If you’ve been playing guitar for any amount of time, you’ve probably experienced a “burn out” somewhere along the way. Maybe several.
- You lose sight of what you first loved about the instrument, or at least the piece of music you’re working on.
- Practice becomes joyless.
- You begin to wonder why you’re putting in all this hard work.
After completing 6 years of study for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in classical guitar performance, I was so burned out that I didn’t pick up my guitar for months. I had lost all sense of excitement in my playing and felt no joy in my practice.
I needed change.
Since I had no idea how or where to find the inspiration I needed, I decided to slowly ease back into playing by making 6-second guitar videos on Vine. Following the pattern of other musicians on the platform, I started making mini-arrangements of themes from my favorite movies, tv shows, and video games.
In doing so, I stumbled across something really special. I had found the much-needed change I needed to bring joy back to my playing, and I can attribute that change to 2 specific qualities of this music.
2 reasons why playing music from movies, tv, and video games rekindled my love for the guitar:
1) Music cues our emotional connection to the story
When we watch a good movie or tv show or play an immersive video game, we develop emotional connections to the characters and stories within them. For those moments, it doesn’t matter that it isn’t real; we become emotionally invested in this alternate world.
Music plays a big part in that. The musical themes presented in these stories strengthen that connection we feel. When I play the opening theme from Star Wars, for example, a part of me gets to experience that story again.
The same is true for my audience. I quickly realized how much I loved playing this music for people, because it allowed me to give them the opportunity to feel the emotions and memories associated with their favorite stories and characters.
Giving such a special experience to your audience is what makes music so powerful.
2) It’s different
Part of the reason for my musical burnout was that I wasn’t excited about the music I was playing anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I love the classical guitar repertoire. It’s home to a vast range of beautifully diverse music, but I needed something new.
Arranging and playing music from movies, tv, and video games allowed me to create something new and unique. Nobody is going to arrange a theme exactly the same way I do, and that’s exciting to me.
Not many serious classical guitarists have deeply explored this style of music, and I hope to change that. The widespread appeal of this music to people of all ages and backgrounds creates tons of audience-building potential for guitarists like you and me.
With this music, I can create arrangements that draw a crowd while remaining musically complex: appealing to classical and fingerstyle guitarists looking to improve their technique.
I really do believe that playing this music saved my career as a guitarist. I don’t think I would have returned to the guitar with such passion had I not discovered my love for arranging and playing this type of music.
As you’re thinking about becoming a part of my community on this site and learning with me as I teach you my arrangements, consider the potential this amazing music has to:
- Draw in your audience
- Bring excitement and fulfillment back into your playing
- Improve your technique while setting you apart as a unique guitarist
Let me know in the comments below if any of this hits home.
Have you suffered through your own musical burnouts? How were you able to overcome them?