So you finally picked out a musical instrument that you are dying to learn how to play. Before you begin to strum that guitar or pound those drums here are some tips that will help you on your musical journey. Remember to let the music flow naturally, take your time to learn something new and most importantly have fun!
Take Some Lessons!
If this is your first ever venture into music learning and you are not sure of how to get that first sound out of your instrument then taking some lessons is an absolute must! Check your neighborhood for reputable music schools or local musicians who offer lessons. Searching the internet will also help you find a music tutor or school in your area. Also, check with your local music store as they are excellent resource to find the right tutor or music school.
Or Teach Yourself!
If you can’t find any tutors in nearby or you simply can’t afford their fees, or simply don’t have time for music school, don’t fret. Many successful musicians in the world are self-taught. There are so many resources available such as books, magazines and even CD’s that will give you some of the best lessons for a really cheap price. I’ve spent many years teaching myself how to play bass this way from countless lesson books and how-to videos. There is also a lot of information on the internet especially on YouTube – there is no shortage of skilled musicians who will show you the in’s and out’s of whatever instrument you are learning.
Get Rid of those Distractions!
Your practice time is yours and yours alone. There should not be any distractions while practicing. Don’t check your Facebook messages or inbox, turn off your smart phone if possible, and turn off that television – you can afford to miss an episode of Judge Judy. When you practice your music, stay entirely focused on improving your musicianship.
Sure this is hard at first and requires self-discipline. A good idea is timing yourself as you practice. Keep practicing until the desired time has run out. Some of the best musicians practice for over eight hours a day but even half an hour to an hour of practice each day can lead to noticeable improvements.
Another thing you can do is have a music corner or room in your home without anything to distract you. Try to isolate yourself from any computers, phones, screaming children, barking dogs, or annoying roommates in your sacred place for practicing your music.
Once you have actively taken steps to minimize distractions, the more you will be able to practice effectively and pretty soon you will see some real results.
And don’t worry if you don’t sound good at all. Everyone wants to sound amazing from the moment they pick up a new instrument, it’s just not going to happen. I didn’t sound anything like my musical heroes when I first started playing saxophone and later on the electric bass. Practicing is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort plus dedication.
Set a Schedule and Stick to it But be Flexible
Yes, I know we all have busy lives. Setting aside some time for you practice is crucial to your overall music development.
Your practice sessions should be regular and timed such that distractions are minimized. Getting cooperation from your partner, spouse or roommate to minimize distractions is especially helpful.
Your practice sessions need not be too long. Thirty minutes is sufficient. If 30 minutes is too long, you can break it down into free periods in your day in which you can practice from 10 to 15 minutes. And it’s a good idea to take breaks in between practice sessions otherwise you will just tax your brain too much and your music will suffer.
Although you should schedule regular practice, try to be flexible as well. There are time you might have more important things to do than practicing music. Medical appointments, your child’s soccer game, or dinner with your boss. You should be flexible enough to have a contingency plan if you have to miss your practice session. Keep alternative arrangements in mind. You can practice some other time that is more convenient, or have a longer session the next time to make up for lost time.
As you plan your practice schedule, have some kind of plan or set up some goals of what you want to achieve in each session. To master any piece of music, you need a specific plan with measurable outcomes. For example If you’re intending to master a lengthy solo, it helps to break it down into smaller bits.
Have Patience and be Realistic
If you aspire to play like any of your musical heroes that’s great. You’re not going to play like Eric Clapton overnight. It’s just not going to happen. It takes years of practice and many setbacks and heartaches to even come close to playing like your favorite musicians. If you keep to your practice schedule you will become more and more competent and before you know it you’ll be able play with some serious skill.
Learn Music Theory
Any budding musician who is serious about getting good at playing any instrument should learn all the music theory, scales and fundamentals behind it as well. Sure it might seem a bit boring and even a little intimidating at first but it will give you a solid foundation to stand on make you a better player in the long run. You should also try learning how to read music as well so that you can better communicate with your fellow musicians and so you can write down your own ideas. It’s not as hard as it seems. With a little effort you should be able to read musical notes fairly quickly.
It’s important that you have a good support system. Your friends or family members can offer you encouragement, feedback and can give you that extra push when you feel discouraged or get stuck in a rut. Sure you can push yourself as hard as you can but even the most motivated among us can hit a brick wall now and then. A good support system will help nudge you in the right direction and even help you get out of your comfort zone.
Most Important – Have Fun!
Remember why you decided to learn your instrument – because it gave you nothing but pure joy and excitement. If you are getting stressed out even getting a little frustrated with your instrument, take a short break from it, relax, do something else to ease your mind. Just forget about music for a while. Once you have cleared you head and feel energized, you can now go back to practicing more refreshed.
These are just a few of the tips that I used when first started my own musical journey and if there is one thing I learned is that you never stop learning. Music is a lifelong process and you never what it will bring you each day.
Rock on \m/