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Do you feel like you’ve lost your ‘drum mojo’? You haven’t practiced in a while and can’t seem to get back on the groove train. Why? You don’t know. You just haven’t been feeling motivated, and it’s frustrating.

We all find different factors that spark the fire for us. One way that psychologists analyze motivation is by looking at how internal and external factors drive you to take action. This concept can be broken down into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation: You’re motivated to take action by external rewards. This could be tangible (like money or an award) or intangible (like praise and recognition).

Intrinsic motivation: You’re motivated to take action because it’s personally/inherently rewarding. Even if no one else knows about it, it makes you feel good, and that’s enough reason to do it.

When it comes to drumming, these motivations can help explain why you may or may not be pursuing your goals. Most people aren’t solely driven by one or the other; you may be motivated by both external and internal factors. For example, research suggests that praise can actually help increase intrinsic motivation.

If your goal is to play drums more often, or to become a better drummer, it may not be enough to set the goals: you need to also figure out what motivates you to play and ask yourself why you’ve set these goals. Do you want to become a better drummer because you like to challenge yourself, or are you doing it in hopes of receiving respect or getting bigger gigs? Maybe you love playing, but that isn’t always enough to get you off the couch or away from your phone. Desire alone does not equal motivation.
 

Test yourself: What motivates you to play drums?

There’s nothing wrong with being more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. But getting to know yourself better can help you pinpoint your reasons for drumming, which will make it easier to find out how to get that spark back.

Take a look at the following statements, and keep track of the points as you choose only the statements that apply to you:
 

*This ‘quiz’ is just for fun and doesn’t adhere to scientific testing standards. Each of these statements realistically resonates somewhere on a sliding scale. You aren’t 100% one or the other, and this isn’t an all-or-nothing verdict; intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are just components of complex behavioral theories. Don’t let us tell you what does or doesn’t motivate you!
 

How to get motivated without external factors

Once you’ve thought about your motives, you should be able to alter your behavior or mindset to accomplish your goals. Those who are extrinsically motivated are more likely to find it difficult to practice drums without a ‘reason’. There is evidence that intrinsic motivation is the most effective for musicians, so it might be tougher to pick up the sticks if you aren’t driven to play for the sake of playing.

Even if you love drumming, you might still find yourself in a rut now and then. If you rely on an outside boost to stay motivated, here are a few things you can try:

  • Book a gig or studio session – anything where your playing will impact other people. Give yourself enough time to work towards this goal. An external factor like a public performance can be a powerful motivator.
  • Have an ‘accountability buddy’ – preferably another drummer (or teacher) who can regularly check in with you on your goals and help you stay focused. If it means sharing progress videos on social media, be prepared for both praise and constructive criticism.
  • Compete with yourself. Make a physical calendar and set daily goals. It’s easier to increase intrinsic motivation when you can actually measure your progress, whether it’s playing faster tempos or being able to pull off a certain groove or technique. Sometimes you may not ‘feel’ like things are improving, but you’ll be able to visually see if you’re making progress this way. You may surprise yourself, and that in itself can be enough to keep you going.

If you’re still wondering how to get motivated, watch this video for multiple tricks to get out of a drumming rut:

Whether you’re mostly motivated by external factors or an internal drive, sometimes you just need a bit of inspiration before you can kick things into high gear. Click here for a quick tip on how Jared Falk gets inspired, then get out there and find the catalyst that will work for you!

Samantha Landa

Samantha Landa is a Canadian metal drummer and writer. She currently plays with Dead Asylum and has spent the last few years as a touring session drummer with Nervosa and Introtyl. Sam has been featured by outlets such as Sick Drummer Magazine and DRUM! Magazine, and proudly endorses Mapex Drums, Sabian Cymbals and Los Cabos Drumsticks.

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