burned out

burned out

I have been playing violin for 13 years and fiddle for about 3. I am getting burned out with my music. I spent the last couple years being very enthusiastic about music, however things seem to have changed. Im at a plateau where I dont think im getting any better, and Im growing bored from play the same songs over and over again. I even picked up mandolin, but that didn;t seem to help much. I am wondering if any of you older musicians have had year long lapses were you gave up music for awhile, and then came back to it later in life with the passion of a young’n once again?

Re: burned out

I had a 12-year gap between playing GHB and Irish flute. Been geting heavily into it for the past year.

Re: burned out

Dae sumhin else for a while…..

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Re: burned out

I’ve been playing folk music in one form or another since 1971—started ITM about 1974. I’ve been bored occasionally, but I play a bunch of instruments and that helps. Periodically I listen to something different (Scandinavian music, Old-Timey Appalachian, even the occasional Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings stint) than I’m used to. If playing the same tunes over and over is a problem, remember that Breandan Breathnach estimated that there were some 6000 tunes in the tradition. One of our local sessions has been playing the same fifteen tunes for longer than I’ve been going, and yes, it does get mind-numbing after a while. But there are always new tunes to be learned, new ways to interpret things, refinements to be made to technique, etc. I have gone through months of not playing—I’ve set aside instruments for a couple years—but those periods have been worse than being bored with the same old thing.

Re: burned out

Anna, the short answer is "yes". 🙂 Not to worry. Go find something else to do for a while, maybe pick up the fiddle every now and again to keep your hand in when you feel like it. It’ll come back. 🙂

Rekindling the fire…

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give your brain a rest… one day you’ll pick up where you left off. Meanwhile, you’re free… free… ahahahahaaa!

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Re: burned out

Hey Anna, been thinking about you and wondering where you’ve been.

Don’t worry about the idea of taking a break. Sometimes you’ve got to to stay fresh.

If you want to keep your hand in though I think mandolin was too close to what you’re already doing. Take up sitar and Indian classical music, or piano and barrelhouse, something completely different from what you’ve been doing.

KFG

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Re: burned out

I was wondering where you went also. My advice take a break, and try something else (pretty much what KFG and everyone else is saying). Take up something hard to learn like Flute or Uilleann Pipes both take a while to really get into and you won’t be playing tunes on either for a while which might give you what you are looking for, you might not get a decent sound out of either for a while also. Try Box those are pretty fun I played one once. Whistle is easy to learn and is a great gateway to Flute or Pipes if you wnat to know the fingerings so when you do get it you can play. When I get a day where the Flute is not where my heart is I pull out the Tenor Banjo (if you are wondering I have settled on Flute and traded my Mandolin for a Tenor Banjo). Of course I would not bring my Banjo to my Session (finally I have one), because I don’t play it enough but it is a good break when I need one. Another thing to do is try getting a new Fiddle (if you have the cash of course) a new instrument always makes me want to play every tune I know on it.

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Re: burned out

I know how you feel, that happened to me a little while ago. Here’s what I did, it fixed it for me: Maybe you could try going to a different session that you normally don’t visit. If it’s a long drive, it still might be worth it, sometimes meeting new musicians with new techniques and tunes is really inspirational and can renew your enthusiasm. It did for me. Good luck, I hope everything turns out okay!

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I have 4 words — a trip to Ireland. If anything will rekindle your affinity for ITM a trip to Ireland is just what the doctor ordered. Every trip I’ve made there has energized and inspired me immensely. There’s nothing like getting the flavor of the place where the music you fell in love with comes from and meeting great Irish players. Whenever my drive to play seems to be waning I’ll reminisce about my trips and even find inspiration from that as well. Also, reflecting on what it was about the music that originally captured my imagination will help. Good luck.

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I guess I qualify as an "older" musician. I agree - take a break for a while. I would also add —— take up dancing if you don’t already dance. One of the main reason this music exists at all is that people dance to it. Find a dance in your area the Larry Edelman is calling and plan to go to it. He is an excellent dance teacher as well as a fine musician (he plays fiddle and mandolin). Learn to dance while you listen to the music. There are at least two benefits of this. First, you will have fun. Not a bad use of your time. Second, you may find that either you really like dancing and decide to do more of it or, you get inspired to play music again. Whatever happens you get something out of it. Good luck.

Re: burned out

As dwdeacon pointed out, with over 6000 tunes to choose from, do you need to keep playing the same ones all the time?

If you’re bored of the fiddle, try another instrument, maybe a blower or a strummer, to get a different angle on the music.

If you’re bored of the tunes, learn some new ones.

Or just take a break. The fiddle will call you back when you’re ready it.

Re: burned out

What they all said.

Don’t be afraid of having a break - apart from going a little rusty, you won’t lose what you’ve got.

You say "Im at a plateau where I dont think im getting any better" —— Another privelege of being an older musician is the ability to enjoy the plateau. It’s not a bad place to be. Walking in the mountains isn’t always about getting to the top.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year -

Dave

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Three years seems ever such a short time to have been playing Irish fiddle. Can you say you’ve mastered the difficult and sophisticated intricacies that Irish fiddle playing demands? Maybe you have in which case I take back everything I imply !
I’ve known too many viloinists who have taken to traditional fiddle playing and think it’s just a matter of learning to play tunes. Serious players know that it takes a lifetime to master the music (whatever their chosen instrument) ; you never stop learning. There are so many great and inspiring players to listen to.

Re: burned out

My wife is on a break from her fiddle, hasn’t played in nine months. We were in a group, playing lots of gigs (it was March—not all of those gigs are fun), and putting together a CD, which wasn’t turning out as well as we had expected, so the music had gotten intermixed with a lot of pressure and frustration. When her break started, I thought she was giving up playing in public, not giving up playing altogether. I dearly miss the moments we spent almost every day playing together—perhaps only 15 minutes or so, but it was the high point of my day. I hope she starts up again sometime, but I don’t want to push her, that doesn’t work. So, like that little dog in the Victorola ad, I sit patienty and wait….

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Play classical music obligato for a while. After all that structure you’ll find joy in the trad tunes again.

Mary

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I think the answer is in your statement "I’m growing bored playing the same songs over and over again." Listen to some material you’ve never heard before, something new, exciting, and difficult. Then learn it.

Re: burned out

Thanks for all the tips guys. How are all your lives doing by the way? Long time no speak. I think for me dancing might be the way to go. Ive been contra dancing since I was in the womb, and as I get older its something Im starting to enjoy more. Ive also always wanted to learn to Irish dance, but couldn’t afford to cause I was taking violin. Now that I might take a break, I have that extra cash. Happy holidays everyone!

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There’s a book called "Making music for the fun of it "that I have found helpful for motivation. It not only reminds you that there are peaks and valleys but energizes you to hang in there until you get through the inevitable plateaus. Good luck

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banana512,
I took two years of adult Irish step dance class in my late 40s, and even though I was awful at it, I had a lot of fun (and I did become a better ceilidhe dancer because of the training). I was the token man in a class of about 15 women (the wife was in the class, too, and kept me in line)!
Main thing is to enjoy!

Re: burned out

When I go out and see a group or an individual playing live, I get a pang in my belly and want to leave early, go home, and pick up an instrument.

The muse is a bit like a housecat — it has a mind of its own. If it gets away, you chase it all you like but it’ll just run farther off. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but go inside, sit down, have a drink, and wait for it to come back.

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"Contra dancing" - is that anything like line dancing?
I’ve never heard the term before.
Sounds like a good alternative to Bingo, though.

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More like square dancing, only kinda different.

Re: burned out

the music is better than square dancing music, that I can say for sure. If you combine square dancing and english country dancing you get contra . .more or less . . big lines like the english country dancing, but the spinning and foot tapping fun that you get in sqaure dancing, plus the moves are called the same thing.

Re: burned out

I havn’t had time for this to really happen to me. At 14, I’m only scratching the surface.
It’ll help if you have interests outside Irish music. I’m a rallyfan. So when I’m not playing, I could go to a rally or even enter one!!!! :p:
Also, different musical tastes would help, as already mentioned. Go a little classical or bluegrass for a while. Try and stay playing, even if its not Irish. I’ve always thought it was quite impossible to give up playing completley.

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Banana512, in my 20s I stopped playing the cello completely for 8 years (literally, it didn’t leave its case during all that time) because of the pressures of work and study. When I returned to playing, within two weeks it was like I’d never got off the bus - technique was still there and intact. I joined a local symphony orchestra and stayed with it for the next 30 years or so until Irish fiddle music discovered me and wanted to know why was I playing in a symphony orchestra on Monday evenings when there was a perfectly good Irish session in a pub a couple of miles away. The rest is history, although I still play cello in a chamber orchestra, which I now find much more enjoyable than an 80-piece symphony orchestra.

If you have a sound technique - which you must surely have after 12+3 years of violin/fiddle - you’re not going to lose it if you’re away from the instrument for a long period of time (serious illness excepting). The worst that can happen will be getting strength and control back in specialised muscle and tendon groupings which I wouldn’t expect to take more than a few weeks at the most. The neural and mental control and skills should still be there, pretty well intact.

Trevor

Re: burned out

You’re still quite young. Don’t worry about it. It might be a good idea to make a list of your tunes and write down their beginnings. When I took a long break in my thirties I had kept a list with the titles but afterwards couldn’t remember how a lot of them went.
I enjoyed trying to play various kinds of music from classic to rock. It was fun to return to ITM when I met the right kind of people to start again.

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Re: burned out

well happy holidays everyone and thanks for the tips