Musical Frustration
August 2015

What do you do when the music stops flowing? This month, Tom Hess has some great advice for musical frustration.

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Musical Frustration

by Tom Hess

Are you musically frustrated with yourself? Are you not the musician that you want to be? Or not as good as you could be or should be? Do you look with envy at other musicians who are doing what you wish you could be doing? Does reaching your greatest musical goals seem out of reach?

I think just about everyone has had these thoughts go through their mind from time to time. Fortunately, you are not alone and there are things you can do to combat the negativity of frustration. Many of the great masters of music have been frustrated at times with their own musical abilities. I've provided four (4) examples from famous classical composers:

1. Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827) worked for long periods of time on his compositions before completing them. He revised his pieces over and over again, reworking them, doubting his original efforts. This was almost unheard of in Beethoven's time. Many of you may already know that Beethoven gradually became deaf later in his life. Because of this, Beethoven quit performing as a pianist in 1814 (13 years before his death).

2. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was so frustrated with his songwriting abilities that he spent twenty-one (21) years composing his first symphony! He felt as if he could never compose a symphony as well as Beethoven. Brahms kept starting over with his symphony, revising it, abandoning it, starting over, reworking it, etc.

3. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) (master of symphonies), revised his symphonies and other works after having doubts about what he had composed originally. Mahler kept revising his works until his death. It must have been frustrating to keep revising pieces that were already published.

4. Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) actually stopped composing for about 30 years because he felt that he had run out of new musical ideas. He doubted his abilities to compose anything worthwhile at the height of his popularity. He worked on writing new songs for those 30 or so years, sketching his ideas during the day and throwing them away every time. That is some very serious frustration!

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