What to do when you feel stuck?

Hello everyone, my name’s Nathan and I’m a new member of your community.

I’ve been learning consistently about music production and composing since around the end of November of last year (2018), and have played guitar on and off since 2013. Since last year I’ve learned a lot about music production, composition and theory, but currently I find myself feeling stuck when trying to finish tracks, feeling like there’s more I should learn but not knowing what. Basically, I’m a bit frustrated about this and am not sure where to take things next. For your information, I mostly focus on pop, hip hop and EDM genres and will experiment mixing genres (including rock using my guitar) later.

Right now I’m doing ear training so I can recognize notes by ear, learning to recognize intervals, and want to learn piano, and am also learning more about music theory, of which I know a lot of the basics already. But again, I’m not sure where to take things next. I would really like to streamline my process of making tracks, and I’ve already finished the production stage of tracks before (still need to start learning mixing) but I want to get better, more towards the level of my favourite artists, and I’m just not sure where to go next, knowing that there are many more things I could learn, from large things to little things and everything in between.

How can I determine what to do next and how do I get out of this kind of frustration? It’s a feeling of not being where I want to be yet, often liking things I come up with but still feeling “not good enough” and wanting to push things to the next level without really knowing exactly what to tackle next. I have been experimenting a lot.

I was thinking of focusing on learning piano, note recognition and interval recognition to transcribe songs from my head into reality better first, while working on producing new things as well and slowly incorporating those things into what I’m doing. Any advice and personal experiences are welcome, I really want to keep leveling up and get closer to having an easier time making the kind of tracks I want to make.


Hello Nathan, and welcome to the community! :slight_smile:
This is such a great question, and something we all are familiar with. The feeling of lack of progress, in one or several areas that impact our overall skills and craft as composers.

I would say that just being humble and open to always keep learning is a big factor, which you already show you have by posting this.

Next, realising that the field of music composition and production is very big, and then make a list of things that matter the most for your craft. I would recommend making a simple bullet list, and then grade yourself in each area, trying to be fair when you do so. Areas like: Piano/Keyboard performance and recording skills, music theory, chords/harmony, composition/arranging, production/mixing, sound design, mastering etc.

For me, learning music theory while also improving my keyboard skills has been the single most beneficial thing that improved my overall skills as a composer. It might be different for your though.

Whatever fields you want to improve in, make sure to practice them often, daily if you can. And the most important thing is just keep making tracks, and finish them even if you think they suck! You learn so much more from complete productions.

Playing covers on your piano, and producing covers and remixes in your DAW is also an amazing way to improve your perspective of music and how it all works in context.


Hi @Nathan,

as @Mikael said, the job as a composer in todays world is so much more, than it was decades ago. Because of all the technology we need to think about much more processes, which as you described can be overwhelming, which leads to disorientation on the most important things, your music!

First, you need to understand, that your productions will suck in the beginning. Everybody’s did. The field of mixing alone took me years of studies, money and putting a lot of work to get to a specific level, to a level where I feel comfortable. Not to mention the composition/music-side, instrument skills etc. I mean even John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL are learning something new everyday, even though we think, they are Gods for us.

Second, you need to focus on only two things, like composition & mixing, but even this is not enough. You need to split these topics into a lot of small things like:

COMPOSITION: This first week I want to learn, how to structure my track/song. Here you need to be specific for the genre as well. So you find 3 of best loved tracks from top-artist, important them into your DAW and start to analyse the structure. After you did that, you start to write down, which instruments, which sounds are playing when, everything what you hear basically. Then you try to play along these tracks, so you need to figure out the melodies and the chords/harmony. When you did all of that, you now have a good foundation to start copying this information to your own production. The same goes to other genres as well. You will realise fast, that this will take more than a week. So you need to stay patient. If not, you will never reach the level, you want to reach, as fast, as you would like to.

MIXING: Learn the basics first. What is a mix, how to balance the instruments and sounds right, how to use an EQ, a compressor and WHY you need them. You need to understand the nature of them. If I see young producers, which made a HIT, and show you the session, where they say: “Here is this amazing compressor, which is cool etc…”. For me personally, this is total crap, because first, most of them just don’t know what a compressor is and second why they have decided to use it. In most cases, they saw another producer, which did the same. But the most important thing is here, YOU need to know WHY. And not just copy paste a setting or whatever. Learn the basic tools. Learn them well. Check out the channels like: Pensado’s Place, Mixwiththemasters, DavidGlennRecording, MixBusTV, only to name a few. There are really good channels out there, but there are more channels which are the wrong once to go with as well. (By the way, I started my own blog on music & audio production, which you can join. The idea was to help people like you in first place. It’s in the beginning right now, but I add more and more articles soon.)

A good start would be to brain-storm all you want to learn and understand, and then trying to split this into learning-sessions. As we said before: The field is today extremely wide, and if you start wrong, you will lose yourself quiet fast and learn maybe not the most important things first.

Best regards,
Alexey (JLX)


Thank you very much, guys! I appreciate it, will keep all these things in mind.
I’m going to see what I can do, I feel like I need to build some kind of routine to stay in it as it’s easy to get disoriented and just end up not doing something as fast as you actually could. So will work on that as well.

Is there a place where you can share unfinished tracks for feedback on here?

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There is a special thread for it, but in order to get a feedback, you need to give feedback first, that’s what the intention was I guess. What do you say @Mikael? :slight_smile:

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Yes, every member can post their compositions here (normally finished, but I guess unfinished can work too): https://forum.professionalcomposers.com/c/introduction/music

Just follow the guidelines and it’s all good! :slight_smile:

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