ADHD professional musicians here?


#1

Having any trouble with self dicipline when it comes to practicing when there is no specific and imminent concert/audition to prepare for?

I teach the cello, and so working on my own stuff is really important to maintain and improve my performance skills. Also, I find even 20min will really wake my brain up (yup, playing a musical instrument is fireworks for the brain!!). But even on medication, I have real trouble getting started (except if it’s a sunny day outside which works wonders also). And then I feel guilty because freakin heck this is my passion, so why am I not gagging to do it?! And where is that hyper focus super power when you need it???

Anyone else have these experiences?


#2

So much so! Not diagnosed yet but most likely ADHD anyway.
I studied music at university and 1,5 year out of uni now and I’m still truggling to activate myself into gear to start my career!

I love music and I want to work within music, but I find it really hard to get myself to practice and create content and network and all that jazz.

I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it! Super frustrating!


#3

Create content? So you’re in more the performance and truly freelance line of work? Yes I can imagine the difficulty…! My lifeline is the fact that teaching, i.e. showing up for kids’ lessons, provides me with an automatic structure that I cannot let slide. As for creative stuff and self improvement… oh dear.

A few days ago I decided SOME practice is better than NONE, and so even if I have to set the (time) bar ridiculously low, it eventually adds up, and again, at least it’s something. So I’ve been doing the pomodoro thing. One measly 20min pomodoro a day before work. But that’s 20min more each day than I had been doing, so, yay…!

Also, I gave my boyfriend the power to police me a bit. And actually he doesn’t have to say anything, it’s enough (so far) for me to just know that I’ve told him he CAN. :blush:


#4

I think you’ve pretty much summed up why I for one am not a professional musician.


#5

Well I’m wanting to be a singer-songwriter, and also make YouTube videos, so songwriting, creating videos, practicing my singing and instruments. Not to mention trying to join a band. So many things I want to/need to be doing, yet can barely make myself do any of them. Even though I really want to!


#6

I guess I’m a weirdo. I liked to practice and then I’d go into hyperfocus.


#7

Well, I wouldn’t call that weird. I would call that lucky —that the thing that made you go into hyper focus was the thing you were meant to be doing anyway.

I never had any experience about hyper focus (unless it was about getting stuck in front of a tv screen) until I was diagnosed and started the medication. Until then I never realised how feathery light and loose my mind had always been. The medication makes it more steady, and only after I started taking them have I sometimes gone into the hyper focus thing. But even then not ever channelled solely towards practicing.


#8

Sounds about right :blush:

Do you have any friends or colleagues or family that you could ask to help you find some sort of structure or routine or something? I mean not like they have to Do anything much except sort of act as a human deadline for things. Because it sounds like you have a lot to give, but you can’t get yourself to materialise the ideas you have.

Also I would suggest inventing small bribes for yourself to get yourself to do stuff. That’s how I get more boring/ « mechanical » stuff done sometimes. Like taking out the trash — reward: a nice cappuccino from my favourite cafe. Or cleaning — reward: watch a movie whilst knitting a sock.

I wonder what bribe I could use to get myself to do _two _ pomodoro sessions tomorrow… It is Saturday, after all, so I have more time.


#9

Sounds like me back in the day, except for YouTube because that wasn’t a thing yet. (I did try to get some tunes down for MP3s but my old four-tracks were too crappy and once I tried to polish them up for publication, I got lost in notgoodenoughs.) I used to play in a blues band that never made it out of a buddy’s living room, then in another potential band that never even met up for a session, we’d just jam along whenever two or more of us met. Also. I’d write songs and record them - crappily, more as sketches than actual songs - to four-track for that would-be band but they never got that interested.

There are certain things I did and didn’t do that probably have an ADHD ring to them.

  • Did: Practice. A lot. We’re talking whole afternoons for weeks.
  • Didn’t: Practice with any sort of focus that would actually make me better at stuff. (Like, techniques. I never learned top coordinate the full amount of hands I have.)
  • Didn’t: Learn actual licks or even songs. I just can’t seem to memorize lines. Also, repeating old songs bored the crap out of me, especially the popular favorites. I did manage to memorize a few chord progressions as long as I didn’t have to do anything fancy with those chords…
  • Didn’t: Develop a taste or even just a tolerance for what people wanted to hear. I still cringe at campfire music. Even before I started playing, I was always the first in my class to get impatient with a new song just as it got popular and everybody else wanted to hear it, all the time. (In my experience, that’s a good trait in a musician who’s in the position of calling their own shots, but not for one trying to get into that position.)
  • Did: dive deep into musician interviews, guitar magazines and all that. I’m talking whole weeks at the library when I was supposed to do research for non-musical term papers.
  • Did: Pick up some basic knowledge of other instruments - I started out on harmonica, then moved to huitar and bass (mostly bass) but also picked up some keyboard and percussion.
  • Did: get a feel for arranging music.
  • Did: Write songs because, see above re: old songs. Not that many, though, because it used to take ages for me to actually get down and record them. Or finish the lyrics.
  • Did: Record, to the point of getting the idea down.
  • Didn’t: finish most of those recordings.
  • Didn’t: get in a band and stick with it long enough to actually get good at it or play any of those songs. We did cut a few nice jam sessions, though.
  • Didn’t: figure out how to get organized into semi-professional musicianing - you know, get a practice room, gigs, musicians who’d stick around.
  • Didn’t: submit anything, anywhere.

Looking back, I think I needed the variety that writing, recording and playing several instruments brings. Also, doing my own very unique thing as opposed to developing a routine, always working on the next litle project but never on my own skills. I’m still doing that with comics, except now it’s the internet and I know how and where to publish stuff. And I got better at the skill thing by identifying better what it was that I was lacking and seeking that out.

One of the afore-mentioned buddies started playing the guitar by learning basic techniques from a book, practicing hammer-ons for ages before even learning the first chord. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine doing that. (The cautionary tale version of that would have me at a pretty good level soon but staying there while he got better and better, but that never happened. He’s completely tone-deaf.) I never would have got even as far as I got if I hadn’t had the next challenge in mind, the next thing I couldn’t quite do yet, the next thing to apply a skill to which I’d now have to acquire.