Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Remain Motivated as a Musician

Learn how to keep believing in yourself through your music making

In this video, Robert talks about how to remain motivated despite common problems musicians encounter during their musical career.

Released on May 18, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is and, and I am Robert Estrin with a viewer question. How do you remain motivated as a musician?

I get questions from people all the time, and it can be a really tough thing. After all, you put yourself out there as a musician in front of people who can accept you or reject you. So, how do you stay motivated when things haven't gone your way? Well you have to realize that music is incredibly subjective. As a matter of fact, just this weekend I performed a private concert. And often times at private concerts, there were people sometimes they are very sophisticated and appreciative. And sometimes, as in this case, the audience was less sophisticated. There was talking going on.

Did I take this personally? Of course not. But I've had many, many years and many performances to understand there's different viewpoints that people have, and it's not all about you. Even if you're the one up on stage with all the lights on you, it's not all about you. People have other things in their minds, and they have different frames of reference. The other thing to consider is that you may take audition after audition, and maybe you win everything you go to, and then maybe you go on a losing streak. You might look deep within yourself and go, "What happened to me?" And often times, there's a random element to this.

You could take superstars, even some of the...Lady Gaga, people told her for years she'd never amount to anything. She didn't have the talent, she didn't have to looks, but she persevered. Because she believed, she had a vision, and she kept fighting for it. And you know what? Ultimately the people in music who make it are people who are going to do it no matter what anybody says or thinks, because it's just a dying passion that you have to do it for better or for worse, and that is really the life of any artist. So look deep within yourself. If you have a really strong passion for anything in this world, there is a way to find some way to incorporate it in your life.

Does that mean you're going to be the next superstar, traveling the world, making millions of dollars? Probably not. But can you find a niche for yourself doing what you love and sharing your passion with others? If you stay on it long enough, absolutely. Don't take failure too seriously. It's a learning experience that you can actually rise above, and do great things in your life, and not give up on your dreams. So stay motivated in your practice, give yourself performance opportunities, and don't take it personally when you don't win the contest, or competition, or any audition. All right, hope this is helpful.

You're welcome to send your letters and emails at, and I will use them in future videos and our podcast. Thanks so much for joining me. Robert here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Robert W. Francis * VSM MEMBER * on September 19, 2018 @6:42 pm PST
I am 73 years old and started to take cello lessons ~ 3 years ago after I retired as an aerospace engineer. I have had no previous musical training and never learned to read music. Your presentation and advice has given me renewed and continued hope and interest to continue my studies when I get frustrated with myself.
Thank you very much for your insights and encouragement,
Robert W. Francis
Robert Estrin - host, on September 21, 2018 @4:22 pm PST
It's a funny thing - I have been playing the piano for 55 years. Yet, every day provides a new learning experience. It's all about the journey!
Henrik on May 29, 2016 @2:47 am PST
I remember Bill Evans who played both jazz and classical said that it's much more fun if you find out or figure out the music for yourself. I guess he meant that a teacher should refrain from telling everything to the somewhat frustrated student. How can the frustrade student I am one then become motivated? Frustration isn't always that motivating.
Carole Byrne on May 19, 2016 @9:06 am PST
Thank you for this encouraging message. I'm 79 years young, and not really at the top of my game..But, I love playing ! I enjoy the fellowship of my fellow musicians. I practice as much as time will allow, and still want to improve my technique. I'm even taking lessons from a fine professional who is kind and patient enough to keep me inspired and growing.
Jose * VSM MEMBER * on May 19, 2016 @5:48 am PST
Perseverance Is the way to obtain anything in life
Doug Baker on May 18, 2016 @11:46 pm PST
Very encouraging! If no one else likes what I play, so what , I enjoy doing it and sometimes there is appreciation.
Tammy Hall * VSM MEMBER * on May 18, 2016 @7:15 am PST
How true is this! Thank you! If you get knocked down time and again, pick yourself up and move on. Someone, somewhere will enjoy your gifts.
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