This is not your usual type of how to or top tips article. These tips can be applied to any and all musical instruments. They are not about theory or technique or practice schedules. These tips are about how to stay inspired: the key to success in any endeavor. They apply to piano, guitar, bass guitar, cello, violin, viola, saxophone, voice or any imaginable instrument.
From the minute you decide you are going to learn to play an instrument, you will be showered with advice from anyone who has ever played an instrument. The amount of data available from books, magazines and online lesson sites is overwhelming. The Internet is teeming with video of people trying to show you how to play this or that instrument. You may begin to think there are so many people out there with so much talent, why even bother?
The key to success on any musical instrument is not to practice: practice is the result of using the key. Kindle your interest in music like a flame and never allow it to go out. If you are having fun you will have no trouble finding time to play.
1. Listen to Success
Your favorite artists have succeeded in their chosen art. The spirit in their music inspired you. Keep listening to them. Listen with headphones on and let the music speak.
2. Visualize Success
Listen to these favorite songs and imagine yourself playing them. Most musicians enter this phase and never leave it; because the more you learn, the easier it becomes to visualize yourself performing. You will learn to practice in your mind, without even having your instrument in your hands.
3. Notice the Details
Pick out the sound of a specific instrument when listening. Think about what is going on. Is there more than one instrument playing the melody? Is the artist playing fast or slow? Is the melody rising or falling? As a painter is moved by a landscape before deciding to paint it, let yourself soak in the details. Listen to the song over and over if you want to.
4. Find an Inspiring Place to Play
If you have a comfortable room available, you will play more often and for longer periods. Do what you need in order to make it your personal space. Put favorite artwork or items up on the walls and shelves. Use lighting to set the desired mood.
5. Keep Your Instrument Close at Hand
Keep your instrument on a stand or in its case in your chosen rehearsal room. Many beginning students will pack the instrument away after they come home from a lesson, or pack it up and put it under the bed or in the closet. Many times the site of the instrument can be inspiring. There will be times that you will walk into the room, see your instrument sitting there in the sunlight streaming in from the window, pick it up to admire it, and you may “accidentally” begin to play. You will find it is really pretty easy to “accidentally” play for two or three or even four hours. Oops.
6. Don’t Practice, Play
When you think or talk about your instrument, get in the habit of using the word “play” instead of “practice”. The connotations in the two words are very different. You want to keep enjoyment a top priority.
7. Embrace the Learning Process
As you play, realize that you are getting better with each and every mistake you make. The best players in the world are the ones who have made the most mistakes. They just took the next step and corrected them.
8. Play for 10 Seconds
If you don’t feel like playing, but are thinking you should – just say to yourself that you will pick up the instrument and play one or two notes. You will find they are addictive, like potato chips, you will naturally want to keep going. Keep going. Unlike potato chips, you won’t feel guilty for indulging.
9. Be Your Own Teacher
Whether or not you are taking formal lessons, you are always your best teacher. You know when and where you are having difficulty. When you find a certain thing to be harder than expected, stay focused on it and make up a little exercise which uses that technique or series of notes. This is a chance to overcome a hurdle. It is the reason you play. It is a chance to improve.
10. Be Patient
The only way to fail is to quit trying. There is no hurry. Besides, a meteor might hit the earth tomorrow and it won’t matter if you finished the song you’re working on or not. You have all the time in the world.
11. Learn One Thing Well
Take a favorite song, the simpler the better, and master it. Make it your signature song. Even if it is only a part of song, give it a beginning, middle, and end. Make it yours. It will feel great. Write it in your notebook as “done.” Then start another thing.
12. Put Away the Method Books and Just Play
A deluge of information about chords, scales, theory and technique is exactly what you do not need in the very early stages. Try closing all the books and just play your instrument. Start with one note and play it with all the feeling you can muster, whatever the mood. Play a second note, then a third. Play slowly. Don’t worry what notes are, or what key you are in, just listen to the natural beauty of those one or two notes. Let them fill the room and enter your imagination.
That is what inspired you the first place.