Dealing With Frustration When Learning A Musical Instrument

No matter the activity in life, frustration is a reality even when doing something fun like learning a musical instrument. Accepting this fact and having strategies to deal with frustration will turn a seemingly negative element into something that can be used to move your playing forward and ultimately help you grow. Let’s explore some strategies on how to deal with frustrations and turn them into a tool to help us out in the long run.

Frustration Due To Jealousy

It is natural to look at other musicians and be envious of their abilities. However, it is important to realize that while every musician has been on the same path as you, they just might be on a different section of the path. It is often easy to chalk off someone’s advanced ability to natural talent. Hard work and determination will pay off in the long run. Instead of letting frustration and jealousy turn into a negative emotional mindset, ask the musician that has an ability you wish you had how they got to where they are. You might be surprised with the answer, and might learn something new from them. Once you know this information, instead of trying to duplicate what the other musician did, determine a way to adapt the new information to your current strategy. For example, if the new information is that the musician practices 2 hours of technique and 1 hour of music a day but you only practice 10 minutes of technique and 50 minutes of music, try switching it up to 45 minutes of technique and 15 minutes of music. Both combinations equate to a total of one hour of practice.

Frustration Due To Inability On The Instrument

Every musician has been here! You practice for hours and don’t seem to make any progress. Frustration takes over and you wonder why to even bother. At times it is hard to observe progress due to the nature of the long learning curve some skill sets take. Having a practice journal can help us see incremental progress. Let’s say there is an exercise with a fast run of notes. Set the metronome to 60 beats per minute (bpm) and work on the exercise for a few days until you can finally play the exercise cleanly. Record the progress in your practice journal and then try bumping up the tempo to 62 bpm. This time it might only take you two days to play the exercise cleanly. Again, make an entry into your practice journal. Then bump up the tempo to 64 bpm. You might be surprised that it only took one day to adjust to this new tempo. While going from 60 bpm to 64 bpm may not be a big jump, you know it took 5 days of work and can see this progress when reviewing your practice journal. This provides a good positive feeling which motivates you to keep going. After two weeks you might be at 80 bpm or faster and observing incremental progress might have helped get you there.

Frustration Due To Being In A Band

When playing with others the sources of potential frustration increase due to the social circumstances of being in a group. Ideally, everyone has an equal voice and ability so that the band as a whole can move forward as one unit. In reality, there will always be stronger and weaker players who must find ways to contribute to making music together. After a while, It is natural to feel frustrated when there is someone that doesn’t take responsibility and gets defensive when elements in their playing are pointed out. The saying ‘if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all’ helps to lower the potential frustration level. At times, the best strategy is to play your instrument to the best of your ability and let the other musicians figure things out. Unless you’re the bandleader, the job of deciding who is or isn’t in a band isn’t yours. Keep your head down and focus on making the best music you can. If you aren’t having fun anymore in a group, perhaps consider moving on to a different group. After all, music is meant to be fun, not frustrating. 

Now that you are aware of these tools and strategies, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

Supporting Your Child’s Music Education

As a parent or caregiver of a younger musician, you might be wondering how best to support your child’s music education in the best way possible. As with other elements of a child’s development, having a degree of involvement will help the child progress and feel supported during his or her musical development. Taking lessons from a great teacher is the first step, but what will determine how successful your child grows in music will largely depend on what happens in between music lessons. No matter if your child is taking music lessons online or in person, this blog will offer some suggestions that when followed will allow your child to grow his or her music skills.

Scheduled Practice Sessions

Many times we hear that the start of a plan is making a list or writing down goals. This is true to when it comes to music practice. During a busy schedule, it can be tricky finding the time to get together and practice with your child, but consistency is key here. If your child only has 20 minutes three or four times a week to practice, it is better than not practicing at all. Put the practice sessions in your calendar. Having a calendar on the fridge provides a great reminder of what the schedule is and since going into the kitchen is an everyday activity, it’s the perfect place to display the schedule. While on the topic of consistency, having a dedicated space to practice is also great for keeping things organized and giving your child a visual indication that it’s now time to practice. For the younger children, having them put a sticker on the schedule when a practice session is complete provides a reward for doing a good job. 

Ask Your Music Teacher So You Can Support Your Child

You don’t have to be an expert to support your child during music practice. Often an adult might feel that he or she is “not musically inclined”, but there are simple steps at the beginning stages of every instrument that can be followed in order to give your child some support. Make sure you ask your child’s music teacher what to look for when it comes to posture so that physically good habits can be reinforced. Going slow and steady is always a good thing. In the beginning there usually aren’t too many notes at once, so get to know what fingering to use for specific notes, or how to tell if you are on pitch for specific notes. Your music teacher likely has a few apps or tools that can help you. If you are completely stuck, record your child’s music lessons and listen back, paying attention to specific rhythms, tempos, or any other information that will help you confirm that your child is on track to musical success.

Passive Listening

In a previous blog entitled ‘How To Listen To Music’ we explored the difference between passive and active listening. When possible, record an exercise or get the audio track of the piece of music your child is working on. Then, whenever there is an opportunity to listen to the exercise or audio track, put it on in the background. This could be when you’re in the car, preparing dinner, or putting your child to bed. By passively listening, your child will be able to get a sense of what an exercise or piece of music sounds like. When it comes time to play the exercise or music, there will be a sense of familiarity. 

Keeping Track Using a Dictation Book

Most teachers will be used to having a dictation book, either physically or electronically, to take notes, write out key takeaways of the lessons, keep track of short-term and long-term developments, and as a means to communicate in writing with the parent. This can also be done for practice sessions. Keep track of what exercise or music was practiced during each session. Take note of the tempo that your child was able to play cleanly. Over time you will see that the tempo marking goes up, giving a sense of success and encouragement that with practice, development happens. Going from quarter note equals 60 to quarter note equals 62 may not seem like a big difference, but going from 60 to 62 is a progression and exciting to the young music student

Now that you are aware of these tools and strategies, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? If you are wondering if online music lessons really work check out THIS BLOG  and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

Types of Microphones for the Developing Music Student

If you are an online music student you might already own a microphone, but this blog will discuss the different types of microphones are out there and ultimately which is best for you. While there are many technical considerations, we will focus on the general concepts of each microphone.

There are many different reasons why you might want to invest in your own mic, and certainly the Pandemic has added another reason. Sharing anything is not something that is encouraged during today’s climate. 

There are of course several considerations when looking at what might be suitable. Cost, type of environment, and the level of care needed are considerations for the three types of mics we will discuss, which are Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon.


Affordable, strong, and up for many tasks, this type of microphone is a great first investment. The most popular Dynamic Microphone found in most recording studios is the Shure Beta57 and Beta58. At a price point of under $150, it is a favourite amongst beginner musicians as it can take a beating, but of course, care should always be taken to not drop it. Out of the three mics discussed here on this blog, this one can take the most abuse. It is just as good for a noisier environment as it is for picking up what is directly in front of it but ignoring what is around it. Where it does lack is when needing to pick up quieter sound sources. If this is what’s needed, a condenser microphone might be just the thing!


Higher cost, more sensitive, and able to pick up quieter sound sources. This microphone is a great step up from its dynamic brother. It comes in both large and small diaphragm versions and does require a power source called phantom power in order to operate. There are many makers and models, preference largely comes down to taste and dependability. AKG C1000S are great for horn microphones, the Rode NT2A is a wonderful all-around option, and if you are trying to pick up a room sound look at the Rode NT5. Still, want more? 


If you want to pick up and replicate the most accurate version of your sound source, a Ribbon is your best friend. However, this friend comes at a cost and it’s not cheap. Most are $1000 and up, some can be below this price point but quality must be considered when searching for the perfect Ribbon. These are also the most fragile of all microphones. Consideration must be given to handling with the utmost care. Royer 121/122 and the AudioTechnica AT4081 are great starting points when researching this type of mic.

Other considerations

Of course, no mic is complete without a stand. Consider not buying the cheapest stand, especially if you take the stand with you to gigs. A mid-level stand can be around $50 but is well worth the extra money due to the longevity.

XLR cables, the type of cable that connects the mic to the soundboard, are also a good investment. Try to get a 50’ cable to make sure there is enough length, but remember that you can also put two XLR cables together to extend. Last but not least, a windscreen or windsock will be useful, especially when using the mic outside.

Now that you are familiar with the basics, explore and find out which mic gives you the sound you are looking for because at the end of the day that is what matters most.

What else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.