Friday, December 11, 2009

Motivate Me

    As I mentioned in my last post, I recently started keeping a practice journal.  As you may already know, I am a big fan of Dave Liebman, and he advocates keeping a journal of what you are practicing to track your progress.

    Keeping a practice journal is not new to me, as I have started one before.  The keyword here being started.  Yes, start one is all I did.  I maybe got 2 or 3 entries in and lost motivation.  It would seem that I was more in love with the idea of keeping a journal than actually keeping one.  I mean, what aspiring musician doesn't like the idea of of getting better?  I sure don't know any.

    I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that my philosophy of motivation may be at fault here, as opposed to my actual motivation.  I mean, keeping a practice journal is something that I really want to do, so that alone should (in theory) mean I am motivated to do so, or else I just subconsciously don't want to keep a journal.  But that isn't the case at all.

    My new philosophy of motivation is that motivation can be learned.  This is not concurrent with what I used to think about motivation, which was as simple as either being motivated or not and that was it.  On the contrary, I now see motivation as a skill, and not a trait.  By forcing myself into keeping up in my journal on a regular basis, I found that I had to force myself less and less each day, until it became habit. Once it became a habit, I found that each day I looked forward to writing in my journal more and more, thus demonstrating motivation.

    Thinking this way is very liberating for me, because I used to stress about not being motivated for something I should have been motivated for, such as practicing a certain scale or chord.  This would often lead to actually putting off practicing for days at a time which made me more and more depressed to the point that it took too much energy for me to even think about the guitar.

    But now I have grown older and realize that motivation is something that can be helped through work and repetition.  However, that's not to say that listening to John Coltrane or Allan Holdsworth doesn't motivate me to make music, it's just that sometimes you need a way to motivate yourself which, I think, is the most difficult form of motivation.

    It seems I have gotten off topic from what I intended to write about, which was keeping a practice journal, but it's just as well.  Everyone needs some extra motivation from time to time.  I guess I will have to write about practice journals in the next post.  Until then, find out what keeps you motivated.



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