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Listening to Music that isn't created on your instrument

by John Marvin Scott about a year ago in how to

How to not get stuck in the infinite loop of what you know

What instrument do you play? Regardless of what it is, I can (almost) guarantee that if I checked out your Spotify library I would see that at least 50% of what you listen to is built around the instrument you play. If its guitar, I bet I'll find something that comes from the rock and roll movement, whether it be digressed from Hendrix and Zepp, or if it comes from a more blues oriented world such as Muddy Waters and maybe down the road of Kenny Wayne Sheppard. If it's piano, I bet I'll find popular tunes written by people like Sam Smith and John Legend, any maybe I'll find some classic arrangements of beautiful 1930s broadway standards.


I truly believe all of us get stuck in the familiar. This really goes for anything and everything, but I see it especially in the music industry becayse I live it every single day. I see trumpet playres who are dying for these super obscure records that only trumpet players listen to...guess why? BECAUSE THERE'S A TRUMPET PLAYER ON THE RECORD!

Let me say something first: Being into your instrument is hella cool. Don't ever stop doing that. But what I want you to consider is branching out of your familar circle (if you haven't already). Here are a couple reasons why I love this concept:

Listening to other music cultures us and cultivates our mind musically

This is the biggest reason I started diving into a lot of the music I listen to actively now. I found that I was unaware of a lot of things that made music what it was, and when I learned more about these other types of music in the world, I not only learned more about the world I live in, but I learned more about myself.

An example of this might be if you're a guitarist, try diving into some orchestral music. For me, doing this allowed for me to view music from a totally different perspective. Although the harmonic and melodic ideas might be very similar comparing the two, but how we execute those ideas in a symphonic setting as opposed to a guitaristic setting are completely different.

It helps us to get a fresh start on our own instrument

This is a concept that is extremely close to my heart. I’ve written before that I got Tendonitis in 2016 and I’m still recovering from it all. In my experience, I needed a fresh start when it came to playing the guitar. I was scared to play because I didn’t want to get injured again. I didn’t want to pick up the instrument at all because of the thought of getting injured again.

Listening to music that isn’t performed on the guitar was an experience I cannot describe to you. feel like the only music out there is what you know. When I started seeking out music that wasn’t performed on guitar, I started to realize how global music really is. That really is a concept that seems so simple, hey? But it gave me the tools to expand my horizons and it allowed me to take a break from guitar music and to dive into different types of music from around the world.

Sometimes taking a break is a good thing

Do you sometimes feel that you listen to/play the same music all the time? Maybe you have 5 albums consistently on repeat, or maybe when you sit at the piano you only play the last tune you REALLY learned.

I think we’ve all been there, or at least I have. Sometimes I find that taking a break from the music we listen to consistently can actually be a good thing, both for your musicality but also your mental/emotional health.

A tool that I use for this is Spotify’s Discover Playlists. Since the algorithm picks out what I like and what I don’t like, it really helps me to move past the music I know and to help me discover something new.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love some records. They slap. But, expanding my horizons musically is more important to me (personally) then listening to the same music over and over.

What do you do to get out of the loop?

I’d love to know what you do to get un-stuck (musically, of course). If you have any fresh ideas about how to become more mindful about the music you listen to, shoot me a message on any platform ever! I’d love to hear from you. ☺️

Until next time,

John Marvin Scott

how to
John Marvin Scott
John Marvin Scott
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John Marvin Scott

Musician/Composer writing about my experiences in the world of music.

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