music performance tips
Posts

  • How Learning Languages Has Made Me a Better Musician

    I began studying languages around the same time I began to study music, and they are similar in as many ways as they are different.

    The one way I’ve found that doing both has benefitted me the most, however, is in that I can take the study skills and habits I develop for one and apply it to the other.

    There are four aspects of language learning: reading, writing, comprehension, and speaking. Depending on your goals with a language, your ability in each of the above four may vary. Perhaps your goal is to converse with family – in that case your comprehension and speaking will be at a higher level. Or maybe your goal is to read books or comics in their original language. In that case, your reading will be your strongest skill.

    In a lot of ways, each of those four aspects exists within music as well.

    We need to learn to listen. Listening allows us to perform and interact with other musicians. It also allows us to learn new things from what we hear around us.

    We need to learn to speak. We need to find our voices on our instruments. We need to play a melody in a way that it becomes our own. We need to take the music vocabulary we’ve picked up and apply it to new contexts much like a language learner needs to take the words they’ve learned and construct them into sentences that reflect what they want to say.

    We need to learn to read. To truly be successful as a musician, it helps to know how to read music. Or at the very least, chord charts.

    We need to learn to write. Even if you don’t write your own music, there may come a time when you need write your own charts or arrangements. Having the ability to write music is another tool in your toolbox and will help you build a successful career.

    But one can go beyond drawing comparisons between the skills required to be efficient in both music and language. In fact, you can directly apply the study habits and skills you learn with one to the other.

    Here are just a few ways studying language has made me a better music learner:

    1. There are two ways to listen.

    You can listen passively – the music plays in the background, but you aren’t paying much attention to it. This type of listening is purely for enjoyment, maybe immersion, but it isn’t doing a lot for your ability as a musician. If you really want to make the most of the time you spend listening to music, you need to listen actively.

    You need to sit down in front of your speakers, or tuck yourself into your chair with your headphones on and give the music 100% of your attention.

    2. Watch movies with subtitles.

    In this case, play along to records with transcriptions. When the material is too far above your level, it’s okay to cheat a bit and use a transcription as a guide to help you get where you want to be. Don’t rely on your “subtitles” or “transcriptions” for too long though, or you’ll find that you grow dependent upon them and stop using your ears.

    3. A little bit everyday makes a big difference.

    It’s better to study for a short period of time every day consistently than it is to practice for several hours one day and then not practice for the next few days afterwards. The consistent practice does a lot more for your endurance and ability as a player than binging and purging your practice do.

    4. It’s always better with others.

    Just like learning a language on your own has its limits, practicing your instrument alone in your room can also prevent you from reaching your full potential as a musician. It’s no fun to have a conversation with yourself when you’re learning a language. It’s also no fun to spend all your time working on music alone. It’s sometimes best to get out and perform with other musicians, getting experience on stage, interacting with other performers, and enjoying their companionship. It’s a win-win. You get to practice your instrument and make friends.

    5. Writing things down can help you internalize them.

    Taking a moment to write down the things you’re working on can help you better internalize the information. Just like teaching helps us understand what we’re doing better by the very nature of having to explain it, writing the information you’ve learned down helps you maintain it. You may take this as far as actually writing down the solo you transcribe, or it may be something as simple as just taking notes about what you’ve spent your practice session on so that you know where to pick things up the next time you sit down to work on your instrument. Try writing things down and keeping a practice journal!

    So there you have it. What about you? What things do you study outside of music that have helped you become a better musician either directly or indirectly? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

    June 17, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 834

  • 5 Practice Materials That I Actually Use

    A while back I challenged myself to use Project365 to practice for an hour every day for an entire year. Although that’s really technically what we’re already supposed to be doing as musicians, there are times that we take a day or two off from practice.

    And as long as that day or two off from practice don’t turn into a week or two, that’s okay.

    Sometimes it’s because we’re doing other music related things like writing or dealing with the business aspects of music. Sometimes it’s because we’re feeling a bit under the weather or because we’re feeling unmotivated.

    Regardless of what the reason might be, it’s natural to want to take some time off.

    Those breaks also help us to digest some of the material we’ve been working on during our practice sessions, renew our energy, and find our motivation to pick up our horns after a short time off.

    The breaks also help us step back and take a look at our playing to see where there’s room for improvement so that we can decrease our chances of hitting a plateau.

    But there are other ways to avoid plateaus in our playing. I personally feel that one of those ways is by practicing things that inspire, motivate, and push us beyond our comfort zones.

    Practicing my instrument – not just playing – but actually working at things that I could improve every single day for an entire year could get pretty trying. Finding the right resources to keep me going day after day wasn’t easy. But once I found them, I stuck with them.

    Why?

    Because they worked.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    And since those tools worked for me, I still use them today and that is why I want to share them with you.

    Etude books

    There’s nothing like a good ole warmup with a couple of etudes. Whether it was sight-reading a couple of classical etudes for oboe, or shredding through a jazz etude based on the whole-tone scale, etudes were my constant companion.

    I tried to keep a nice mix of various etudes on hand so that I wouldn’t get bored working through any one style and so I wouldn’t grow too familiar with the etudes I used for sight-reading.

    Here are a few of the etude books I’ve used:
    + Greg Fishman
    + Randy Hunter
    + Ferling

    Play-alongs and Karaoke tracks

    It’s one thing to play along with an original recording. It’s another to need to play the melody convincingly with your own flare. It’s also another for you to be on your own for a solo on five choruses straight. I liked to record myself playing with play-alongs every so often to see how I felt about my “performance”. It was a really great way to measure my growth and where I had room to improve.

    Transcription books

    When I wanted to read something a little more challenging, I moved to transcription books. I used the Charlie Parker Omnibook primarily, but I had a few others as well. These are really great for picking up more advanced lines and studying harmony.

    Lots and lots of recorded music

    Relying on transcription books to study great players isn’t enough. You also need to use your eyes and try your hand at transcribing solos from recordings yourself. You may not catch everything, but it’s really great practice for when you’re out in the real world, interacting with other musicians on stage. It’s also great for internalizing new material.

    Lessons

    Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve graduated, I still like to check in with a teacher or a peer every so often to get honest, unbiased feedback on my playing. It’s also really great for when you need a bit of direction.

    In Conclusion

    That year that I spent practicing every day was the year that I made the most improvement in my entire career as a musician and it wasn’t because I practiced everyday. It was because I was actively paying attention to my playing and looking for ways to improve the areas where I struggled.

    I still practice nearly everyday but even with a few days off here and there I am making just as much progress now with my playing as I did during my Project365 because I am more mindful when I practice and whenever I’m unable to find the answers I need on my own, I do not hesitate to schedule time with a teacher to get them.

    So there you have it. The five things that I use regularly to practice. What are some of the practice tools that you like to use the most? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

    June 15, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 767

  • Most Popular Music Advice Articles | 6 Month Update

    Today I’d like to share the most popular music advice articles and music business tips on Teen Jazz the past six months.

    We work hard to bring you the most relevant music advice and reviews and here are the ten articles that you liked best so far.

    1. 10 Popular Music Business Books // We try to read and review some of the most popular music business books to help you decide which you’d like to add to your reading list.
    2. 33 Content Marketing Ideas for Musicians // Content marketing is a really great way to work on your artist branding and to keep the content on your music website fresh.
    3. 10 Simple Tips to Get Motivated for Musicians // Looking for some motivation? Here is a roundup of tips to help you get started.
    4. College Audition Preparation for Saxophonists // Preparing for your college music auditions can be stressful, so we asked one of the saxophone instructors at Cal State Long Beach to help ease the process for you by writing a detailed post on the process.
    5. Three Little Words – “What’s Your Fee?” // Teen Jazz Artist Adam Larson wrote this incredible post for us on what to charge for a gig. What’s your fee?
    6. Learn Jazz Lingo and Slang // Want to learn a fun bit of jazz history? Try picking up some of these words and phrases!
    7. A Beginner’s Guide to Playing “Outside” // Ready to take your improvisation to the next level by learning how to play outside the changes? Teen Jazz Artist Sean Winter wrote us this detailed post to help you learn how to play outside.
    8. Saxophone Playing Tips and Practice Suggestions // A broad collection of tips for saxophone players on everything from articulation to breathing.
    9. What Songs Should I Learn for Jam Sessions? // We worked with several contributors to create this pretty thorough list of songs to learn for jam sessions.
    10. A List of Summer Jazz Camps // Your favorite post was our list of summer jazz camps! Totally understandable since summer jazz camps are awesome. They’re a great learning experience for musicians of all ages!

    This check-in was a huge change from some of our previous roundups. In the past, our interviews with artists like Mindi Abair and Greg Adams were the most popular.

    Either way, thank you all for your support and for reading our posts!

    Best of luck in all of your musical endeavours!

    PS. If you’d like to see an article that you’ve written in this list at the end of this year, find out how to become a contributor here.

    June 8, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 921

  • 7 Ways to Get the Most From Your Music Lessons

    Music lessons are completely different than anything you’ll get out of class at school. For one, the lessons (unless you take group lessons) are entirely focused on you, the learner. They are tailored to your specific level, you specific goals, and your specific struggles. Teachers in a classroom environment, unfortunately, just are not able to give their students that kind of attention.

    Keep in mind, however, that lessons aren’t a way to cheat your way through learning music. You still need to work hard.

    A teacher can only give you the tools you need to improve; it’s up to you to open up your toolbox and use them.

    1. Prepare // Preparing for your lessons in advance will make them infinitely more productive. If you’re getting ready for your first lesson, bring something to perform for your teacher so that they can an idea of where you’re at with your playing. If you’ve already started studying, make sure you work on the things your teacher gives you so that you return to your next lesson prepared.

    2. Do your homework // Like I mentioned above, it’s important to complete the tasks your teacher assigns you to the best of your ability. This may mean that you get through everything successfully or that you don’t quite get through everything. As long as you make your best effort, you’re doing a good job. This also helps your teacher gave how much to give you to work on between lessons – they may realize that they’re giving you too much or that they aren’t challenging you enough between lessons.

    3. When you’re at your lesson, dedicate all attention to your teacher // Turn off your phone. Stop thinking about the other things you have to do. For the thirty minutes or the hour that you’re with your teacher – be there with your teacher! If you need to take notes, write them AFTER your lesson while they’re fresh in your head. Don’t waste precious lesson time with meticulous notes. If you’re worried you won’t remember, jot down something that will help you later on, but do it quickly.

    4. Make note of any questions you have while you’re practicing/studying // If you have any questions that come up while you’re practicing between lessons, make a note of them so that you can ask your teacher during your next lesson. For me personally, I take note of anything I am unable to do on my own – whether that is certain techniques, fingerings, or a concept that I do not understand – I make note to ask my teacher about it during my next lesson.

    5. Record your lessons // This will eliminate your need to take notes during the lesson (see above) and will also give you something to reference while you’re studying on your own. Make sure you review the recording.

    6. Practice your new material in context // Did you work through a new transcription or learn a new line to play over a ii-V-I progression? Practice it in context. This can be along with an Aebersold, as part of a performance, or even during a rehearsal with your jazz combo at school. Make sure you’re taking the information you’re learning and giving it a context so that it’s something that you can really utilize in your playing.

    7. Share what you’ve learned // One of the greatest ways to truly make something you’ve learned your own is by teaching it to someone else. Being able to explain something you’re doing helps you further engrain that information.

    Where can you find a teacher?

    You can find a music teacher by asking your band director at school or through a website like Wyzant. Local music stores often offer lessons, too, so try checking there if you aren’t comfortable studying with someone you met online.

    June 1, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 837

  • How Long Do I Need to Practice My Instrument?

    One of the things that I’m often asked is, “How long do I need to practice my instrument?” Or, by parents, “How long should my child be practicing their instrument?”

    The answer may seem like it should be straight-forward, but it often isn’t.

    Consider the following:

    How long and how often you practice your instrument depends on your goals. If you’re just starting out, you may not yet know exactly what your plans are for music.

    Is this something you want to do professionally? Is music a career you want to pursue? If you’re still in middle school or elementary school, this may not be a decision you’re ready to make. If you’re in high school, it’s a question you likely think about, but even then, you still may be unsure.

    So how long do you practice?

    If you’re unsure about how music will play a role in your future, I suggest practicing with the assumption that a career in music is a possibility. Don’t shortchange yourself early on because you’re uncertain about whether or not you’ll continue to pursue music five years, ten years, or even twenty years from now.

    Of course, it’s also important to keep a good balance in mind. Don’t burn yourself out early on by practicing to much. If you go at it aggressively too early on, you may find that you no longer enjoy doing it.

    So how much practice is too much? How much is too little? Where do you draw the line?

    Things to consider when deciding how long to practice:

    1) Practicing the wrong things, no matter how much time you spend, won’t benefit you. To quote James Clear in an article he wrote for Business Insider, “Putting in a lot of time might make you tired, but simply working a lot (even if it’s 10,000 hours over the course of your career) isn’t enough to make you a top performer. It’s not the same thing as practicing deliberately.”

    2) Practicing several times a day in short intervals can be more productive than practicing for a long block of time. It also gives you the time you need to digest the material you were working on and the energy to practice longer (five 15 minute sessions give you 15 minutes more time than one 1 hour session).

    3) Keeping a practice journal with notes about aspects of your playing you want to work on can be a huge benefit to the time you spend practicing. It gives you direction. It also gives you something to look back on six months or a year from now to see where you were. Sometimes it’s hard to see how much progress we’ve made. Looking back at the things you couldn’t do a few months back (that you can do now) can be a huge motivation. It confirms that all the time you spend practicing isn’t for nothing.

    4) It’s okay to take a break. But don’t let a day or two away from practice turn into weeks. The longer you wait to resume your practice, the harder it will be to turn it into a habit again.

    5) Practicing other aspects of your musicianship can help improve your ability on your instrument. Studying theory or composition or ear training can help boost your skill on your instrument. Time spent doing other musical tasks can count towards your practice time. But don’t let these activities dominate your practice time! If you want to improve your abilities on your instrument, the most important time is spent with that instrument.

    6) Mindless practice is a waste of time. Repetition without focus on why you’re repeating a passage or exercise is a waste of time. Playing without making an effort to push yourself is a waste of time. Create goals for your practice sessions. “Today I want to work on ______ because I need to _______.” Give yourself a reason, a deadline, and a specific time to work on it. Figure out what problems you’re having and arrange your practice so that it solves your playing problems. If you’re not sure where you’re struggling, or if you need some direction, take a lesson or two. A good teacher will be able to point out the areas of your playing that need some work.

    7) Practice when you have the energy for it. Are you a morning person? Schedule the bulk of your practice time for the morning. Are you a night owl? Practice at night. Pay attention to the times of day when you are the most productive and slot your practice into that time.

    8) Apply the two minute rule. If you really don’t feel like practicing, or you feel you’re short on time, just commit to practicing for two minutes. Maybe you do a few longtones or run through your scales. Or maybe you sit down with a passage you’ve been struggling with and play it slowly once or twice. You’ll find that two minutes quickly turns into ten minutes which quickly turns into thirty minutes without you even realizing it. The hardest thing about practice is sometimes just starting. So just commit to a short time. Or if you need some more tips on how to practice even you don’t want to, you can read this.

    A Few Apps to Help You Keep Track of Your Practice

    1) Ask Me Every // This is the application I use to keep track of how long I practice. It motivates me to avoid breaking my “streak” and it averages out the total time I practice per day. I love looking at the month view and seeing all the lovely blue numbers that illustrate how many days I’ve spent time practicing.

    2) Coach.me // This app is a community based tool for tracking your goals and getting encouragement.

    3) The Teen Jazz Practice Journal // We’ve designed a free, printable PDF to help you keep track of your practice goals. Get it here.

    4) A Notebook // If you’re looking for something simple, a plain notebook will do. I keep a composition notebook with notes about what I’ve practiced, things I’ve noticed in my playing that can use some attention, and songs I’d like to practice (or that I need to learn).

    Conclusion

    So just how long should you practice?

    Let’s take a look at what a few music educators have to say on the matter:

    I tell my beginners that 20 minutes a day and my college students are required (but rarely do) to practice at least 14 hours a week. As for me, I aim for about 4-6 hours a day. – Monica Schriver, http://www.monicashriver.com

    Beginner – 15-20 minutes daily
    Intermediate – 30-45 minutes
    Advanced/HS/College bound – 1 hour minimum 3 hour max
    Shorter daily practice is better than longer with skip days. For advanced players it’s better to get in a 15 minute warm up than skipping a day. But they will need a couple sessions longer than an hour a week to progress to the highest levels. – James Barrera

    Definitely what James said. Most of my middle school students do 20-30 minutes and my HS students do 60 minutes plus. 30 minute lessons = 30 minutes of daily practice, 45 minute lessons = 45 minutes of daily practice, 60 minute lessons = 60 minutes of daily practice. Most students can do 5-6 days a week. Just like James said, 15 minutes a day is better than skipping a day. – Janelle Barrera

    I take a different approach. One that is not based on time but with a focus on goals. I give them material and tell them to set daily goals or I set daily goals for them to make progress within the material. As long as the goals are met, they are fine. If they reach the goals sooner than later, I have them reinforce the material on the remaining days, or I provide them with new goals. Its much more motivational for them when they see themselves reaching goals and progressing. Sometimes goals take 20 minutes to reach, somtimes and hour or more. Length of time for practice is secondary and in the scheme of things means nothing and works negatively on the pshcye IMHO. I find that students believing they need to practice for a specific amount of time actually only “practice” for a small fraction of it because they confuse “playing” (noodling on material they already know) with “practicing” (working on new skill sets) . 10 minutes of practicing and 20 minutes of playing isn’t going to get it done. However, if they have goals, its different and they actually end up spending more time on the instrument trying to reach a goal than they would when they have a pre determined amount of time given to them to practice. As soon as time is up, they tend to put the instrument down with the feeling that they did their due diligence. The goal oriented approach seems to work very well for me and my students. I have been doing it for years now and the results are pretty great! – Fran Merante, http://www.cidrumming.com

    So how long should you practice?

    My answer, as long as you can, as productively as you can. Practice every chance you get, but only if you’re getting something out of that time. If you aren’t using your time productively, you’re wasting it. You’re better off doing something else.

    But if you really want numbers, let’s put together an average based on the responses above:

    • Beginning Level (1 to 2 years of playing) 15-20 minutes a day
    • Intermediate Level (3 to 5 years of playing) 45-60 minutes a day
    • Advanced Level (6+ years of playing) 1-4 hours a day

    For further reading, check out this post from Business Insider: The Most Successful People Practice Better, Not More

    So what about you? How long do you practice? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

    May 26, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 2355

  • Check Out: Jazz Advice

    It’s been quite some time since we’ve shared an online jazz resource that we dig and so we’ve decided to change that and share JazzAdvice.com with you. We hope to return to doing a monthly feature and are thrilled to begin with such a wonderful site.

    Jazz Advice is run by saxophonist Forrest Wernick and trumpet player Eric O’Donnell. Both have Master’s degrees from William Paterson University, and are currently active performers.

    The site is an excellent place to find improvisation tips, practice advice and more.

    A few places to start:

    We hope you enjoy checking out Jazz Advice.

    If you have a favorite online resource for jazz or music advice, we’d love to know about it! Please feel free to share a link in the comments below.

    May 20, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 877

  • My 9 Favorite Youtube Channels for Jazz Play Alongs

    Before I really started using Youtube, I loved playing along to Aebersold tracks. Working through the tunes in the books and then performing them along with a top-notch band always made practice that much enjoyable. Youtube, however, has allowed for so much more diversity in the play along industry and there are a ton of fun tracks available online for free!

    Here are just a few of my favorite Youtube channels for jazz playalongs.

    1. DC Music School – you can’t go wrong with gypsy jazz

    2. Backing Track Professional – for funk and blues, check out this channel

    3. Learn Jazz Now – for straight ahead jazz

    4. Coffee Break Grooves – for smooth jazz, check out this channel

    5. Learn Jazz Standards – I’ve mentioned their site before and how much I love what they do. Check out their channel with tons of great straight ahead playalongs.

    6. GBQuartet – for some more gypsy jazz

    7. Jam Tracks Channel – for more funk, rock and blues

    8. Fruition Music Performance Tracks – if you’re looking for something more gospel oriented, check out this channel

    9. Sing King Karaoke – if you want some more recent pop and rnb tracks, check out this channel

     

    Do you have a favorite channel? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

    May 4, 2015 • Lessons • Views: 1066

  • Check Out: Jazz Lessons with Tim Price

    If you are a saxophonist or a jazz musician looking to expand or improve your playing, I cannot express the importance of jazz lessons enough. Even though there are an infinite number of materials available – including pre-recorded digital lessons – and they can do a lot to help you improve if you’re trying to work on your own, private lessons can make an immense difference in your playing.

    Having a great teacher can go a long way – but that doesn’t mean that you can get away with not putting in the work. If you want to see a huge (and fast) improvement, working on the material between you lessons is essential. Still, having a teacher that knows what they’re doing and how to explain things in a way you understand is irreplaceable.

    That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Tim Price.

    Tim has worked with Teen Jazz in the past, offering a discount on his services during a few of our past 12 Deals of Christmas programs, and the feedback we’ve received from Teen Jazz readers on the lessons they received from him have been nothing but positive. I, myself, have studied with Tim and I have not walked away from a single conversation with him without something new to work on.

    If you’d like a peek at what Tim Price has to offer as an educator, check out his resources page on Sax on the Web. He’s taken the time to publish quite a bit of free material that you can check out to get a feel for his teaching style.

    Schedule a lesson with Tim Price or find out more about his teaching here.

    About Tim Price

    Tim Price holds a degree from Berklee School of Music. He is a Selmer jazz educator and clinician and he has studied with Charlie Mariano, Andy McGhee, Joe Viola, and Nick Ciazza. He teaches jazz saxophone at the New School University in New York City and has several published books including Great Tenor Sax Solos, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley Collection, and Hot Rock Sax – Techniques, Licks And Effects.

    Learn more about Tim’s teaching.

    *Please note that this is not a sponsored post. This is my own personal opinion. I’ve had several discussions from Tim and have studied under him. He did not ask me to write this post, I have written it of my own volition.

    March 4, 2015 • Lessons • Views: 1354

  • How to Get More Ideas While Improvising Jazz Review

    Title: How to Get More Ideas While Improvising Jazz
    Author: Mark Mercury
    Genre: Music Performance
    Pages: 97 pages

    THE CONTENT

    How to Get More Ideas while Improvising Jazz is a quick and easy read that offers 50 techniques for boosting creativity and inspiration while improvising. Written by Mark Mercury, the book is geared to the intermediate level player who may run out of ideas while soloing or practicing.

    Each of the 50 ideas has step-by-step instructions laid out so that the performer has a clear understanding of the material and how to make it a natural part of their musicianship.

    OUR THOUGHTS

    I think that one of the biggest hurdles at the intermediate stage of our music development is that of finding the inspiration and ideas for both practice and improvisation. How to Get More Ideas while Improvising Jazz is a great resource to overcome that and I enjoyed going through the various exercises throughout the book. It very nicely varied my daily practice routine.

    Mark Mercury suggests a variety of techniques including putting limitations on your solos (like length or chords) and focusing on different aspects of your playing. It’s a really creative way to stretch your approach to improvisation and offers students a great selection of material to work on.

    If you’re looking for new material to work through or ways to improve your improvising ability, this book would be a great addition to your music library (and it’s just $3.99 on Amazon).

    5 Stars. Recommended for those starting out, at the intermediate level, and upper intermediate level.

    Mark Mercury is a composer, pianist and educator with experience in film and television scoring and jazz performance. You can read his guest post on Teen Jazz and learn more about the author here.

    Get How to Get More Ideas while Improvising Jazz on Amazon

    January 12, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 875

  • 11 Ways to Improve Musically in 2015

    It’s getting to be the end of 2014 and everyone’s making the New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. Have you started to make yours? I’ve made mine and I’ve written about them on my blog and you can read them here. If you’re getting ready to make yours, have you included improving on your instrument as part of your plans?

    If so, here are a few ways to help make it happen.

    1. Learn a new instrument. Learning to play another instrument can give you a new perspective on the one that you already play. It can also help develop your songwriting skills if that instrument is, for example, keyboard or guitar.

    2. Learn a new skill. Can’t play altissimo or a certain style? Tackle it this year by setting aside more time to work on it.

    3. Write a song, or if you’re already writing music, try to write at least one song per month or one song per week if you’re feeling ambitious.

    4. Record yourself. Try to record your practice sessions and shows at least once a month so you can hear your progress, hear what needs improvement and then devise a plan to improve.

    5. Read about the music industry or musicians in your genre.

    6. Make it a goal to clean and take of your instrument more often. Have you been neglecting to take your instrument in for a check-up about every six months? Make it a goal for this next year.

    7. Practice with a metronome and/or tuner more often.

    8. Work on sight-reading.

    9. Work on playing by ear. Transcribe some of your favorite artists by playing or singing along to their recordings.

    10. Teach someone to play your instrument. Sometimes teaching helps you understand and implement different aspects of your playing better. It forces you to analyze what you’re doing so that you can explain it and in result, you better internalize that information yourself.

    What about you? What are your plans to continue to improve musically this next year?

    If you’re looking for things to practice, check out this post.

    December 31, 2014 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 859