October 24, 2012


I know the holidays are coming.  I know.  It’s easy to get excited about the holidays.  But it’s also easy to get totally uninspired – the same tunes, year after year, to the same people (usually), for the same events, all in a time when you’re totally crushed with other obligations.  It’s too easy to lose all inspiration.  And that leads to boredom and cynicism – which start to show in your music.

So, how do you stay in the game? Keep it fresh? Spice it up? Relight the lamp?  Here are five ways to get or stay inspired:
1.      Listening to music- yup, seems counterintuitive, but listening to music can help.  For some people it will be listening to other presentations of holiday music for ideas and inspiration.  For others, it will be listening to whatever is, for them, the antithesis of holiday music to break the mold – and maybe to get some fresh ideas to apply to the holiday tunes.

2.      Reading – quotes, books, poems, letters – we end up playing the holiday standards, which all pretty much say the same thing.  Read something with another message.  Let that message wash over you and see how that might change how you tell the holiday stories with your music.

3.     Smells/tastes – I know, me and food!  But really, smelling “holiday” smells – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pine, fires, cold – all can put you in a better frame of mind to re-approach your music – and leave a good taste in your mouth as well!

4.     Beautiful scenery/ Fresh air – take a walk, enjoy the changing weather – all these will help you bring a new perspective to your music, your musicality, phrasing, arrangement, and presentation.

5.     Breathe!  Simply taking a few deep breaths will allow you to think, reassess your arrangements and playing – and its in the pauses that I find a lot of new ideas. Breathing is, after all, the basic definition of inspiration!

Of course, you don’t have to wait for the holidays to apply these ideas – any time you need to break out and do something new or get inspired to change something old into new (kind of like replacing all the buttons on a coat – it’s basically the same but now it’s new again!).


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