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Climbing Out of that Rut: A Guide for Musicians

Bass in case

Q: I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a rut lately. Do you have any advice for how to climb out of this thing??

A: To start, I want to say that ruts can be a good thing, because they’re usually followed by a breakthrough. The trick is that you have to push your way through and never let it beat you down.

When we get stuck in a rut, I tend to think there are only two viable paths to take at that moment:

Hyper-Focused Practice

Get hyper-focused with your practice routine and really push the envelope.

Try to lock into one thing you want to focus.

Break that thing down into the simplest form, and explore as thoroughly as possible from the ground up.

This approach can help you rediscover what you already know from a different angle, or it may reveal something completely new to you. Either way, new information often leads to inspiration which is a fast track out of your rut.

Take a Break

Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break, literally. Practicing, gigging, teaching, recording – and all the non-musical stuff on top – can take a toll. Sometimes we run out of gas, which can lead to lack of interest or motivation, which can lead to losing the enjoyment for making music. Sometimes, playing more is not the answer. When this time comes, take a mini-vacation and don’t let guilt change your course. Relax, and you should find that inspiration returns.

Give it the old college try and work even harder and if you feel like you’re simply banging your head against the wall after a reasonable amount of time? Go on a bass-cation.

Readers, what’s your approach to climbing out of a musical rut? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by Lee Carson

Have a question for Damian? Send it to askdamian@notreble.com. Check out Damian’s instructional books at the No Treble Shop.

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