano or snare rudiments on the drum kit, there might be another method or routine that can help your progress at a steady incline rather than a downward spiral. Frustrations will only keep you from your natural flow of progression.
In The Key Of Perception
You might be told that anyone can learn anything. Unfortunately, physical disabilities can hinder the process but not entirely defeat you. There are people that can play piano with their feet as there are drummers that play with a missing leg. If they overcame such incredible hardships and never asked themselves, “should I quit music,” then maybe you shouldn’t either!
Put yourself in a state of mind that will have your undivided attention and focus. It’s up to you. You get back what you put in.
Did I Choose The Wrong Musical Instrument?
Alternatively, you might actually be playing the wrong instrument. Ask yourself that question, why am I playing instrument X? You might want to play guitar because it just seems cooler than bass or you might want to play piano because it’s more of a classical instrument.
You might be beating a dead horse by trying to play an instrument that doesn’t feel right so why not try something else. That doesn’t mean you will never get back to playing the guitar or piano but it does mean that you can perfect another instrument.
I, myself, have been playing drums for 28 years and counting. However, I do pick up a guitar from time to time because I enjoy writing music. It facilitates the writing process by being able to give my guitar riffs some life with a drum groove. If there’s time to lay down a simple bass line behind it as well, it can always help bring the song together.
You could also look a little deeper into yourself as to why you started playing an instrument in the first place. Maybe it was for the wrong reasons and it’s starting to show or maybe it was all for the right reasons but you haven’t invested the right amount of time. Either way, I strongly suggest never letting go because learning anything new is always an added in life.
Ever take a physics class in high school and wonder: when would you ever have to calculate the force of friction? The logic behind it is only to fuse links in your brain and develop logic and memory. It’s always good to know that when you come across a piano or guitar at a friend’s house, you can always get behind it and make something musical.
How To Get Inspired To Play Music
The most frustrating part about learning an instrument is never being able to sound like a “professional musician.” Sometimes that can be a good thing because it lets you set milestones and increase your practice time to reach them. However, it can be discouraging if years go by and you still can’t play a simple song. This is probably when the “should I quit music” question comes along.
This is where I can suggest a few things that might help you get passed that hurdle.
- Meet and hang with musicians
Networking with musicians can help you gain some knowledge and advice that can’t be found anywhere else.
- Videotape yourself and post it online
Getting suggestions from an online community can only help you grow. Join an online group that caters to your instrument and genre.
- Record yourself using your phone or computer
Sometimes listening to yourself play can help point out your mistakes. Review the audio and listen for some of those “learned” mistakes. Spend time correcting yourself during your practice routines.
- Get a metronome or drum sequencer
This is my favorite point. If a metronome sounds too boring for you and you have some extra money to spend, why not get a drum sequencer with pre-programmed drum grooves. Play along and try new things. Great start to being creative.
- Sign up for online lessons
Online lessons is a great alternative and time saver. Get advice from top musicians around the world in your own home. This option was not available 10 years ago. Gotta love technology. Check out our JamPlay review and take advantage of our coupon codes for online guitar lessons!
- Look up your local music school
If you would rather have a one-n-one lesson up close and personal, why not go the old fashioned way since it’s been a great way for many musicians.
- Unlearn your mistakes
This is a tough one but takes time and lots of focus. Having a time machine would have been a better option but in this case, you will need to roll back and start from scratch. This topic needs its own post 🙂
- Invest in a proper instrument
This is not the answer but can be a motivator. A better instrument can mean a better sound and maybe easier to play. It’s not fun when your starter guitar keeps going out of tune or your snare drum keeps falling off its low budget hardware. Good gear goes a long way.
- Go out and watch local performers
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars to watch big concerts, opt for bands or musicians playing the local bar or small venue. You will have a front-row view of each musician from any angle you choose. Plus, it’s always nice to support local talent; the backbone of the music industry.
- Watch documentaries on your favorite music
This one was a favorite when I was growing up. Watching A Year and a Half with the Life of Metallica over and over made me understand what it takes to write, record and tour a full-length record. Times have changed but the grind is the same. Understanding the where and why can be relatable and understanding the effort to be great, can be motivational … or completely discouraging hahaha! Success is in the eye of the beholder. 😉
Should I Quit Playing Music? The Bottom Line
In conclusion, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something new! In my opinion, if you’ve come this far, it means that your musical instrument has a place in your life and giving up shouldn’t be an option!