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Musical Support Groups

Hands in a circle, colourful sweaters

As we work hard to become the musicians and artists we aspire to be, it can be helpful to have the support of others who are on the same journey. By creating a small group with other musicians, we can build a valuable support system through which we hold each other accountable, offer assistance with goals and obstacles, and challenge one another in new and important ways.

In his book The Practice of Groundedness, Brad Stulberg suggests forming groups of between two and eight people to provide support in living the principles of groundedness. We can apply the same strategy to help us build our musical lives by regularly meeting with like minded musicians. Brad suggests the following for group meetings: “[D]iscuss your goals, common challenges, successes, and failures. Share your strategies and tools. Hold each other accountable, but also provide love and support when someone falters.”

One of the biggest challenges in supporting a musical life is remaining consistent with our practice and projects. It can be easy to let music fall by the wayside, especially if we feel we’re only letting ourselves down. But by being part of a group where we are required to share what we’ve been practicing and creating, we will be less inclined to skip out on doing the work. As with any habit, we all inevitably stumble, so it’s important to have a group that shows compassion as well as encouragement.

Being a musician means facing many obstacles related to our goals—some we might not know how to overcome, or others that feel insurmountable. Searching the internet for solutions can be overwhelming and time consuming, and it’s often difficult to tell if someone’s advice is sound if we know nothing of their history with music. But within a group of people we know and trust, we can benefit from each other’s diverse backgrounds and experiences to solve a wide variety of musical problems.

Finding success with our goals means consistently doing the work—even when we feel we aren’t getting anywhere—and picking ourselves up when we stumble. Being able to hear about other musicians’ successes and failures can keep us from quitting by showing us what is possible, and how to recover—and learn from—failure.

An essential part of growing consistently as a musician is learning and working on new and challenging material, concepts, and projects. Regularly meeting with serious musicians can keep us inspired and pushed beyond our comfort zone. In Scott Young’s book Ultralearning he explains: “Joining communities of people who are actively engaged in learning… encourages constant exposure to new ideas and challenges.” This environment can also push us to be better at our craft by exposing us to the kind of feedback critical for improvement. Other musicians will be able to hear our music with fresh ears and can point out areas we need to work on that we otherwise would not have noticed.

As Brad explains: “[A] group will benefit not only you but also everyone else involved.” Whether a support group focuses on a single instrument, songwriting, or more general aspects of being a musician, we all thrive when we can connect with and help lift one another up.


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