Nov. 3, 2022

Inspiration, Anyone?

I have days where I can sit and write three blog drafts in a row, and I love it. I also have days where I feel like I have absolutely nothing to say or offer, so nothing comes out. I guess that is what ‘they’ call writer’s block. I have gone weeks without being able to write something, and luckily, I have a reserve to fall back on (thanks to the days I can sit and write for hours). It is running low though…

Same goes with piano. Some days, I pick a song I have never attempted to play and nail every note. Some days, though, I cannot play a song I have perfected (or thought I had) months ago that I practice every day. Some days I cannot remember chords, I cannot hit arpeggios, my chord progressions are complete garbage, and it takes me reminding myself how much I paid for ē -bone-ē not to kick the shit out of her (and it is not even her fault).

I have been trying to determine why that is since I started playing, because frankly, it sucks the inspiration and encouragement right out of me. I let it set me back. The more I try to push through it, the more frustrated I get, and then I am just making mistakes because I am angry.

Ken promises me that it is normal – that he experiences the same setbacks. I do not see it though. I see him consistently practicing and making so much progress that he is playing out and that is amazing – I never thought I would have the opportunity to watch him play a show (he only started bass a few months before I started piano). The thought of playing out at this point – because of these weird, awful, practices - sends me into a panic. But I am on a mission…

I have determined I cannot write or play after even one drink – drinking blocks every ounce of my creativity and ability to play. If I have a drink or two on a Friday evening, I already know I will not be playing piano. Same goes for Ken too – that is why he does not drink (not even a sip) on nights he plays shows.

I have come to recognize the bad days early on when I practice, so I try to change course instead of fight it, but I don’t know if that is the right answer either. What if every day just sucks – just never practice? Instead of playing songs or going into course work, I will practice exercises and/or dexterity (turns out I have really weak pinkies), and if I am really not feeling it, I go to YouTube for inspiration. I will watch some of my favorite piano players, or watch a video on music theory, or an instructional video on how to play a song. Sometimes I just turn to my piano playlist for inspiration. I figure at least I am dedicating time to piano and music in some form, and hopefully benefiting from it in some way.

The short clips of me playing that I post on social media are a way for me to push through too. I figure if I put myself out there it holds me accountable, makes me vulnerable (which, believe it or not, is extremely uncomfortable for me), and honestly, the encouragement really helps. I am sure it is somewhat, but not really, similar to the feeling of playing out and getting positive reinforcement.

You guys make it look so easy. I feel like it is not easy for me.

So, I am going to flip the script and ask a favor. I would like you to make yourself vulnerable and tell me how you conquer your mind and push through. What motivates and inspires you? How do you clear the roadblocks? If it applies to you, how do you manage doubt that one of your bad days might fall on a day you play out?

This really does not even have to apply to music – just life in general. There are days I have three loads of laundry done, folded, and put away, grocery shopping complete, and a workout behind me before I log on for work at 8am. Other days, brushing my teeth feels like an accomplishment (but I promise I always do it!).