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6 Ways to Overcome Musical Plateaus and Keep Growing

Committing to a career in music comes with a lot of highs and lows, peaks and plateaus – it’s just the nature of the industry, regardless of how good you are at what you do. It’s absolutely normal for musicians to experience periods where progress seems slow, which can leave you feeling frustrated and uninspired. 


6 Ways to Overcome Musical Plateaus and Keep Growing6 Ways to Overcome Musical Plateaus and Keep GrowingSurviving a Slump: 6 Ways to Overcome Musical Plateaus and Keep Growing

These plateaus are a natural part of the learning process, and if you’re willing to be open to them, they can offer opportunities for growth and development. For the most part, however, dealing with plateaus in your music career is mostly about being patient, not giving up, and trying to continue fueling your creative side. But this can be easier said than done.


If you’re experiencing a bit of a slump in your music career, don’t panic. There are several steps you can take to keep yourself going and give yourself the best possible opportunity to get your career back on top again. 


  1. Set Yourself Clear and Specific Goals

If you feel like your music career has reached a plateau, you need to make a concerted effort to set yourself new goals. Just because there’s not much action right now doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for more to happen in the future. 


That’s why it’s important to identify what you want and what your goals are. This will ensure that when opportunities do arise, you still have your eye firmly on the prize and can identify what suits your prospects. 


When setting your goals, define what you want to achieve. You can break this down into:

  • Technical skills

  • Musical expression

  • Repertoire 


By breaking down your bigger, long-term goals into smaller, more achievable milestones you can identify what you can do now to get closer to your ultimate goal. Then, you can create a plan to work towards each micro-goal systematically, and eventually, reach your final goal. 


  1. Explore New Genres and Styles

Sometimes, hitting a plateau can make you feel a bit lost. But in some ways, this is the best time to explore new styles and genres of music. It can be incredibly refreshing to step outside of your comfort zone and expose yourself to different musical traditions, from classical to jazz, rock, dub or reggae, and so much more. 


Learning new styles challenges your musical abilities and expands your musical horizons. It also has the potential to reignite your passion for playing and providing fresh inspiration for your practice. Who knows? You may even find something new that tickles your fancy and helps move your career in a new direction!


  1. Seek Guidance and Feedback

Whether you’re in a place of success or experiencing a plateau, there’s always something to be gained from seeking guidance and feedback from experienced musicians, mentors, and teachers. It can help provide you with a fresh perspective that can offer valuable insights and identify areas where you can improve. Your music should never exist in a vacuum, and other people’s opinions and feedback can help to shape you as a musician.


Consider taking lessons with a knowledgeable instructor or doing an online music industry course to expand your horizons and get professional feedback and inspiration. You can also  participate in workshops, online forums, or masterclasses where you’ll have the opportunity to receive guidance and constructive criticism from your peers and experts in the musical community.


  1. Focus on Your Technique and Fundamentals

When you have extra time, focus on technique and fundamentals. This provides the perfect opportunity to hone your skills and improve your playing ability. In fact, a plateau in your musical career may even occur as a result of your technical limitations, so you may as well make an effort to work on these so they no longer hold you back. 


A few techniques and fundamentals to work on may include:

  • Building strength and endurance

  • Improving finger dexterity 

  • Improving sight reading

  • Mastering technical pieces or passages


Dedicate focused practice sessions to technical exercises, arpeggios, scales, and any other fundamental aspects of your craft that will help you build a strong foundation for musical growth. At the end of the day, getting better at what you do will only help your career. All it costs you is time


  1. Embrace the Creative Process and Keep Practicing

Overcoming musical plateaus requires perseverance, willingness, and a whole lot of patience to properly embrace the process of growth


As difficult as it may be, try not to focus solely on the end goal. Instead, cultivate a mindset of mindfulness and presence while you practice. Pay attention to the quality of your practice sessions, and focus on precision, expression and musicality rather than just going through the motions. Try to embrace the journey and take the time to celebrate small victories along the way. No practice session is ever a bad one, it’s a learning curve. 


  1. Make An Effort to Stay Inspired 

When you’re experiencing a bit of a slump, it can be easy to lose your drive to create. But this is potentially the most important time to do just that. 


Keep your musical journey fresh and exciting by making a concerted effort to stay creative and inspired. Make an effort to attend more live performances by other artists, listen to a diverse range of music, read up about music and the industry and socialize with other musicians. Experiment with improvisation and composition and ways that can help you express yourself authentically through music. 


Most importantly, make an effort to keep your sense of curiosity for music alive and your passion for it. This will ensure that you can always approach your craft with love and a sense of exploration and discovery. 


Conclusion 

Experiencing a musical plateau can be tough, but it’s a natural part of being a musician. Not only does it not need to derail your progress, you can use it as an opportunity for improvement, growth, and self-discovery. 

Embrace the journey, stay committed to your musical goals, and focus on the future.

So, keep going, keep pushing yourself, and you’ll emerge from your plateau stronger, more skilled, and more passionate about music than ever before.

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