Remember your first week in self-isolation? #STAYHOME seemed like fun. Everything was awesome. You slept in every single day and binge-watched your favorite shows without having any pressure to do something else. You might have had to study or work from home, but for the rest of the time, you could focus on your music as much as you wanted, with no social obligations to disturb your flow. Time seemed to fly. But how about now?
Let’s fast-forward to week five, and things are not that peachy anymore. The bed doesn’t seem like an exciting place to be and it feels like you’ve already watched every tv show ever made. There’s also something wrong with getting fresh inspiration for your music creation. Time is standing still and you feel bored. If even the walls start to feel closer than before, it’s time to pivot! Feel uninspired? It’s time to challenge yourself. If you feel stuck, it’s time to grow. One of the best ways to leverage all this free time on your hands is to learn some great new skills that you can use in your own music creation.
While keeping in touch with your fans is more important than ever, you shouldn’t forget about keeping in touch with yourself either. To make the most out of your temporary isolation, we’ve collected 9 great ideas for how to do something useful with your time and improve yourself as a musician. We have some great resources that will hopefully inspire you to get those creative juices flowing.
It’s also important to note that if you don’t feel the need of being productive all the time, that’s perfectly fine. Many of us have a more difficult time getting things done in the midst of a global pandemic, and no one should feel forced to be productive. The most important thing is to take care of yourself, allow the rest to come to you naturally.
While you might have invested a lot of money in your music gear, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you know everything about it. You might be playing it safe and sticking to the same routines. However, the more you know about your gear, the more creative you will become when using it. If you’re not a big fan of manuals and tutorials, maybe now is a good time to look into them and learn something new to maximize their potential.
Once you really grasp how something works, maintenance will be smooth sailing and you might even be able to fix it yourself if something goes wrong. If you have an electric guitar but you have no idea what a truss rod is, look it up! Playing the drums but unsure what a lug is? Find out! If you have a MIDI controller but you don’t fully understand what control change value does, read up on it. Google is usually your friend, and you know there’s a tutorial for literally everything on YouTube.
Learning a new instrument might be easier than you think, and it has tons of benefits when it comes to your creative endeavors. Remember how excited and inspired you were when you learned how to play your favorite songs on your first instrument? You can experience that amazing feeling again and again if you pick up a new instrument. While rediscovering the joys of playing, you will get the chance to think like a beginner once again. Furthermore, this learning process will help you get better at your main instrument. Win-win!
Don’t know which instrument to choose? Here’s a quiz to find your next creative challenge! ➞ Go to quiz!
Once you find out what to learn next, here are some great resources to get started:
Getting started in the music industry is definitely not a small feat. So if you’re serious about pursuing a career in music, learning about the music business is something you should prioritize. No matter how tedious it seems, you can’t expect to establish a sustainable career unless you have a basic understanding of the industry. And this is where many aspiring artists make a mistake. However, we cannot stress enough the importance of understanding the business side of things. Since the industry keeps changing all the time, it’s good to learn the basics and keep up to date with the state of things – especially for your own protection.
Learning something new while the world is standing still can inspire you in ways you have never imagined. And there are a lot of good reasons why you should make it a habit. Seeking out intellectual challenges can broaden your horizons and revitalize your mental health. Learning something new is like using a muscle you haven’t used for a long time or you didn’t even know existed. You might experience some pain initially, and it might feel worse before it feels better, but once you’re on the right track, the hard work will pay off. Signing up for a course can even be considered quality “me time”, and it shouldn’t feel like a chore that needs to be completed but a fun activity that you truly enjoy.
If you are a synthesizer enthusiast with a flair for expensive gear, you probably know that spending a full year’s salary in five minutes is far from impossible. On the contrary! However, that will probably not make you too popular if your partner doesn’t share your enthusiasm, or if you have several mouths to feed. Luckily for you, the internet comes to the rescue once again!
The wonderful world of synth apps and entertaining music-making apps is worth taking a look at. We know they are far from being the real thing, however they might come super handy in your arsenal of music producing tools. Get some fresh inspiration for your producing skills, and have a blast while you’re saving up for a Moog System 55.
While it’s great to keep growing and learning new skills all by yourself, nothing beats learning by collaborating with others. There’s so much to gain by opening up for new ways to create and collaborate. Besides broadening your perspectives and gaining additional knowledge, you could also play a major role in strengthening the independent music community. Sharing ideas, giving and receiving feedback from your peers, and getting some insight into other fellow musicians’ processes can do wonders for your own creativity. One way or the other, collaboration has always been the key to long-lasting success. Now that those impromptu jam sessions with your friends in your basement are unlikely to happen, move your practice online and find fellow strangers who are just as eager and curious to collaborate as you are.
What if we told you that you don’t need to be MacGyver to be able to make your own instruments at home? Obviously, we don’t expect you to build a grand piano out of flower petals and toilet paper, but there are tons of simple and fun ideas you can try. Combine your love of crafts and music, and as a bonus, you might even feel like a child again. Besides the fact that you will feel accomplished and proud of your creations, crafting can also have a variety of benefits on your mental health. All you need to decide is what to make! How about some maracas? Or maybe a guitar? Once you’re done, your next challenge is to find a way to incorporate these new instruments into your current repertoire.
Stuck in a rut? You might need to get out of your comfort zone and schedule a creativity date with yourself. Spice up your music-making process by inviting your friends and fellow musicians of the independent community to join you in a weekly songwriting challenge. All you need to do is to set a different theme or genre for every week and have a blast! Work with trending themes such as ‘isolation’, ‘social distancing’ or write a song about the next trip you’ll take once this is all over. If you normally produce hip-hop, try to make some techno beats. If you haven’t tried working with vocals, now is the time. Think outside the box and enjoy! If you don’t have anyone to collaborate with and you’d rather join others who already have experience in this, check out this lively Reddit thread.
You might not be familiar with this old joke, but a lot of musicians still giggle whenever they hear it. A pedestrian on 57th Street in New York sees a musician getting out of a cab and asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The artist replies, “Practice, practice, practice!” Indeed, practice is the only way to get where you want to, and no one else can do it for you. Setting goals and setting practice times will help you get organized and if you need some inspiration to keep progressing, scroll back to the top of this article and let the fun begin!