Whether you’re actively studying music or just considering learning an instrument, these seven tips will help maximize your ability to learn your instrument efficiently and help you understand the best mindset for approaching your musical endeavor!
Enjoy The Journey
Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking that you need to be a pro by next week! Set small, achievable goals. Remember to take it one step at a time and focus on the task at hand. Learning a musical instrument is a lifelong endeavor. It’s not a race, and there is no finish line. So enjoy the journey, because that’s all there is!
2. Think Progress Not Practice
Let’s get one thing clear, you should look forward to practicing. It’s a time for you to step away from the world and focus on developing a fun and creative skill. It’s a time for progression and improvement. It’s a time to get to know your instrument. If practice feels like work or like a chore, then consider an alternative. Maybe there is a different instrument, teacher, approach, style etc. that would get you more excited to practice and to make progress.
Short daily practice sessions are much more productive than the occasional marathon practice session. Instead of practicing for two hours once a week, try twenty minutes every day. You’ll approach each session with a fresh mind and you’ll develop muscle memory on your instrument much more quickly. You can keep a daily practice log of what you worked on in each session and how long you practiced to help keep track of your progress.
Make Time For Critical Listening
Listening is practice too! Find time to sit and listen to the pros on your instrument. It’s so important to understand the real life application of what it is you’re learning to do. Pay attention to what they play, and when they play it. Take note of how their part fits into the bigger picture. Try to identify melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas in their playing. This will help spark new ideas you may want to explore, and bring the topics you’re already learning full circle.
Foster Your Curiosity
While it’s important to follow a well-structured path when learning an instrument, it’s equally as important to spend time wandering off that path too. Be curious, and explore and experiment. Don’t be afraid to get lost for a moment. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll find yourself coming up with great questions to ask when things go wrong. And you’ll also stumble upon new ideas that you may have missed out on otherwise.
Isolate The Tricky Parts
In any given piece of music there is bound to be a part, or parts, that are trickier than the rest. Always take time to extract those sections and focus on them independently. Slow tempos are your best friend in these situations. Loop the section and give yourself a chance to play the idea as many times as you need to until it’s up to par with the rest of the music. Don’t stress about playing the piece in its entirety right away, and take pride in the small accomplishments as you work through it.
Embrace The Challenge
Learning to play a musical instrument is hard, really hard. You will get frustrated from time to time! But don’t let that ruin the experience for you. Sometimes it’s helpful to put down your instrument for a bit, do something else and come back to it, especially at the end of a long practice session. A fresh mind and approach will go a long way!