Diagnosing and solving burnout

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by chrisryche, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. chrisryche

    chrisryche New Friend

    Oct 26, 2009
    Starke, FL
    I have been playing the trumpet for nearly 30 years. Within the last 3 or 4 years I have made a bigger effort to play more and get involved with more groups in an attempt to get better as a player, performer and to just have fun. I play in a couple of community bands on a weekly basis as well as in my church orchestra. I also play in several other groups that meet from time to time throughout the year. I sub in a brass quintet on a regular basis too. I try to practice about an hour or two each day when life allows me to.

    The last month or so I have been experiencing what I would call burnout. I just have had no motivation to practice and really have not wanted to attend rehearsals. I have even taken a day or two off to just get away from the horn in hopes that was all I needed. But the motivation has not quite returned. I recently attended some concerts by the Canadian Brass and the Boston Brass. While enjoyable concerts its almost like I have gotten even more frustrated knowing my playing will never reach that standard.

    Has anyone else experienced some form of this burnout? What did you do? What would you suggest? What causes it in the first place? Where is the Dr. Phil for trumpet players when you need him?
  2. codyb226

    codyb226 Banned

    Mar 9, 2011
    Florida, US
    Why not? Why cant you be as good as those players? It is quite possible for you to be as good as these players. All you have to do is practice.

    I am not going to lie, trumpet is not for everyone. It is a demanding instrument and you need to practice. But if you have been playing for nearly 30 years, then you can play trumpet.

    Are you stressing yourself out with all of the community bands? Do they make you want to stop practicing because you are overloaded with music to play?
  3. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Cody, my friend, life gets in the way.
    My assumption is he will never be in the caliber of those in the Boston Brass or Canadian Brass. Musicians of that skill and musical level have been at it for years and cream still does rise to the top. There are many players of all instruments who never get at a very high level, no matter what they do or how much they practice.
    Most everybody suffers a bit of burn out. It is just on a very infrequent basis with top notch players and they get over it quickly.
    My suggestion to the original poster, after playing this instrument for all these years, is to just take what you have been given and enjoy it. You can certainly be a fine musician and improve and there is one very important thing to remember. Play for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. The folks in the audience are there to hear you and the other musicians on stage and are there because they want to be.
    Don't worry about the fact you won't be at that highly skilled level. Very, very few make it that far and even then it may not be the bed of roses everyone thinks it is.
    Make it a point to see the pleasure on others' faces after your performances and let that serve as an inspiration to you.
    Hang in there.
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Yep, Cody "hit the nail on the head". I too believe you are extending yourself in playing ... and the music you are playing in these various groups is not leading you upwards in skill development. To attain skill development, you must perceive a challenge in your playing.

    Individually or local community bands do not have access to the excellent arrangements of the Canadian Brass or Boston Brass or other commerical bands, orchestras, or groups of repute.

    Personally, I may not be a great player, but I enjoy it even when I have a lousy practice session. Don't obsess with being what you aren't and just attempt to play better than you did the last time you picked up this teasing instrument.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    codyb226 likes this.
  5. chrisryche

    chrisryche New Friend

    Oct 26, 2009
    Starke, FL
    Thanks for the advise guys. The thing is I have made great improvements in my playing the last 5 years or so. Stuff I used to have difficulty with years ago I find much easier to play now. I get gigs a lot so I think I have some ability to play, just not at the professional level. I think maybe I have hit a plateau of sorts and that could be the source of some of the burnout. I do have several performances coming up and the adrenaline rush of performing may be a good remedy too!
  6. patkins

    patkins Forte User

    Nov 22, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, AL.
    BURN-OUT is a progression of phases we go through in any endeavor we pursue and if we are not careful, to avoid it, it causes us detrimental harm and can lead to apathy and worse depression. There are several phases of BURN-OUT and we tend to move in and out of these phases until we have intervention to recover from it. 1) The first phase of burn-out is ENTHUSIASM. We get over-excited about what we are hoping to accomplish and may actually establish too high of an expectation of what we can accomplish in a given period of time. 2) DISILLUSION is when we discover that what we thought we could accomplish is not happening. We do not realize that we had set too high of expectations to begin with and we need to reset what was a more realistic goal. 3) FRUSTRATION occurs because we fail to realize that we have set unrealistic goals and start questioning our abilities, that we may never get any better. This leads to the next phase, 4) APATHY. It is the dead-end epitomy of BURN-OUT. Apathy causes depression, loss of sleep, energy, and motivation. It is the most severe phase of BURN-OUT. Now the most important phase that is often forgotten is: 5) INTERVENTION. INTERVENTION actually should be an ongoing process throughout our lives. It is being willing to look inward an examine ourselves at ever stage. INTERVENTION is needed at every phase. We need to not get overly enthusiastic, and set real achievable goals. We may to seek out an instructor to help guide us here and help set goals. They will help encourage us and keep us from becoming over-zealous. Also INTERVENTION is needed when we become disillusioned. We must know when to recheck ourselves and reset our goals. Actually again talking with a mentor or other peer players can help here. We must refuse disillusion and reset to a realistic goal, and we will begin to recover. INTERVENTION is also needed to correct FRUSTRATION. When we are frustrated we tense-up, we blame ourselves, we begin to think we are failures. In reality, we are not failures, we were just thinking wrong when we set unrealistic goals. When we reset and establish realistic goals, with the help of a teacher or mentor we become less frustrated, and APATHY cannot get us. However, if APATHY gets us, we are in trouble. It is much harder to get through APATHY or to INTERVENE in this phase. We may actually need to take a break or take a vacation from playing and heal. We definitely need to talk about it and work it out. Once we reset who we are, what we can truly accomplish, and be pleased with achieving realistic goals, we are ok.
    I know this was a long explanation, and I hope it helps. This has saved me throughout my life; as well as, my friends, colleagues and patients.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I am sure there are better sources of information--I found this one.Preventing Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies

    Have experienced both burnout and depression and they feel the same. Before contacting Dr. Phil, you may wish to read the following: The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Another possibility is with meds, and sometimes something like Spring can be of help.

    Wish you the best.
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Adrenaline rushes rarely leads to anything positive usless we are running after Mastidones, after spearing them, to wait for them to drop over dead, then carve them up to bring back to the tribe to feast on. Unless we do this... all that adrenaline rush leads to plaque build up and the only thing droping over dead is us.

    Relax when you play... but play EVERY DAY to gradually build up to an hour or two/per day. NO MISSED DAYS. Then you can do multiple gigs and not pass out.
  9. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    burn out is the pits ... motivaton is so varied .. some people enjoy being the top dog .. some enjoy be praised ... some living the moment in the music ... some just enjoy playing high notes or just being a part of a group. The time commitment to be able to play this brass mistress needs to be in balance with the reward. There's only so many hours in a day.
    It's probably just a low point in your bio-rythyms ... hey one can hope.
  10. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    chrisryche - I know exactly what you are experiencing, I have had this exact same thing happen several times in the past. I am just your average player and have played in top groups, average groups and some groups where I was the best player by far. I know that I will never attain the level of playing that others have and have resigned myself to be the best player of my ability. When I suffer periods of "burn-out", lack of intrest or what ever you want to call it I just force myself to keep practicing and playing. The desire all comes back together shortly and I am relieved that I didn't put the horn down during my spell because as I get older I realise just how much harder it is just to maintain my level and I don't want to have to lose what I have. I too have been playing for eons but I also believe that I am playing better and more musically [is that a term?] in the past 5-6 years. Hang in there and Good Luck my friend.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012

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