There comes a point in the journey of a musician when it’s not just about playing with an instrument and learning, there is a lot of trial and error, boring parts, persistence, necessary rest and a few more battles which sometimes can take a toll on creativity and the natural flow of composition and music making.

This burn-out can come in many forms but the most common is when music has become your job or a main objective in life, this makes the time for music very precious and makes us think as musicians that we have to make the most of it.

Burn-out is is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that is often caused by stress. It happens when you feel overwhelmed, drained and tired. In music this sort of attitude will take away your motivation and even make you doubt why you chose to be a musician in the first place.

In order to accomplish the general goal of a musician, there are some obstacles to overcome that can become very tiring and can potentially trigger this burn-out state.

The great Prog. Rock band Rush, experienced this at one point during their career, singer and bassist Geddy Lee said:

“Neil wasn’t too happy then, but neither was the rest of us, we were burned out on tour and not playing too well and not caring about it—that’s the worst. You just go on stage and do another show, but you’re not all there. It’s too much on automatic pilot.”


Composition is the first step when making music, and it’s usually not that frustrating, unless you find yourself stuck and no creativity comes from your mind. At this point many musicians sometimes go against this feeling directly only to find themselves with greater frustration and eventually feel burned out.


Recording music can be one of the longest most frustrating parts of music, not only because you have to perform the best way possible, but also all the technical things around it makes every detail a very particular weight to carry.


Having people you care about support you in what you do is always important, this is no different when it comes to music. This sort of support can come in the form of family, friends and love interests.

Not only will the people around you make you stronger but also the people who listens to your music, as this will reinforce the fact that you are indeed making good music, and it’s not just support from people who loves you.

Money Making

It shouldn’t be that common for musicians to feel burned out right? it’s supposed to be something to feel happy, feel good no matter how much deep in the music industry you are as a musician, but in many cases today, music can be just about making money, and when art becomes a product everything else starts to fall apart.

Even in the early stages of a musicians project, there has to be a second source of income, so that music isn’t shackled by the basic needs, even though it may be able to cover them later on.

Make music because you love music.

The Life Outside Music Making

Getting obsessed with “getting things done” is often one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to preventing being burned out. Of course things have to get done, and more often than not you can’t decide to have all the time in the world, however, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from music and just enjoy everything else.

Taking some time to practice something else, whether it is another art, a sport, or a hobby, will not just make you relax but also find inspiration for your music.

In the end music speaks about everything that happens in life, if a musician tries to make something from nothing without even a spark of inspiration from something that he lived, then nothing will come to life and he will most likely feel burned out.

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Have you ever felt burn-out in your teaching?  Perhaps you put all your energy and time into teaching your students, whether they be 3 or 123.  Now, after several months of intense teaching without a substantial break, it is time to strategize and rejuvenate.  Not all in the following blog are my own ideas… many have been contributed by wonderful fellow teachers in the business who have experienced what many of you may be facing at the moment.

  1. Attend Workshops – by attending music workshops, those creative juices will begin flowing again!  Be inspired by others in the business, discover new ways to present a topic to your students, and enjoy what you do. Other conferences through the Music Teacher’s Association (MTA) also are great opportunities to meet others.  www.mtna.org
  2. Schedule Breaks – take a day off.  Sleep in.  Get a manicure.  Get a massage.  Eat Chocolate.  Take care of you (the teacher)!
  3. Break the routine up by scheduling various types of recitals (formal & relaxed, themes, Christmas camp, summer workshops, and much more)!  This not only helps the teacher, but provides a great means of motivation for all the students.
  4. Try something new… new music and new games for your students will help them stay motivated and energized about music.  Move the equipment and instruments around in your studio space, so it seems new.  Perhaps have all your students of a certain levels spend most of their lesson time on computer software (highlight or find new computer games for the lab through www.musiclearningcommunity.com).  Or, have everyone work on duets for the recital.  Teach your students to dance a Minuet.
  5. Put on an uplifting CD and just listen to the music without worrying about the technical aspects and fretting about how to analyze the structure with a student.  🙂  Watch a DVD, crank it, sing, dance, and remind yourself that there IS joy in music.
  6. Join online groups and share.  Knowing that you are NOT alone is very helpful.  Yahoo Groups is a great source for camaraderie in music studio aspects and issues of all kinds.
  7. If there are any students who particular curl your toenails the minute they walk in the studio… find a way to remove them from your studio or address the issues in a pleasant way.
  8. Organize a fun incentive program going on each year… and don’t do the same one twice in a row.

Just know you are not alone.   [···]

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