Maintaining Interest: Internal Struggle or Empathy

By Tung Pham, Brass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Tung Pham, Brass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Tung Pham

Young musicians go through it. Teachers weather the storm. And neither party likes it. It’s boredom. Students of music at all levels, young and old, inevitably go through it. They feel stuck, complacent and uninspired.  They feel like what they are doing sometimes has no purpose. I have sometimes felt this way myself. The following are a collection of ideas to get students of the arts motivated once again to work their craft and feed their intangibles.

Find the point of excitement at which you/your young person decided that studying music  was something that they wanted. Listen to that recording that made you feel like a kid again. Find that You Tube video of that awesome performance that you remember playing over and over again. When you do find it, listen, watch and soak it in. Those kinds of performances/recordings taught me about the possibilities of music and what could be done on my instrument. They inspired curiosity, excitement and wonderment. Undoubtedly, your student has felt those same things as well.

Once you do look backwards and find something, share it. Share it with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues and show them why you thought it was so awesome. 9 times out of 10, they’ll share your enthusiasm and love you for it. For me, the Original Fables of Faubus by Charles Mingus stands as one of my all-time favorite recordings. There are so many levels to why I appreciate it, historically, sociologically, musically. Check it out when you get a chance.

If you do think that your student is under-inspired, it’s never a bad idea to take a step back. Find the things that they enjoy doing and go for it. Playing music requires balance in life, just like everything else. See a movie, play some sports, go for a hike, paint a masterpiece. Inspiration for music study can come from anywhere and anyone. Remember, it’s all about self-enjoyment and satisfaction. Musicians study because they want to, not because they have to.


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