Afraid of your musical burnout? 6 minutes of comforting advice

Recently a letter appeared in my email from a flautist I’ll call ‘Victor’.

Dear Jessica, 

I studied flute in the school and this year I will graduate from the Romanian music university from Bucharest. I am not graduating from the university in flute performance, but in pedagogy. Currently I do not feel any passion in playing the flute but I know that I can do more, yet I have no motivation to give the world my music. I don’t know why. 

For 5 years I’ve been playing in an orchestra… I do not play very much but I feel inside of me something that gives me no peace and does not let me get away from music. From the outside I feel like a stone, cold and distant, but inside I am like a fire and I know that I can do more than I am already. But I don’t feel any motivation. What can I do? 
Last year I bought a new flute, but he is standing for a long time in a case. Is there a solution for this?

Thank you for you answer, 

It would have been really easy for me to write Victor something like:

Dear Victor, 

Look, sometimes you just gotta show up and force yourself to play–that’s what we musicians have to do sometimes.  Believe me– I know first-hand about what I have to tell myself when I don’t feel like practicing. So get on with it; start getting your money’s worth out of that new flute already. Chin up.

Good luck!

But… I don’t really think that this type of answer would have helped me much when I was experiencing my own musical burnout. Sure, we certainly need to show up to our art–even if we’d rather be cleaning hair out of a clogged shower drain, but it’s certainly not my final words on this matter.

Instead, I have made this little 6 minute video for Victor, and anyone else who might be in a similar spot.


I speak about

— ‘Ebb and Flow’ as part of the artistic process
— Giving yourself permission to let the flute go (if you need to)
— The potential need for ‘Artistic Rebirth’

Think of it as the chat we’d have if we were having beach-side mojitos together.


P.S. And speaking of beaches, registration is now open for The Refreshed Flautist Retreat 2017…!

Thanks to Mysticmama for use of the photo above.
Your invitation to join me for 4 Days of Fluting + Relaxation in Cornwall
Everything I know about receiving support (artistic, or otherwise)

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One Response to Afraid of your musical burnout? 6 minutes of comforting advice

  1. Debi Partridge February 18, 2017 at 4:52 am #

    I loved hearing your response to “Victor” about his lack of enthusiasm and being stuck in his creativity. Although not a musician, I am an artist, who also experiences some periodic burnout, even after painting 40 years! I have learned with time and wisdom, that the down time is a normal pattern, and during that time of resting my brain and my paintbrushes, it is a time of deep introspect. When I am ready to paint agin, it flows with concise rhythm and my work is filled with passion and usually some of my greatest works come after a time of total shutdown. I hope that Victor can find his enthusiasm again, and will find a totally new spirit to his flute playing. Your words were kind and geared toward helping him get recharged to give it another go.

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