Tip #1: Play everyday. Notice we didn’t say “practice”. Have fun, jam on the tunes you know and, unless you two are headed out the door together, keep your instrument out of the case, ready to play.
Tip #2: Practice the parts you find challenging (over and over again). Maybe you’re working on scales, double stops or a tricky B part. Isolate the sections that you need to work on from the parts you are comfortable playing to help you practice more efficiently.
Tip #3: Listen to music. Just as writers need to read, musicians need to listen. Start an online radio station to explore genres and artists, ask your friends what they like, check out the selection at your local library or download an album you’ve only heard about.
Tip #4: Record your lessons. You are not very likely to remember every little thing from a lesson or workshop. But if you have a full audio recording you can benefit from one session for years. Use an old school tape recorder, an app on your phone or a newfangled digital recorder. In other words: Whatever works for you will work just fine.
Tip #5: Take notes. In addition to everything you get from a lesson you’re going to think of questions or want to highlight particular points. Whether you’re at home or in the classroom, have a place where you can keep your songs and ideas together. Some folks prefer notebooks or folders while others use their smart phone or tablet. Whatever is easy for you to use and travel with is what will work best in the long run.
Tip #6: Keep your tools in your case, ready to go. Have your tuner, nail clippers, and whatever you consider essential on hand. Consider this: if your ever present audio recorder is in your case you might record a tune at a jam, share it with your teacher, and then a friend, before playing it over and over to eventually figure it out for yourself. That’s a lot of progress from one little recording.
Tip #7: Push yourself. Play with better musicians who will challenge you. Join a weekly jam. Work on the licks you’ve heard in your head and created yourself. Find a musician who is happy to help you answer your most puzzling questions. And remember, no matter how good you are there’s always someone better so, while you’re pushing yourself hard, remember to go easy on yourself, too.
Tip #8: Find a good teacher. Good teachers keep us motivated and challenged. Of course you want to work with someone you enjoy, respect and connect with as well.
Tip #9: Go slow. We all want to play our favorite songs fast, or at least up to tempo. Still, in order to master a piece it must be played slowly at first. When we slow down we learn how to play the right way. Then we can speed up. Eventually.
Tip #10: Learn the right way first. After that you can develop your own, personal style. Maybe you’ll approach a chord differently or hold your fiddle low in the crook of your arm. That’s all well and good, just do it once you’ve mastered the right way.
We hope this article provided you with more than a few great tips, no matter where you are in your musical journey. Let us know if you have any questions or comments by clicking here.
Thanks for supporting The Front Room,
Mitch & Jen