Along with the New Year comes new ideas, plans, and resolutions aimed with making this year better than the last. From fitness to relaxation, new interests to old hobbies, we try to find time and energy to tackle projects with renewed vigor in hopes that our quality of life is improved.
We all know how the story usually ends. After a few months we lose patience, interest, and stop making the time commitment necessarily to stick with our goals. This year’s resolutions quickly become next year’s and so on. Why can’t this year be different? Together, let’s make the commitment to be creative, expressive, and build confidence through music.
How do we do that? We set realistic goals that are achievable. We take the bore and monotony out of it, and we make fun and enjoyment the primary target.
Goals help us take aim at what we want and provide a path for us to get there. Not all goals are created equal. “I want to be able to play music” is neither specific nor measurable, so it’s impossible to know when or if you’ve reached it. And not reaching your goals can lead to apathy and ultimately, quitting.
Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. If you’ve never played an instrument before, expecting to play a classical piece in one week is not realistic and may not be achievable. Rather, focus on the immediate steps to get there which might include playing a simple 4 measure melody, in time, with the metronome. Once you’ve learned a couple chords, set your goal to be able to play along with a specific section of the recorded music.
Change How You Practice
Remember, practice does not make perfect. But perfect practice will get you close. In music, there is no such things as perfect. We’re human and humans make mistakes. Often, most of the beauty lies in the mistakes. Changing how we look at practicing can help us achieve those goals faster without the frustration.
Instead of setting a goal to practice a certain amount of time, consider focusing on mastering a concept. Put away the clock or timer. Sitting with your guitar or at the piano for 30 minutes by itself will not help you improve. Focused practice, however, will get you over the hump in front of you.
Whether your goal in a given practice session is to master a breathing technique, a complex fingering passage, or simply to play a piece in time, your practice should be focused on that one, singular concept. Rinse and repeat until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do that day. It may take 5 minutes or it may take 45 minutes. But at least your practice was purposeful and not just timed for the sake of doing it for an amount of time.
It’s easy to get excited about music we love. Why spend time on music you do not like? Choosing music outside of your daily playlist will expand your horizons and give you new appreciation for different styles. This is certainly encouraged. If you like it, learn it. If you don’t, move on to the next.
It’s important to identify with what you’re learning to keep your enthusiasm level high and and your interest piqued. Without that motivation and your interest waning, you may be less inspired to continue.
So whether you or your children are interested in pop music, contemporary songwriting, jazz, blues, folk, or classical music, find ways to incorporate that into your lessons. Chances are, you will learn it faster as well since the sounds are already familiar to you.
We Don’t Play Music In A Vacuum
Music is a language. It’s way to communicate, and a means of self expression. Find people to play with and your learning trajectory will skyrocket. So many musical concepts rely on listening skills and action/reaction. Without another person to play with, these skills become severely underdeveloped.
Find a drummer, a bassist, a pianist, or guitarist to play with, and work on ways to play songs that will highlight your strengths. Focus on listening, playing in time, and creating space for your partners to thrive. Whether it’s once a month or once a week, any musical interaction will be worth the time.
The art of playing music goes well beyond our living rooms. Playing with people regularly will inform you on just the things you need to get better at in order to make your jam sessions that much better, which in turn, will make your practicing that much more focused and purposeful.
Setting goals, better practice, interesting repertoire, and playing with people will keep you improving and inspired. As you improve, you’ll build confidence and unleash your creative spirit. This simple recipe will keep you playing well after the New Year and beyond. Contact us here to get started.
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