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How to Avoid Musical Burnout

The Best Way to Tackle The Most Common Problem in Musicians

If you’re just singing or playing your pieces through, you’re not actually getting any better.

Hey guys I’m going to talk to you today about what to do when you start getting tired of the piece of music that you’re working on in your lessons.

I had a student that actually brought this up in her lesson. We were like okay what are we going to work on today and she was saying well I’m kind of tired of one of my pieces.

I feel like I sing it through and I’m not really sure if it’s getting any better and I’m kind of getting sick of it and I don’t know what to do.

And that brought us to start a conversation about what she said. 

What do you do when you get sick of a piece but you’re not really sure if it’s getting any better?

I said oh that’s a really good thought and so I’ll tell you.

What I told her is in college I was working in I was a music major obviously and I would practice for a couple hours a day.

And on those pieces that I would get from my teacher, I would practice with those pieces.

Did I get tired of them? Absolutely! I got to a point where I kind of despised or even quote-unquote “hated” the music for a lack of better term. But did I still work on it?

Yes, and here’s why.

When you first get a piece sometimes you get to this point of being in love with it or being really passionate about it, loving how it sounds, and really being excited about it.

And then as you start working with it your teacher might say modify this vowel, this note is a little bit flat, we need to change this, we need to change that

And then all of a sudden you’re thinking about those things and not so much about how much you love the music.

Is that okay? Yes, that’s absolutely part of the process that we have. And then in doing that you will practice those things.

Do you lose sight of loving the music during this time? Maybe, probably yes.

But here’s what the important aspect is of practicing it so much, that all of a sudden it becomes autopilot on how you do the technical things.

So for example say that there was a note in the phrase that your teacher is like oh that’s flat, or that needs to be a little bit brighter, or we need to change vocal modification in some sort of way.

And then say that it was sitting out here I would try the different techniques that my teacher would tell me to do until I felt like okay I’ve got that one note right. And then what I do is the chunking method.

The Chunking Method

The chunking method is the most effective way for practicing that I have found. Then I would take say the note before that so say the number before that was like e and then oh.

And I was like oh am I getting the right place on that so ee. I would see if I could get in that right place and then I would take a couple of months before that.

And am I getting that in the right place? And then sometimes you’ll be like oh yeah that one note is totally not in the right place anymore.

So then I have to backtrack and keep working on that.

Is it tedious? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. Are you singing through the pieces? Probably not. If you’re doing this method, then that’s exactly how it should be.

Because if you’re just singing your pieces through, you’re not actually getting any better. I mean sometimes it might be like oh I was trying to remember what my teacher said.

I might remember a few things as I’m singing it through, or like in the shower and singing it through.

But it’s a very very different level of progress that you would make if you were just singing things through a couple times a week than if you were actually doing the chunking method.

So what this method looks like in your lesson: you have your folder, you have your music, right and you’re making notes your teacher says do this, write it down, you write every single thing down and then the lesson is done you go home.

Or if it’s an online lesson then at your next practice session you actually open this up, and you say okay what did my teacher say, oh this doesn’t need to be this.

And then I’ll practice that first and then once I feel like I’ve gotten that to the point of not just getting it right one time, but being like oh yeah significantly I can do this every time I get to this part, I know and then I take a bigger chunk. Instead of just one note, I take a bigger chunk. Maybe it’s a couple of notes before, or the sentence before and see if I can still master that technique when I get to that point. And only then can I add more, then add a little more bit by bit.

This means that you might not actually sing through your piece by the time you get to your next lesson.

Is it more tedious? Yes. But do you want to progress in a way that’s actually real? Yes, because sometimes we have students that yes they want to get better, but they don’t understand oh I need to put work outside of my lesson time.

Of course, if you’re having lessons each week you can get better and better and better, but the progress might be like this because you’re not really putting in any outside time. Or maybe you’re singing through your pieces or maybe memorizing them but you’re not really trying to perfect the techniques or work on breathing or placement things that your teacher is really working hard on with you.

Then we have other students that might do the chunking method, and then they go home and they work on each little individual section that we say to work on. And then they come back and that becomes natural to them.

Guess what, at that point where you practice so much that it becomes natural for it to be in the right place, or the right placement using the breath in a positive way, then all of a sudden you can come back to the creative mode.

You can come back to like let’s make this music beautiful. Let’s do this, let’s do that, let’s do this.

Let’s feel all of these things you can do after you feel like you’re perfecting the technique.

Now can you do both at the same time? Yes. But in most happenstances, it’s better for you to feel like you can successfully do the technical things, go on autopilot, and you can do that.

And then you can actually enjoy the music because you’re not thinking so much about oh is this vowel right, is this probable right. And so that’s the technique that I like to do is chunking.

It requires more time, it’s more tedious but it’s absolutely more effective and you will find that your progress is better. And then once you practice things that way you can actually enjoy your music later on.

So you sit with pieces for longer. Maybe you go through a period of hating it, or not liking it as much, but that’s what you do.

Then you get to the level you get to a whole other level that sometimes you would never ever be able to get to if you didn’t use the chunking method. And then you’re able to really enjoy it on a whole different level alright.

So that’s how you can get to the point of loving your music even if you’re working on it in a technical way. And what to do if you feel like you’re getting sick of your music, and also the best practice technique for you to do.

Alright, see you later!

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