Stuck in a Musical Rut? Here’s How to Get Out

CoachellaLeave it to Coachella to put together such a diverse, mind-blowing line-up – now if only we could afford the $285 weekend pass!  Headliners for this year’s annual music festival include Radiohead and Snoop Dogg, but we’re also excited about The Shins, Feist, Florence + the Machine, and the newly-reunited At the Drive-In – among many others!

For anyone who has attended a music festival of this magnitude, you know just how awesome it can feel to be surrounded by thousands of other music fans like yourself.  And besides seeing the top performers in the music world, checking out the up-and-comers is a great way to expand your tastes, also.  No matter what kind of musician you are – professional, beginner, or just a fan – sometimes discovering new acts is all it takes to break out of a musical rut.

Still stuck?  Sometimes it happens.  For more ideas, check out this list from Joe Walker at for making your way out of the dreaded musical rut:

1. Compose. The best way to make yourself feel productive is to produce! Make yourself some deadlines and create musical ideas often, whether they’re 2-measure licks or 2-hour symphonies.
2. Start a journal or blog. Even if you’re working on some mundane finger exercise, you’ll probably have some thoughts about it. Keeping a practice journal is a great way to track your progress and keep your current goals visible in the future.
3. Learn more songs. If you’re worried that your abilities aren’t improving, forget about it for a while and spend some time expanding your repertoire. Keep a list of all the songs you know, and add all the easy ones you can.
4. Practice in a new setting. Move to a different room. Go outside. Take your instrument on a trip.
5. Listen to something different. Try an internet music service like or Spotify, click through the genres until you find some sub-sub-genre you’ve never heard of, and just listen for a few hours.
6. For guitarists, switch to lefty/righty. Some of the guitar’s greatest masters unlocked their music by flipping a right-handed guitar over to be played left-handed. It’s awkward, but you might discover something new.
7. Take a break. If you’ve been practicing constantly, try stopping for a while. You might come back like a slingshot.
8. Take up a new instrument. Simple enough!
9. Join a band. This is the best musical kick in the pants you can ever give yourself. You must uphold a commitment not only to your audience to perform well, but also to your bandmates to prepare for rehearsals and behave like a professional musician.
10. Go to a jam session. There is less commitment involved, but it gets you in front of listeners and meeting other musicians.

What other ways have you gotten out of a musical rut?  Tell us your own solutions by leaving a comment below!

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