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Breaking a Musical Rut

John Welch
Oct 4, 2018


It always seems that somehow I find myself in musical ruts. I’ll wake up one day and realize that I have been listening or playing the same thing endlessly (the people around me usually notice this a lot sooner than I do). I often find that trying something new will kick me out of the rut, or at the very least, give me a new perspective.

Think about what a lot of the giants of music have done as their careers progressed: The Beatles incorporated Indian sounds into their own; The Who moved towards larger operatic structures; Buck Owens and Earl Scruggs both turned to pop and rock music as source material for country songs. All of us should make ourselves aware of what other styles of music are doing (both domestic and foreign). New vistas will generate fresh vocabularies which will free us from retelling the same old story in the same old voice.

Another great approach is to try a different instrument. Learning new techniques will help you question and refine the way that you play your primary instrument. This can also broaden your position and utility in a band setting (or make you more appealing if you are outside looking in). If you don’t do it already, learn to sing. Singing will greatly improve the way you hear and play music. It will help your nerves, and it will help your band.

It’s this way: you may suck at your new instrument but you used to suck at your primary instrument. The same holds true for listening: you may hate what you hear but chances are that at some point you hated what you play now. Don’t be afraid to try something new.