so first, I must say I JUST discovered this site and I am absolutely blown away!!! it's so wonderful to find a community of honest, passionate musicians looking to better themselves and the broader music community as a whole.

that said, I have a serious, but rather depressing, question. I hate that this will be my very first post here, but it's so very important. [!!]WARNING: I am including a somewhat brief history of how I came to discover myself as a musician and my life therein leading to the issue[!!]: I have studied music all my life but I am one of only 2 musician's in my entire extended family (and the other doesn't take a studious approach, but his cover band makes plenty of money). when I was very young, between the ages of 4 and 5, my dad gave me an old, cheap casio that I, for whatever reason at that time, fell absolutely head over heals for. my father raised me almost solely on frank zappa and free formed jazz tunes, and as SOON as we would get home from wherever I would run inside to find my casio before the memory of whatever main melody my mind would infatuate itself with and work it out until I could successfully play it over and over. as you can imagine, a 5 year old sounding out zappa melodies on a keyboard from memory was cause for piano lessons immediately. at 6, I heard Brian May's guitar solo from the end of "we will rock you" for the first time... I never touched another set of keys again. over the next several years I took lessons from a young man named Alex Muhel who, unbeknownst to me at the time, would instill in my mind the idea that no musician should ever settle down, or identify (at least internally) with any one sound or style and true self worth as a musician comes from an unquenchable thirst for more (just more... question everything and embrace that you will never know everything). one day, Alex moved back to Germany... i was devastated. the next few years i spent honing my abilities to self-teach, until i reached a point where i could no longer continue without SOME kind of teacher showing me the way. at this point i'm around the ages of 14~15, and it's at this point i would begin lessons with the man who i now consider a mentor to me. Jason Meyers, a variable encyclopedia of every facet, every... well, every THING involved in music (to me this means two things, the first is practice as a musician and the second is the collecting and listening side). from there i went on to get a scholarship to attend MI and it's my belief that this is around the time my current situation would begin to gestate in some dark corner of my mind. after 3 quarters of finishing as one of the top students in my classes i started getting lazy. not that i played any less but i started sleeping in and skipping classes, dated a girl from the other side of the tracks, i'm sure plenty of you know where i'm going, haha. during a final in my 4th quarter one my teachers begrudgingly hands me an A- but explains that because i had almost 0 participation throughout the quarter i would just barely pass. he said something that stuck with me for a few years after, "you're an amazing player, but this institution isn't designed well enough for musician's like you". musician's like me... i still don't know what he meant, i have my thoughts but i gave up on searching for that answer long ago. after college i involved myself with every project i could get my hands on. i would join groups performing anything from improvisational jazz (another story i'd love to tell sometime) to pop to reggae. as an avid tone freak and sound journeyman i was even involved with EDM and dubstep dj's. i hand my hands in everything i could find. one day, a very very dear friend of mine would die in a car crash and i would hear this news from a phone call of a mutual acquaintance. that night i implored the help of a friend who would give me the first taste of the only substance i have ever, and would ever, lose control of and this is not said lightly. for years i did drugs and i did ALL of them. like music, my disposition was that of complete openness and curiosity but no one drug ever came close to getting a hold on me as an addiction... except meth. YOU MEAN I CAN PRACTICE GUITAR FOR 32 HOURS AND NEVER GET TIRED. i was sold before i could even make sense of what was happening. that coupled with the much larger issue that i was using this drug as a crutch to cope with the loss of my friend (and then a slew of deaths and a suicide from another dear friend that followed the years after. slowly i noticed myself playing less and less. and now we come to the crux of this whole post. i am a musician... and this isn't an identity thing, this is a, inherit fact of my existence in this universe. i am a musician much the same way the ocean is, or a mountain is. i am now 27, i am a father of the happiest 10 month old baby you will ever know. i am clean (in the sense that i no longer use meth). i have a job setting up lighting and audio for live events in downtown Los Angeles. (i'm starting to cry as i write this). practice eludes me... i feel motivation to continue my journey like a fair-weather friend... in the last 2 years i have performed 1 show... this is so hard to type, but i'm scared. but i'm REALLY crying right now. i'm having to pause occasionally to let it out, i mean that MUST mean all that drive is still in me somewhere, right? somewhere in some recess of my mind that I've just forgotten how to get back to and it's screaming for help. i'm SURE i can't be the only person alive who has felt this way and i'm so tired... my soul is exhausted and frustrated and i just can't keep going only to find another road block. please, can someone give me advice. i don't care if it's from personal experience or where it comes from i just need help... sometimes i question who i am anymore and it's a feeling i wouldn't wish on my worst of enemies.

thank you for taking time out of your life to read about mine, and from musician to musician, i really love you all. without music i am nothing, and without us music is nothing.

sincerely, Josh

  • Hi Josh, & welcome to Music.SE! Your story is moving, and I'm sure there are others on this site who can relate. This particular SE site exists for questions about music theory, composition, technique, practice, & performance. So that others can engage most productively, could you clarify what your question is? Are you hoping to hear others' advice on how they stay motivated? If so, your question might be a better fit for the Cognitive Science SE site, which encompasses topics like human motivation. – jdjazz Jun 25 '17 at 22:04
  • The StackExchange sites are carefully divided so that each question has a distinct home, and the Music.SE site is somewhat narrowly focused in the questions that are considered "on topic." But even if this particular question migrates to a different SE site or is closed by a moderator, we're very glad to have you joining our ranks! I look forward to having someone with your expertise on the forum. – jdjazz Jun 25 '17 at 22:07
  • Of course, I might not be correctly interpreting the site's goals, in which case I thank you for your patience. One of the site's very dedicated moderators will provide more guidance, and in the meantime, you might get a useful answer! The small piece of advice I can share is that, in my experience, moments of self doubt and deep introspection are extremely important opportunities for me to reevaluate my decisions and life path. Working through those feelings has often helped me make big changes that lead me down a different path in life. – jdjazz Jun 25 '17 at 22:33
  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! o wow... so this is a whole collection of sites? i'm smitten, haha. ok ok. then to the cognitive sciences thread i go. can't wait to use this site in particular, though it took a lot of courage to get all of what i wrote out so maybe i should come back here after I've gained some insight. – Joshua Lopez Jun 25 '17 at 22:55
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    Joshua - if you can slim this down to a readable single question (I'd suggest one paragraph on how to start practicing again, as Tim identified that as the main question in there) - if you can do that, we can take it off hold. In its current form it's just not readable. Our tour and How to Ask pages have a lot of useful guidance. – Doktor Mayhem Jun 26 '17 at 11:59

Welcome to the site! Your question must have taken a lot to write, let's hope to a degree it was cathartic. Don't worry about downvoters - they rarely identify themselves, or their oft nebulous reasons for doing so.

I think the main drift is how to start practising again. I'd say don't. At the moment. Instead, just get out there and play. Join a band, go to open mic sessions. You already sound like a fair player, so should be able to hold your own in cicumstances like those.

Practice needs to have purpose behind it. E.g. preparing for an exam, a big gig, a recital, an audition. Yes, of course we all improve (supposedly!) by practising, but most of us will reach a plateau and feel stale. It's probably where you are, but for a myriad of diverse reasons.

So - leave that side alone until inspiration hits again, which it most likely will. Until then, just get out there and play. Maybe form a duo, at which point there's a good reason to practise. Or, having played (or tried to!) some different material with others at a jam session, you'll be fired up again with the challenge.

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    It sometimes takes a great answer like this for me to see that a particular type of question is on topic. I think this is sound advice which is based on musical experience and expertise. – jdjazz Jun 26 '17 at 16:05

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