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  1. #1

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    Hello all,

    Starting in the winter of 2017-2018 (following a nightmare project), I entered a depressive episode that lasted me all the way til around November-December of 2019, gradually getting worse and much worse until one day it got better, and I'm happy to feel like I'm "me" again. During that period, I've had ups and downs, but it has been marked by consistent lack of motivation and "heavy arms", by which I mean physical symptoms of depression, making it -feel- hard to play the guitar as well as the motivational issues.

    One good thing I've noticed in my playing since then, is a much stronger capacity to create and expand upon ideas and phrases in place of regurgitating licks, and while I want to burn 16ths, I also feel much more at peace with playing honest 8ths for the time being. I need to build up my dexterity again.

    However, one thing that feels completely gone is the joy of playing, and the motivation is gone not because I feel foggy or physically incapacitated, but more because I don't feel a particular drive. Ironically, I was much better at practicing and doing rudimentary exercises during the worst times of my depression. I don't think I've really practiced for a month, although I have worked on stuff - wrote a couple tunes and worked on connecting ideas through modulation instead of conveniently "breathing" right as a chart modulates, those things.

    I'm on my very last semester of a Bachelor's degree in Guitar performance, and in 10 days my bachelor thesis must be presented - I haven't a clue what I'll do, because I currently feel as if I have no ambitions. I haven't gone to jams in ages - I could have made one on friday to which I was invited by the house band, but didn't prioritize it. I haven't played at a jam since oh, must be 2018 actually. I was on house band keys in January 2019, but that was a local blues club doing 12-bar blues charts all night, so I don't count it.

    I haven't looked forward to playing a concert in ages, I actually can't remember when. This whole realization came when my drummer asked me in around November 2019 when I last felt -proud- of something, and I said April 2018 - and the follow-up question about the last time I played something where I really loved it, and I couldn't really present an answer. I typically dread the concerts I'm about to play - which could be a peculiar manifestation of stage fright, but I generally feel okay on-stage - my hands are a bit "stiff" compared to at home, but none of the tremor and sweat which plagued me earlier in my "career".

    There have been episodes of joy, but they have been few and far between. In around September or October of 2019, after having discussed it for a year or so, I finally had time to meet a local professional player to jam, and I quite enjoyed it, even if I felt like an absolute amateur after he had comped me so well - just him and I on two guitars, it was a great jam.
    I fly across the country to my parents for every holiday and work at the local music store during my stays, and after closing the shop one saturday, a senior employee and I jammed for an hour and a half in the now-empty mall - he on a kit which he and I put together that day, I on the store's only 335 in a cheap (but great!) Nux amp. That was great as well.
    I guess the common thread for these two occassion is the "fearlessness" in our playing, our willingness to have ideas and go outside of safety, and our musical communication. I've thought about going to jams to seek out more meaningful interactions, but at the same time, my drummer is the best drummer I have ever played with and we are recently great friends, so his musical company surely would have been adequate, no...? There might not be correlation, rhyme or reason to it.

    So here I am, on the other side of the country, getting a guitar degree and living here because I had decided that my life was to be that of a professional guitar player, and I have no drive to play or practice. I play every day still, but it feels quite joyless.
    I'll try advice I got from my absolute favorite jazz player and general guitar god Jens Thoresen, to deep-dive into something, "nerd out" as it were.
    Check Jens out:
    The Quiet Zone - The Quiet Zone "Is This The Blues" | Facebook

    Have any of you had similar experiences, and perhaps have gotten out of this rut? I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on the subject.

    (And a particular shout-out to the Oslo Student Union for offering free pshychologist and psychiatrist sessions)

    It's still early-ish Sunday here, here's a tune I've been listening to on repeat for the last half hour.


    Cheers.

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  3. #2

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    Hi, MQ,
    You have the classic signs of burnout. Finish your degree. Take a break. You'll know in a month if the urge still exists. Good luck . . . Marinero

  4. #3

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    Not music, but similar... in my PhD program at Yale University, there was a long period where I had no motivation to press on with my dissertation, felt like I'd lost the inspiration that my subject area had always provided, and felt even if I finished, I'd never amount to anything as an academic, just be an also-ran who managed to get a degree.

    I just kept on plugging, counting on the wisdom of decisions made earlier when I was of a clearer mind. For a long time, I felt like a guy rowing across the ocean. Stroke, stroke, stroke, but no visible progress... just water on the horizon as far as I could see. Eventually the accumulation of my efforts, however unremarkable, began to speak to me about the fact that I was doing my own best, I was actually learning things, and by the time I finished I did NOT have the naive excitement of the new grad student, but I had the "older but wiser" satisfaction of having weathered a fierce storm.

    A scholar I read a lot speaks of 3 phases we go through in almost every domain of life. "First Naivete" where we feel like we are totally immersed, know exactly what we want, can see the path clearly and believe we can do it. There there is "Critical Awareness" where we see that none of the stupid stuff we thought at the beginning was true, we haven't got a clue what's really going on. Then there is "Second Naivete" where we actually still don't have much of a clue about things, but we have settled on our path and learned to savor the moments, however much the facts of life weigh against us. I think we go through this rhythm over and over in life, and need to learn just to ride it out.

  5. #4

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    "Naivete" where we actually still don't have much of a clue about things, but we have settled on our path and learned to savor the moments, however much the facts of life weigh against us." Lawson-Stone


    Hi, L,
    I call your third stage: awakening. It is the time in a sentient beings life that he/she realizes the absurdity of life as expressed in philosophical Existentialism. Good playing . . . Marinero

  6. #5

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    Finding no joy in things that you used to love is a symptom of depression.
    Don't stop. It is theraputic to going and keep participating. Take the advice of professionals and some solace in the fact that we live in a time when these disorders can be managed.

  7. #6

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    I went through something similar in music college. I was studying jazz and, over time, my motivation declined, I played less and less and basically played card games in the college pub. I left at the end of the year and never went back. Hardly played for a year after. Many years later I realized I was in a deep depression arising from my parents marital breakdown and disintegration of what appeared to be a very happy family. I did not realize it at the time. The other thing that contributed to it was the relentless artistic and technical evaluation I was going through at school. The joy was drained out of music. What helped was after a year a friend asked me to join an experimental art pop group a la David Sylvian. I was reluctant to do so but the joy came back and stayed.

    One question, are you taking antidepressants? I ask because I know some have a deadening or flattening effect on ones emotions and motivations.

  8. #7

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    ...I quite enjoyed it, even if I felt like an absolute amateur...


    I think this line is important and in my life I have said something very similar. Only in my case, replace "even if" with "because".
    Few things ruin the joyful mind of a beginner more than the burdened mind of an expert.

    Someone above mentioned burnout, which is likely. Listen to your body, do something different for a while. Talk to people who couldn't care less about music or guitar playing. Real people, face-to-face, not someone like me who is virtually anonymous with no accountability to anyone reading this. There's more to life and sometimes we lose sight of that. Maybe you'll come back to music and the guitar in time, and that's OK. Maybe you'll have had enough and move onto something else. That's OK too... it really is. Assuming you started your undergraduate program at the typical age you are fortunate to be young and have time on your side. (I completed my undergrad in 1980... do the math). Take a break. Refresh yourself.






  9. #8

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    hmm

    Not sure if my input might help specifically with your case, but just based on my past experiences..

    I played football (soccer) professionally for 4-5 years in my early twenties.. I'd been playing since I was 3, completely obsessed of course. It was my life. The first 2/3 of my life now, to be precise. The last 2 years of my career I made more progress than all the years combined. I was flying. At the same time, I wasn't happy. I was making huge progress with my 'craft', but also worried about an ambiguous future. It started to get to the point where I couldn't stand the thought of going into training every day. How could something I loved so much turn into something I loathed?

    Well, I decided to stop playing completely at this point, for my mental health. Afterwards, it was incredibly tough for about 5 years. Like I had lost the love of my life.. I had. But throughout those 5 years I explored other interests and things that made me happy.. intrinsically, just as football had done. One of these interests was the guitar (which I had been playing since a teen), and then more specifically jazz guitar. I grew up in a house where jazz was usually playing, so had some understanding/enjoyment from it, somewhat unusual for people my age now.

    I should get to the point here. I don't really regret moving on from my first love... I wouldn't have, if I didn't feel it was time. If you are seriously not getting any enjoyment from playing, ask yourself why you're doing it. I knew too many guys that were still chasing a fleeting passion far past their prime, and didn't want to end up like that personally.

    Anyway, my opinion.. take a few months of self reflection, and don't give up on it so hastily. Find some new music that inspires you maybe? But if you're lacking motivation, or even anywhere near a sort of depression, get away. Find something else. It's really not the end of the world, and finding new passions in life is what life's all about...

  10. #9

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    Whatever else you are doing, consider adding:
    -Exercise: cardio, strength and flexibility (it's OK not wanting to do it but do it anyway)
    -Optimum sleep (decrease if oversleeping, try to become a morning lark if you are a night owl)
    -Bright light therapy
    -Vitamin D
    -Avoid alcohol

    Ask your doctor to check your thyroid.

  11. #10

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    What you describe is more common than you might think. On my last year on Berklee (majoring in jazz guitar performance) i think i spent much more time just playing the piano for fun than playing the guitar. Lots of players, even some that are well known recording artists today go through phases like that. Just be open towards what you feel, go with it instead of against it.

    Living a life of a professional musician, more so that of a jazz player, involves more than a decision, and much more than a degree. It's a career and it can easily never happen. You have to be very pragmatic towards what you want, if you want it bad enough, if you have what it takes and are willing to go through what it takes. A music degree is great cause it gives you options. You can go after whatever career you want after finishing it, as long as you can see clearly your desires, your capabilities and your options.

    I would also talk to someone on college about your predicament, maybe postponing your presentation if you don't feel up to it. Most colleges are extremely considerate to situations like that and will go out of their way to help.

    Best of luck. That's the way a musicians life actually is, ups and downs, the ups being really up and the downs sometimes being really low! You roll with it...

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberoo
    I went through something similar in music college. I was studying jazz and, over time, my motivation declined, I played less and less and basically played card games in the college pub. I left at the end of the year and never went back. Hardly played for a year after. Many years later I realized I was in a deep depression arising from my parents marital breakdown and disintegration of what appeared to be a very happy family. I did not realize it at the time. The other thing that contributed to it was the relentless artistic and technical evaluation I was going through at school. The joy was drained out of music. What helped was after a year a friend asked me to join an experimental art pop group a la David Sylvian. I was reluctant to do so but the joy came back and stayed.

    One question, are you taking antidepressants? I ask because I know some have a deadening or flattening effect on ones emotions and motivations.
    Thanks, I'm not taking any meds. The depressive symptoms are all gone on their own, it seems - I couldn't believe that a two-year fog could dissipate in a day, but my therapist made it clear that yes, a depressive episode can last for two years and end in a snap. Feels like I'm having to find back to myself, including music, despite having been doing it all the while.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky


    I think this line is important and in my life I have said something very similar. Only in my case, replace "even if" with "because".
    Few things ruin the joyful mind of a beginner more than the burdened mind of an expert.

    Someone above mentioned burnout, which is likely. Listen to your body, do something different for a while. Talk to people who couldn't care less about music or guitar playing. Real people, face-to-face, not someone like me who is virtually anonymous with no accountability to anyone reading this. There's more to life and sometimes we lose sight of that. Maybe you'll come back to music and the guitar in time, and that's OK. Maybe you'll have had enough and move onto something else. That's OK too... it really is. Assuming you started your undergraduate program at the typical age you are fortunate to be young and have time on your side. (I completed my undergrad in 1980... do the math). Take a break. Refresh yourself.

    Thank you, although I certainly hope that I haven't had enough - I left behind steady cash and employment, friends and family on the other side of the country, and have amassed a monolithic debt as it is one of few private University Colleges in the city, and have dedicated the majority of my life so far to music and guitar - it's not so much the gambler's "sunken cost" fallacy as it is the only thing I'm especially good at and interested in. Time will tell, though. You're absolutely right. Even if I will seek a new path, unlikely as it may seem, that's okay. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by medblues
    Whatever else you are doing, consider adding:
    -Exercise: cardio, strength and flexibility (it's OK not wanting to do it but do it anyway)
    -Optimum sleep (decrease if oversleeping, try to become a morning lark if you are a night owl)
    -Bright light therapy
    -Vitamin D
    -Avoid alcohol

    Ask your doctor to check your thyroid.
    Thank you, solid advice. Musicians tend to forsake their physical health, me being no exception. When I was 19 in HS, I was obese, and immediately after school and entering the workforce, I got to working on my health and dropped more than 100 lbs and became somthing of an outdoorsman. However, when I started studying two years later, I forgot about my physical health on top of everything else (or perhaps, fundamental to...) and gained back half the weight I'd shedded. Now though, I'm motivated and with the depression subsided, am losing weight again. Slowly, but surely.

    When I was a healthier man, I used to jog every other day with my dog. Because of my weight gain, though, I have been advised against jogging by my doctor - but I swim and cycle a lot as soon as the ice melts, and the greatest detriment to my well-being has always been compulsive eating during depressive episodes.

    Norwegians are, as you probably can surmise, sun-deprived all winter long, so I'm having a spoonful of cod liver oil every morning to get some Vitamin D. I am obsessed with sunlight and will stop at nothing to get at least an hour in the sun every day that it is out.

    I hardly ever drink, and have only had half a pint in January, my first drink since two beers at Christmas dinner, and before that was a couple of months of nothing. I am not a heavy drinker, but I enjoy craft beer on rare occasions - I avoid booze and parties simply because I'm so lucky that I don't enjoy it..!

    Now, you are good to point out sleep cycle - this is something which I have completely neglected in the last week in particular. I don't like staying up late either, but have been having sleep troubles in January which have been difficult to rectify. Today, I went to bed early but the last time I checked my clock, it was 04:00 AM and I was wide awake. I got up at 9-10 sometime so hopefully I'll be knocked out by early evening and use this as an opportunity.

    Thanks for your reminder that physical health is important, I'll take your advice and focus on getting my day-night cycle right in the next ocuple of days.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    What you describe is more common than you might think. On my last year on Berklee (majoring in jazz guitar performance) i think i spent much more time just playing the piano for fun than playing the guitar. Lots of players, even some that are well known recording artists today go through phases like that. Just be open towards what you feel, go with it instead of against it.

    Living a life of a professional musician, more so that of a jazz player, involves more than a decision, and much more than a degree. It's a career and it can easily never happen. You have to be very pragmatic towards what you want, if you want it bad enough, if you have what it takes and are willing to go through what it takes. A music degree is great cause it gives you options. You can go after whatever career you want after finishing it, as long as you can see clearly your desires, your capabilities and your options.

    I would also talk to someone on college about your predicament, maybe postponing your presentation if you don't feel up to it. Most colleges are extremely considerate to situations like that and will go out of their way to help.

    Best of luck. That's the way a musicians life actually is, ups and downs, the ups being really up and the downs sometimes being really low! You roll with it...
    Thanks, this is well-put and your first part very relatable - I have gotten more money playing piano in the last year than I have ever gotten playing guitar, for over a decade. I've also found more joy in grooving on the ivories - I got to set up a Nord Grand a couple of weeks ago, and it was a fantastic piece of kit. Would buy in a heartbeat if I had that kind of cash just laying around.

    You're so very right about a pragmatic outlook. I have always had rather a misguided, meritocratic view of music and musicians - and while it's not exactly unimportant to know your stuff, there's a lot of other factors, and like you said, you really kind of got to do it yourself, "go and get it".

    And hey, I'll try asking the administration for advice and help. I'm student representative and have good rapport with them already. =)


    -



    I also want to thank the user Tone Deaf Tony, whose first post has unfortunately been removed. If you're out there Tony, I read it before it was gone and deeply appreciated it. That was some of the best advice I have ever gotten, and I immediately started talking to my drumming friend about the "interpret" type jams, talking to eachother about what we do and did, etc. Thanks again man, a shame the post was removed.

  13. #12

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    People in the arts, especially the true artists (and they are relatively rare) are extraordinarily sensitive. Moods can turn on a dime, and these people can be easily set off by things that would have no effect on 'normal' people---a comment, a look, or some internal chemical or mental imbalance. The very sensitivity that allows one to be creative is Janus-faced. Its various sides can seduce you into succumbing to bad moods or self-defeating behaviors---if you let it. Or you can go the other way and feel too good based on nothing real.

    All I can offer as insight is: consistency of effort is curative. I've been in depressions and more up periods. When engaged, even if depressed, there's still the engagement and the feeling of accomplishment and being connected. Also, self-isolation when depressed is a form of death. The depression is like a Siren, lulling you, saying 'it's OK, withdraw. I'll take care of you'. Before you know it months, even years go by and you've done virtually nothing and perhaps seen virtually no one. If it takes pushing yourself out the door to interact with people, do it. I've done gigs in the midst of depression. Maybe I didn't play well or enjoy it so much, but at least I did it, had the heart to do it and not cop out. You build on those small victories and before you know it you're back.

    So you're going to feel up or down, and your immediate feelings are not as important as they seem. You have to keep going and keep interacting regardless of how you're feeling. Sometimes your head will be a little swelled, too. That's can be just as self-deluding as when you tell yourself you're s&&t.

    Focus on the process, the engagement, the effort, and not the feelings. That way you'll keep going through it all and do your work...
    Last edited by joelf; 01-18-2020 at 08:38 PM.

  14. #13

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    In 2020, Hamlet would have been on meds. Clinically depressed men are in such denial about getting help for their mental health, the older a guy is, the more stubborn they seem to be.

    In today's social climate, there is supposed to be no shame for looking into getting assistance for taking care of your mental health. It's not worth putting off, better to nip things in the bud before they get a chance to become some big, hard to treat cycle of behavior.

  15. #14

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    Been on anti depressants for 10 years. I'm not sure how much good they do. They level things out a bit, but make it to "feel." I am pretty apathetic most of the time.

    In my experience the loss of motivation came partially from feeling like I hadn't worked hard enough to deserve enjoying playing. And I don't mean practice exclusively, but any sort of work. It just didn't feel like it had much meaning anymore. Competitiveness and constant urge to be better has really killed the enjoyment. Boy.....
    I'm still in the process of trying to disengage from that junk.
    Switch instruments or take up crocheting or reading Shakespeare.
    Exercise is good too!
    Hope this helps...

  16. #15

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    I have had and having all kinds of periods where there was no fun in playing. The reasons vary also. But I know now this passes always. Nowadays I don't let bad mood to stop me. Even if it feels like dull job sometimes, I know, it's better to do it rather than regret not doing it when the joy decides to come back. This regret has happened one time too many and I'll not gonna let it happen anymore

    Some of those times I quit:
    taking classical guitar seriously - saw that I have very little chance to get to the skill level that would satisfy my ambitions
    quit performing - stood outside the venue, waiting for our band to get playing and sincerely thought "this ain't worth all the hustle". It made more sense not to bother with those very soon.
    quit trying to get good at jazz improvisation - I felt I only played with eyes only at some point. No joy. Didn't feel like music at all.
    At one point what helped me starting over, was to try to learn to play all by ear. This felt exciting and seemed promising to be rewarding eventually. Such a long time job that one is. omg. But still going, for 5 years now. And will go on forever now I think

    Anyway, you can go make a fireworks happen with enthusiasm and some investment.
    But if you want to go to the Moon, then DO YOUR JOB!
    Last edited by emanresu; 01-19-2020 at 10:35 AM.

  17. #16

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    I think I can completely understand. It can not be solved exclusively with or by the music.

    My recipe, wake up at 5 AM every day, do a 30 minute excercise just after you did a breakfast and shower, and etc. For example run, or in case your abilities limited in any health reason, take fast walking in open air, or do anything what elevates your pulse. (I did not mean watching morning political tv talks, and news)

    The key is every day. If you can manage a consecutive 100 days, you will have a great success experience, and the wish to increase your 100 consecutive days record to 150, etc, your depression will ease. You will start every day with a great success, and the mindset you did something good for yourself. With this feeling and with this boost your day will be better, so there is a chance your excitement to play music will go back gradually wich will make your day more better.

    If all above is done, then you will have the minimal willpower to start thinking what was the primary cause your depression, and start to work change that... but keep waking up 5 AM every single day no exception. I almost forget: go to bed between 9 PM and 10 PM, qualiy and enough sleep is mandatory.

    Do not take this as a threapy, which will end when you get well. Instead recognize that this is the way, and you will do this in the rest of your life, only regret, why you did not discover this earlier.
    Last edited by Gabor; 01-19-2020 at 09:05 AM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Been on anti depressants for 10 years. I'm not sure how much good they do. They level things out a bit, but make it to "feel." I am pretty apathetic most of the time.
    I've tried many of those drugs. They mostly haven't worked or worked TOO well and tipped the scale too far in the other direction. It's harder and takes more discipline to accept your moods and mental quirks and learn to be comfortable in your own skin. It gets easier as you age, and I strongly recommend paring down the drugs in favor of discipline and self-acceptance.

    I'm NOT saying here that someone in major depression or other serious mental illness shouldn't go that route or not listen to doctors. In times of real crisis do what's needed to pull yourself out...

  19. #18

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    I have no personal experience with depression. I know somone who has. In their case cognitive therapy helped a lot. That aside I think that experiencing som kind of crisis just before graduation is not uncommon. So it may be or may not be related. Uncertainty about future might be part of it - it surely would be for me. Do something part time which is completely unrelated to what you focus on in professional life. This is how I use music. You, of course, should look somewhere else - sports, painting, computer programming, gardening. And for the professional career as musician or teacher, try to descibe to yourself what the future might look. Define a scenario and set yourself some (realistic) goals. That approach removes a lot of worries from the mind to the scenario and gives you something to relate to in a constructive manner.

    As to what has given me new inspiration in guitar playing: (a) Taking a break for some time where I listened to other genres of music (mostly classical music, opera) and (b) Starting as a bass player in a band and finally (c) Taking dance lessons and generally diving deep into the Argentine tango music (not as performer though).

  20. #19

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    Forgot one thing that may be helpful for OP.

    When I was in school, trying to learn jazz (not too successful there), I was asked to do this and that for four years. The list was really short and pretty much the standard.. Got into this loop and lost interest eventually with not much success.
    After finding the joy again much later, one source of that "joy" is to actually search for new ways to learn stuff. I mean, the OP said something about becoming a professional player..
    Professional means 8 hours work for 5 weekdays. If doing only the same things would mean like working in a factory. Of course there's not much joy or excitement this way.

    I can't tell anyone here what to do, only listing some stuff what made me a happy "worker" again.

    Picked up singing - there is so freaking many ways to practice when singing. Like anything - sing the bass, sing the melody, sing.. ..... .. . .. .... with tunes, arps, scales... there are endless ways to use the voice to improve general playing.
    If one routine gets old, there are hundred more waiting - doesn't mean you should do all of that to succeed, just that there is always something new.. a new fresh angle that makes the brain to ponder again. And brain likes pondering.

    Played by ear.... omg. A myriad of ways to practice different things.

    When doing scales or chord workouts - the combinations to keep it all fresh are all there, and figuring them out was good fun by itself.

    When jamming with backing tracks or even with good old recordings of great players became tedious -
    Created my own track of chords that made me feel good, practiced to get 32 bars to get them really groovy(for hours), recorded it and wowy zowy, way more energy than with any old Aebersold or computer-generated junk.

    ----------
    The point is, there are so many other ways to practice when it gets old and dull. So damn many. Just have to figure them out.

  21. #20

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    Do you have family who love you? All your limbs? A place to live? Enough to eat? Can't hurt to count one's blessings now and then.

  22. #21

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    Learn a tune based on one of your favorite recordings, then learn your favorite 4 bars from a solo from that tune.

  23. #22

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    Clinical therapists, church ministers, and advice columnists hear something like this frequently; for example with regard to a man's love for his wife expressed as, "I'm not feeling it; what should I do?". A popular answer is just, "Love her". Subsequent confusion and questions from the man will indicate he believes feeling love is a necessary motivation.

    William James: It is not fear of the bear that makes you run, it is running from the bear that makes you feel fear.

    The popular answer reflects James' insights and if followed by the man in the example may lead to a resumption of feeling love again - but the return of this feeling must be received as a gift, not viewed as the resumption of a necessary motivation upon which his love would depend.

    Perhaps a more familiar example; you're no longer "feeling it" for your car and begin to prepare it for sale. You spend time with it adjusting the engine, cleaning the interior, performing a few minor repairs, washing and waxing... and then begin to realize you're liking the car and decide to keep it.

    Some here have wisely suggested a routine - doing it whether you feel like it or not. Don't let motivation control your routine. You will begin practice without motivation or "feeling it", and it may end that way, but you do it anyway. Sometimes you might find yourself "feeling it" during the practice. If so, just accept it as a gift, don't depend on it.

  24. #23

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    I'm sort of in the same boat. I'm 74, retired and fairly healthy and have been passionate about guitars since 1960 and played pro/semi pro since I got out of the army in 1970. I owned and operated a full line retail music store from 1975-1984, then got a 'real' job but still played....a lot. I got into playing in theater pit bands in the 80's and continued it every chance I got up until about a year ago - usually doubling on electric guitar and pedal steel and really enjoying it. In my area, other than theater work, there is little to hold my interest musically.As I've mentioned before, if you don't play 'tiki' bar or electric blues, you don't play. There are very few places to play and the only 'jams' are very 'cliquish' (bluegrass and jazz, specifically). I've never been to a jam that I enjoyed because they all seem to end up being 'cutting' contests - the only exception being steel guitar jams which are usually pretty friendly affairs but I sold my steel due to lack of work (I'm not a 'play at home' player).

    To make matters worse, I'm 100% disabled with the VA, mostly due to PTSD caused by my stint in Vietnam back in the 60s and depression/anxiety are a real part of my everyday life. As I age, they tend to get worse and my musical life suffers because of it. The problem is, I'm still interested and continue to buy instruments and build cabinets trying to re-spark the flame but it doesn't seem to be working. I've got 2 great acoustic guitars (Martin & Brook), a Godin nylon string, and a couple home built Teles (one set up specifically for jazz) that I can't force myself to play! I look at them - that's about it. The main Tele gets played once a month at a charity duo gig where I pretty much run the computer backing tracks and play rhythm guitar behind the karaoke machine and at the monthly steel guitar jam where I'm in the backup band for the steel players - neither gig very musically rewarding. Add to that, I'm just not a stay at home player and only practice if I need to learn a new tune - I already know just about every song that I have any interest in playing (our duo song list is well over 400 tunes!) and, fortunately, I don't lose my chops much between outings.

    I know I'm rambling but would really like to figure out how to, at least, get myself playing more than I do and maybe get a solo gig once in a while but there's really none of those around here. We have one fine classical/jazz solo guitarist in the area and he stays busy doing weddings. There's just not much work...period. My only solo gig in the last five years was warming up the crowd with Chet and Merle stuff before an auction - I got paid with a set of saucepans for my wife!

    I really don't get along with others (especially musicians) and would love to play solo but, around here, it appears to be a lost cause.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis
    I'm sort of in the same boat. I'm 74, retired and fairly healthy and have been passionate about guitars since 1960 and played pro/semi pro since I got out of the army in 1970. I owned and operated a full line retail music store from 1975-1984, then got a 'real' job but still played....a lot. I got into playing in theater pit bands in the 80's and continued it every chance I got up until about a year ago - usually doubling on electric guitar and pedal steel and really enjoying it. In my area, other than theater work, there is little to hold my interest musically.As I've mentioned before, if you don't play 'tiki' bar or electric blues, you don't play. There are very few places to play and the only 'jams' are very 'cliquish' (bluegrass and jazz, specifically). I've never been to a jam that I enjoyed because they all seem to end up being 'cutting' contests - the only exception being steel guitar jams which are usually pretty friendly affairs but I sold my steel due to lack of work (I'm not a 'play at home' player).

    To make matters worse, I'm 100% disabled with the VA, mostly due to PTSD caused by my stint in Vietnam back in the 60s and depression/anxiety are a real part of my everyday life. As I age, they tend to get worse and my musical life suffers because of it. The problem is, I'm still interested and continue to buy instruments and build cabinets trying to re-spark the flame but it doesn't seem to be working. I've got 2 great acoustic guitars (Martin & Brook), a Godin nylon string, and a couple home built Teles (one set up specifically for jazz) that I can't force myself to play! I look at them - that's about it. The main Tele gets played once a month at a charity duo gig where I pretty much run the computer backing tracks and play rhythm guitar behind the karaoke machine and at the monthly steel guitar jam where I'm in the backup band for the steel players - neither gig very musically rewarding. Add to that, I'm just not a stay at home player and only practice if I need to learn a new tune - I already know just about every song that I have any interest in playing (our duo song list is well over 400 tunes!) and, fortunately, I don't lose my chops much between outings.

    I know I'm rambling but would really like to figure out how to, at least, get myself playing more than I do and maybe get a solo gig once in a while but there's really none of those around here. We have one fine classical/jazz solo guitarist in the area and he stays busy doing weddings. There's just not much work...period. My only solo gig in the last five years was warming up the crowd with Chet and Merle stuff before an auction - I got paid with a set of saucepans for my wife!

    I really don't get along with others (especially musicians) and would love to play solo but, around here, it appears to be a lost cause.
    I played solo guitar for nursing homes a couple times and found it very rewarding. I also saw students going to the cancer center and playing for folks in the waiting room or while the patients are getting chemotherapy. Another less-mentioned venue for solo guitar is art galleries (definitely beats restaurant gigs).

  26. #25

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    Emotions come and go in waves. Unless there's a real disorder---an imbalance----we ought not put too much weight on our immediate moods. I never was in a war like our friend a few posts above, and I can't even imagine what hell he went through. Believe me, I count my blessings.

    But, I was down very recently, set off by an insult I took very, very hard. I withdrew and regrouped. I was on about 2 cylinders for about two months. Then a couple of things came through, gig-wise and generally. I started shedding and writing parts for this upcoming showcase gig, and the next step was tonight, going to a session led by the very guy who put me down. We hugged, and w/o a word said, silently acknowledged that we both were wrong---and the whole ugly incident was naught but an old-fashioned male pissing contest. The music was good, the spirit was in the air. So I played another guy's guitar and played like myself. I'm back.

    The thing we all need to recognize about music, the beauty part, is that it's always there for us. No matter what emotional changes, work or family obligations---whatever---we can just reach for it and it's there. Even more so when you've spent years at it.

    Emotions and moods come and go. Music is a constant. When you're ready again just reach...
    Last edited by joelf; 01-24-2020 at 12:37 AM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    The thing we all need to recognize about music, the beauty part, is that it's always there for us. No matter what emotional changes, work or family obligations---whatever---we can just reach for it and it's there. Even more so when you've spent years at it. Emotions and moods come and go.

    Music is a constant. When you're ready again just reach...
    bingo...where would we be w/o music!

    bravo

    cheers

  28. #27

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    So much good advice here that there's hardly anything new I can add. Here's a try, though...

    Seeing a live performance by a musician you really love can re-spark musical joy and motivation. Maybe you can treat yourself to attending a concert by someone who really inspires you. Do it before your thesis, not as a carrot at the end of the stick. Make yourself happy NOW. Your tank is empty; fill it up so you have joy to bring to your own performance.

    The other thing that hasn't been mentioned is that being a pro means playing like you mean it, even when you don't really mean it :-) Perhaps this is an opportunity to sharpen your workmanlike abilities to play musically even when internal or external conditions are suboptimal.

    Even so, don't neglect yourself. All the advice about talking with friends, sleep, exercise, and a healthy routine is good advice.

    One last thing: maybe you can try melatonin to help you get to sleep on time and sleep through the night.

    Good luck, and please keep us posted on how things are going.

    SJ

  29. #28

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    Wow maybe I'm wired differently than most? But for me there is NOTHING I enjoy doing more than playing my instrument and making music, NOTHING. The ONLY thing that rivals it for me is love making, that's the truth. Sure there are other things that I enjoy but there is a significant gap between that enjoyment and the enjoyment I get from playing/mastering my instrument. One thing I really like is that no matter how good I get I always feel like there will be more to learn, even better I can get. There will be another technique I can learn and master, another chord or linear lick I can come up with, another song I can learn or write. I can take forays off into other styles, come back and incorporate some of that into my fusion playing if I like, play different types of guitars and explore what different things those bring out in my playing, electric, acoustic steel string, nylon string, 12 string, baritone guitar, etc. Examine different possibilities with different ALT tuning's, finding different ways to reinterpret melodies that I already have learned. Improve the sight reading, fretboard knowledge, a deeper look at music theory, and more. No matter how good I get I know there will always be new exciting things I can learn on guitar to challenge myself to get even better, I really like that part of it. Just goes to show how different people have different affinities. I went through a period of dealing with depression and playing more/learning more/getting better on my instrument was the best therapy ever. Playing is the cure for depression for me, even the practicing part.

    Hopefully you'l be able to reignite your passion. Taking a break from it for a while is probably a good idea. I've done that before at different times. Never "too" long though or you start to regress. Then when you're ready come back to it fresh. Also take a visit to the Doc and get on some anti-depressant meds, those actually help A LOT. and also take the time to meet with a counselor or psychologist to talk about it. I've dealt with serious depression before so I know that it's no laughing matter. Left undiagnosed or untreated clinical depression can be very debilitating. Go get some meds, they increase your endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happy and are even natural pain killers. Also talking to a trained psychologist may help you uncover what's bothering you psychologically or reveal some ways to lift your spirits. Good luck

  30. #29

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    I remember a few times when I was tired from work or practiced too many stupid arps.. or just in a bad mood.
    And only looking at the guitar made me feel even worse. Still decided to pick it up and something very nice happened.
    This is rare though. I suspect it had something to do with stopping tryharding and pretending.

  31. #30

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    I have to say that as an amateur, I cannot ever remember picking up the guitar without wanting to pick it up. It has never been an obligation for me, though I do feel the impulse to improve, to work at it. But it has always been the wind, not the anchor, in my life.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I have to say that as an amateur, I cannot ever remember picking up the guitar without wanting to pick it up. It has never been an obligation for me, though I do feel the impulse to improve, to work at it. But it has always been the wind, not the anchor, in my life.
    No one is "forced" to play guitar or any instrument except maybe a kid being forced to by their over zealous parent. So that means essentially everyone is doing it because they enjoy it to some degree and get pleasure out of playing their instrument. I do wonder though if a persons amount of passion in doing it is a factor in how good they will become at playing guitar?

  33. #32

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    When I was in the Jazz Studies Master's program at IU I had a serious issue with depression and everyone there was very kind and worked with me through it. Universities are used to dealing with these issues, especially in performance degrees. Talk to your department and I suspect all will be well.

    I've been living with a tremendous amount of stress the last few years. I sit in my studio and I stare at my guitars and basses and feel guilty for not playing/practicing. 3 months ago, on a lark, I answered an ad for a double bassist. I auditioned and ended up getting the gig. Now I play 1 day a week and during those sessions I forget everything else and just love playing the bass. The other 6 days I deal with the stuff in my life and still feel guilty for not practicing. I'm not depressed, I'm just stressed out and overwhelmed by life right now. That one day a week is my reality break. Eventually, I hope to get back to playing guitar, but for now, the double bass is my instrument of joy and choice. Sounds like the piano is yours. Everything changes eventually. That thought is what keeps me going.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    bingo...where would we be w/o music!

    bravo

    cheers
    It's a gift, a therapy, a celebration---and it comes through, not from us.

    On a less metaphysical, purely ego level, though (LOL), it helps to have a few things go our way professionally. That can lift the fog of depression...

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    It's a gift, a therapy, a celebration---and it comes through, not from us.

    On a less metaphysical, purely ego level, though (LOL), it helps to have a few things go our way professionally. That can lift the fog of depression...
    back to the metaphysical! hah

    agree, tho i'd say on a comfort/ego/financial level its a good thing..but when you done good...artistically...you know it...and that's the greatest satisfaction! if someone tells you, you played great...and you didnt feel it yourself...their opinion will be questioned in your soul!

    sometimes it takes time to break thru to the next level...but when you do...wow!! what rumi type ecstasy


    cheers

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    wow!! what rumi type ecstasy
    Rumi? My apartment is rumi.

    In fact, it's a 'rumi with a Jew'...

  37. #36

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    go sit on your sufi..er, sofa

    haha

    cheers

    ps- next we'll be doin soupy sales pafalafaka schtick!
    Last edited by neatomic; 01-26-2020 at 10:16 PM.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    ps- next we'll be doin soupy sales pafalafaka schtick!
    '....it sounds so romantic and jerky...'

  39. #38

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    Major depression is a serious health problem. It affects up to 25% of the population in the course of a lifetime. In some people this is short-lived and resolves fairly quickly; in other people they can be recurrent or quite long lasting. In some people it's relatively mild, and other people that is disabling. When I am working my way around to is saying it should be taken seriously and seeking professional assistance may be advisable (especially if one is having suicidal thoughts). Most colleges and universities have counseling services available- problems such as depression often first manifest around that age and under those stresses- and that might be one helpful option for the OP.

    Medications may or may not be necessary or helpful; cognitive behavioral therapy is often helpful. With either treatment, within a year about 40% of people have achieved remission, another 40% are improved and another 20% are still struggling; with combination of medications and cognitive therapy, that goes up to about 90% of people who experience remission or improvement. The fundamental premise there is that when people are depressed they tend to think in certain patterns and that those patterns of thoughts can be changed, resulting in improved mood.

  40. #39

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    I'm surprised no one's mentioned depression's possibly eviler twin: anxiety. This is a topic deserving of its own thread.

    Fear is art's staunch enemy. When you're jammed with anxiety---especially in the live performing arts---flow can go right into the toilet. (No doubt a major reason for substance use/abuse among performers: the desire for the 'buffer effect'). Oh, you can turn it around into a different, more useful energy---but you have to acknowledge and understand it first.

    I've been a lifelong sufferer from this. I never know when it'll show its ugly head. But when you perform often enough you can get through and get over. Focusing and forms of meditating on the bigger picture, thinking thoughts that will connect you to that energy---some would say spirit realm---and get you past your ego and quotidian feelings---will definitely help. But to me the real solution is right there in the music: listen! Listen to what's going on with the other players on the stand (or even in an apartment---same idea). Listening is what we're supposed to do----and it will focus you on the real moment, and focus away from anxiety.

    I had a good gig today: my duo-mate, Ray Macchiarolla, is a favorite player of mine. I felt a little tight and nervous first set. Wasn't up to snuff in my head. That's normal---and sort of my point. You come to the gig with your street nerves (or worse) and everything else that's on your mind. Maybe it takes a set or part of a set to get with the program---and the music. Ray sounded so good, and the people (in a hospital lobby, of all places!) were responsive enough that soon enough I was like an observer with the music playing me.

    I'm not trying to minimize the influence of anxiety on artists (or anyone else). Read my first paragraph. It can be as crippling as depression and can morph into a very serious illness, left unchecked. Nor do I suggest that there's an easy cure for it, or for anything. It takes work----years of work. Learning to cope with and overcome these emotional blocks takes as least as much practice as learning an instrument. But practice makes perfect---and there's always hope. And always tomorrow...

  41. #40

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    Thanks for all the sincere advice that everyone has put out! I did what many suggested, and I just sat with the guitars at all times when at home. Sure enough, in the past few days, I feel a spark again. I've just always had the guitar in my lap since the last time I posted, always noodling. I am now so motivated that I have begun doing actual exercises and the likes. Even started a few tunes for my now selected, extremely narrow bachelor topic (which you'll find in another thread in here), and am transcribing some solo phrases. Thanks again.

    I'd like to clarify that my depressive symptoms have now -subsided-, although I'm sure we'll meet again. I had a major depressive episode in high school too.

    I'm also doing the lifestyle things. Getting up early consistently (except today, slept extremely poorly and have the day off so it didn't matter), eating much healthier like I did in the better times of my life, and so on.

    Check out my other thread if you want to help me out with my thesis, if it's something you wanna chat about

  42. #41

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    Quick: Glad you're feeling better, and glad you took the advice you asked for. Some good souls on here pitched in.

    And, yes, it will come again---and leave again, the way it came. You know what to do now when (if? let's hope) that day comes.

    Straight ahead, and all the best...

    (Joel Fass)