6 Reasons Your Musicality Has Stalled

Worship leader
How can you rekindle your joy for music? (Lightstock)

In this post, I'm going to outline six reasons that your musicality isn't as strong as it could be, in hopes that you'll re-imagine your instrument and rediscover the joy of music.

1. You're stressed. It's impossible to avoid stress, but it's an acquired skill to ignore it. Your best music will be played when you're relaxed. Before showtime, develop a ritual that helps you relax. Ever hear of Michael Phelps? Yep—he approached every competition with the same routine. It helped him not only relax but visualize the win. Go for a walk, massage your hands, take deep breaths, trust the Holy Spirit to work in and through you.

2. Your instrument doesn't feel natural. The best musicians, by far, are those who have developed a close relationship with their instrument. Please, don't misunderstand me and start taking your guitar on movie dates. That's the fast track to complete social awkwardness. What I mean is that you've worked with, held and practiced your instrument enough that it feels like a natural part of you. Any musician who just starts to play an instrument lacks this. But it can be done, and it doesn't have to take 10,000 hours.

3. You're too critical. Most musicians have perfectionist tendencies. This can be harnessed for good or for ill. On the bright side, you're driven to accomplish. You want to get it right. On the other hand, you can become so critical of your performance that you never enjoy it. You never actually step into your full potential because you're wasting too much emotional and mental energy hating on yourself. Reserve that energy for being expressive, loving the sounds you're creating, and getting lost in the music.

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4. You don't practice creativity. Learning and mimicking another musician is a great thing—a fantastic way to learn quickly. But too many musicians never move on from this. They don't learn how to improvise, take risks, try new things, create their own melodies, and innovate. Yes, you should mimic and learn from others. But be sure to create space in your schedule for creating something new. Become fascinated with tone, sound, melody and harmony again.

I challenge my students all the time: Create something new every day. Sit with your instrument and just get started. Stop over-thinking, over-analyzing and judging. Just flow with the music.

5. Your heart seems disconnected. Great music has more to do with the heart than you may think. It's not just about technical prowess and perfect execution. Great musicians feel something. They want to express something. They want to influence, inspire, encourage, change the atmosphere with their playing.

So try this: The next time you play in front of people, don't just play the part. Visualize the glory of God in your mind, and use your instrument to express that for others. Help them see a little clearer, feel a little deeper.

6. You're not sharing your gift. One of the fastest ways to stall as a musician is to only play music for yourself. When you don't have a place to play, people to play for, and you're not counted on as a part of a team, you'll stop growing. Music was meant to be shared. Don't just wait for opportunities; seize them. Don't just wait for paid gigs. Get out there and play all you can.

On another note, some of you may need to set a deadline for a song you're writing, a project you've dreamed about, a musical idea you've had brewing. Creativity begets creativity. You may never know what's possible until you release your work.

Music is a journey. We'll never unravel the full possibilities of what we can do with it. So shake off the dust, and approach your instrument with a fresh perspective.

There's a world waiting to hear your creations.

Question: What inspires you to keep growing as a musician? How do you keep it fresh? Please leave a comment below.

David Santistevan is the worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh. For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.

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