We can all be better musicians. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been musically active for a couple of months or multiple decades when it comes to finding areas that need improvement in our musical lives. Making real progress towards big goals like learning how to play an instrument or starting work on a new album can be challenging if you’re musically inexperienced or find yourself years into your music career and losing steam. Doing any one of these four things will help you become a better musician right now and get you closer to hitting your targets in the future:
Set a weekly music-making schedule
Let’s start with a common sense tip that many musicians don’t think about doing. If you consider yourself a serious musician, you can’t take a “work when you feel like it” approach. The hard work that goes into being in a professional band or simply learning how to play an instrument for the first time has to happen week in week out for years. Right now, chart out your week and schedule time to work on specific musical tasks like band rehearsal, practicing your instrument, or writing songs. This schedule should give you enough time to work on music and accommodate the non-musical things happening in your life. Doing this will put you on a path towards becoming a more confident and well-rounded musician over the long-term.
Take online music lessons
Musicians of every age, interest, and experience level can benefit from taking online music lessons. Whether you’re a complete beginner developing your skills or a seasoned touring pro, working with an instructor can challenge your musicianship and get you thinking in a different mindset. Taking lessons online gives musicians the chance to enhance their skills virtually anywhere at any time. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. To get the most out of music lessons, plan ahead by defining exactly what you want to learn and what your goals are. Pursuing online music instruction today can help you become a better musician in the future. However, you won’t make any headway without practicing regularly and challenging yourself on your own time.
Start learning music theory
This is something you can start doing this very moment to vastly improve your musicianship and musical understanding. Music theory isn’t just for orchestra players and highbrow composers. It’s an essential tool that musicians of every interest and skill level can and should use to their advantage. By understanding music theory, you’ll get a precise view of exactly how things like keys, intervals, chords, scales, melodies, and rhythms work. Yes, it takes some work to master music theory, but probably not as much as you might think. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to use it to write music, perform with other musicians, and understand what’s going on with the music you listen to.
Create goals by week, month, and year
Goals, goals, goals. It’s something we talk a lot about on this blog, and for good reason. If you have a desire to become “a better musician,” you need to dig deeper to ask why and how. Do you want to perform live? Earn a living with your music? Get good enough on your instrument to join a band? Each of these goals is completely different. These goals need to be broken down into even smaller targets in order to be worked towards. By creating super specific musical goals by week, month, and year, you’re building a detailed plan to follow. This exercise will give your music practice structure, direction, and purpose.
The actions you take today to become a better musician won’t be instant. Yet, they will push you in the direction you need to go. We all know that work needs to happen to improve musically. However, a theme that runs through these tips is taking steps to get better in small, consistent, and specific ways. Doing things like practicing every day at a specific time and mastering one music theory concept every month might sound boring, but they’ll end up making monumental impacts on your life as a musician over time.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.