When you first start out in music, it’s embedded in your brain to practice, practice, practice! As if practicing is the only solution to becoming a great musician… Well, to be fair, practicing does play a significant role in how great a musician you become but there’s more to it than just practicing… There are actually some areas of preparation, goal setting, and simply slowing down that also play a role in becoming a great musician.
Lots of people tend to think that to be a great musician you have to have the talent for it and to have the talent to be a musician is something you either have or you don’t… Well, that’s not the case at all, actually. To be a great musician, sure some people are more musically inclined than others, but the reality of being a great musician is that you have to be willing to work hard and adopt good habits.
These good habits you adopt aren’t just things you do or rituals you do every now and then… these good habits should be practiced every day and every time you practice. Just look at some of the musical greats of the past… If you were to look at their musical journey, you’d see that they spent a large amount of their time practicing and perfecting their craft and sound.
But it’s also important to take note that practicing isn’t just the act of practicing… you also have to practice smart. Take a look at how you can perfect your craft and hone in on your sound by practicing smart and adopting good musical habits to become a great musician.
1. Create an Environment That’s Suitable For Effective Practice Sessions
Making sure you’re practicing in an environment conducive to music practice is one of the most important ways to practice smart. If you play the guitar, you don’t want to go to the living room and just sit on the couch or go to your bedroom and practice laying on your bed… You’ll end up watching TV or falling asleep.
Before you begin a practice session, you need to make sure you’re set up in an area where there are no distractions that will take your focus away from practicing. In creating an environment conducive to practicing, that doesn’t necessarily mean there has to be a designated room in your home, it just needs to be an area where you can feel comfortable and your equipment can (preferably) already be set up.
2. Set Goals For Each Practice Session
Before each practice session you have, you need to have a practice goal in mind… at least one… without it, you’re just aimlessly practicing. Aimlessly practicing can be fun at times, but in your efforts to become a great musician, this is a pointless practice and you might as well not practice at all.
In setting your goals, you need to make sure they’re realistic. The goals you set need to fall into two categories: they need to improve something you already know or challenge you in something new; plain and simple.
There are, of course, all kinds of sub-categories that fall under those categories and it’s up to you to pick those out, just make sure the goals you set are achievable, whether it’s something challenging or you’re improving something you already know.
For example, maybe you play the guitar at an advanced level… Being an advanced guitarist, you’re going to want to test your skills with some extremely challenging guitar solos.
3. Take the Time to Practice Slowly
As a musician on the journey to become a great musician, sometimes you can get in a bit of a rush in wanting to achieve greatness. It’s perfectly understandable… you want to be like the other great musicians you see now but you also have to understand that they didn’t become the great musicians they are today overnight… it took them being patient and slowing down, and that’s what you’ll have to do too.
You might come across a piece you’re working on that has a fast pace and you’re trying to zip through it like the music reads but that’s not how you’re going to learn it. In order to learn fast pieces of music, sometimes you first have to slow it down in order to get your fingerings or handlings right on your instrument first.
That’s not slowing your progress down to greatness… slowing down is actually increasing your progress to greatness because you’re learning it in a way that will stick in your memory… Don’t be afraid to slow down… your time will come.
4. Enroll in Music Lessons
On your journey to becoming a great musician, one of the biggest lessons to learn is to never stop learning. Yes, practicing on your own is great and a wonderful form of self-discipline but in order to be a great musician, you also need to get music lessons from music professionals. This is very beneficial with private lessons and enrolling in a music academy.
5. Record Your Practice Sessions
One of the best ways to get the most out of your practice sessions is to record them. According to musiciansway.com, recording your practice sessions enhances your lessons, sharpens your musicianship, and promotes objectivity.
You can record your practice sessions from your phone or from a portable recorder. If you record just the sound from your sessions, you’ll be able to hear the progression and improvements of a particular song you’ve been working on. If you record your sessions by video, you’ll be able to not only hear your improvements and areas of improvement, but you’ll be able to see your positioning and any distractions in your practice environment.
This is just an overall smart way to practice and it’s a motivational push to improve and keep striving for greatness.