1. Practice MORE
We’d all like to play more and make noticeable improvements, but all too often life gets in the way. Try carving out time to sit down and get some serious practice in. That might mean less time to watch the entirety of The Crown in a single sitting but the rewards will soon show in your playing.
If you simply can’t make more time to practice, try practising smarter! Identify weak spots or skills you’d like to develop and spend the time you do have working on them. Split your sessions up into four sections: warm-ups, technique training, learning a new song and playing a song you know. Efficiency is key.
2. Learn a New Song
Have you ever heard a song and thought, “I’d love to be able to play that, but I don’t think I have the ability to pull it off”? Sometimes the best way of progressing in your chosen instrument is to pick a track you consider to be potentially above your current skill level. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone and aiming to learn a seemingly difficult piece can really help to develop you as a player.
We all hit barriers during practice where we feel we aren’t advancing as much as we should be; nailing a song you’ve always wanted to learn can be seriously fulfilling, and may even remove any creative roadblocks you feel you’re encountering. Get to it!
3. Finish Building your Instrument Rig
Do you feel like your sound is… incomplete? Finally filling out your rig with all of the instruments, effects and recording gear you’ve been after for years will bring a new lease of life to your playing. It’s boring hearing the same sound over and over again, so it’s time to spice things up to and breed some creativity.
Guitarists have an almost endless list of options to add to their shopping cart, so we suggest you do your research in person and try out some guitar pedals. You never know, that new tremolo stompbox might be the spark to the biggest riff of the decade. Synth enthusiasts have an equally enviable catalogue of tech to explore for their next sound, be it a eurorack module or an all-encompassing workstation.
4. Explore Different Music Genres
Inject some new music into your playlists! Listening to a variety of genres will help define the player you become. Many of our favourite musicians take influence from a wide range of genres; most of the time they don’t listen to much of the music they play themselves. Thanks to modern technology, there are so many cool ways to find exciting music. Here are some of our favourites…
- Use Spotify Artist Radio and Discover Weekly – The Spotify artist radio feature will help you to find new artists that are in a similar field to what you’re listening to and discover weekly will try to introduce some new music. Whilst it won’t be wildly dissimilar to your existing listening tastes, it provides an easy gateway to something new.
- Listen to podcasts – Aside from the Andertons Music Podcast, there are some great podcasts out there to help inspire your playing. We’d recommend you try Song Exploder or Sodajerker for starters. Also, the Guitar Nerds is great! Podcasts often discuss cool different genres and styles.
- Go to gigs – Gigs are a great way to discover your love for live musicianship and learn about rig setup. You might even meet a few fellow musicians. Some of today’s most notable artists have worked their way through the ranks, so it’s invaluable experience to get to know the musicians on the scene.
- Don’t be afraid to try something unusual – Discover what’s happening outside your instrument’s primary discipline – it’ll open up a whole new world of inspiration. Some of the best rock guitarists have been influenced by hip-hop and RnB , for example. Think about rhythms, grooves, techniques and timings. Many genres will help you to develop different ways to play.
5. Write New Music
Writing music is one of the most rewarding parts of being a musician. But sometimes it’s difficult to reignite your passion to create something new. Momentum is key to keeping the good feelings going. Try keeping a travel rig set up when possible to record ideas on the go – there is nothing worse than when an idea passes you by. Take notes and keep a track of some of your cool ideas. If all else fails, use your phone to stockpile clips and melodies that pop into your head.
Jam with friends. There’s a lot to be said for letting the creative juices flow! Yes, I said creative juices. Over it? Okay, what I mean is bouncing ideas of one-another can be super useful. Writing as a duo or group is great fun and quite often, the results are impressive. Strength in numbers and all that. Explore new music to see if you can incorporate any ideas from genres outside the one you’re writing within. Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea! This brings us onto…
Try keeping a travel rig set up when possible to record ideas on the go – there is nothing worse than when an idea passes you by.
6. Recording More Music
Aimlessly noodling away on your guitar can be a nice way to unwind after a difficult day. But after a while, playing the same songs, scales and patterns can get pretty boring. It’s therefore imperative to find new things to inspire you musically. Recording is guaranteed to unlock more potential from your abilities.
If you’re someone who already experiments with songwriting, you’ll know that capturing your ideas is incredibly important as it ensures they’re never lost in the depths of your subconscious. Dedicated recording software also allows you to refine your ideas, so you can develop a simple two-bar riff into a flourishing, full-fledged song. For example, try multi-tracking to add layers and additional melodies, and make use of virtual instruments to provide accompaniment. Once you develop an original piece of music, you’ll find yourself feeling motivated to create more – and therefore play your instrument with intent!
7. Learn to Play a New Instrument
Learning to play a new instrument can be a monumental task. But you know what? Taking on the challenge is absolutely worth it in order to become a better musician. This is the best way to develop your musical understanding.
As you fully well know, the learning process requires focus, discipline and plenty of brainpower. But it’ll make you fall in love with the art again as you adapt your musical skills to the new hobby. Depending on the instrument you choose, your perception of the music you’ve heard hundreds of times before will quickly change and even encourage you to listen to different genres.
Making your own music using multiple instruments is super fun. You’ll be able to compliment tracks with your new-found skills by adding parts you’d have never considered before. You’ll also become more knowledgeable about building songs, incorporating a variety of sounds and blending them coherently from a technical perspective.
Guitarists looking to adapt quickly to a new sound might find a bass guitar or an acoustic instrument like a ukulele a great place to start. For pianists, your musical direction might take you into synth territory or onto the likes of drum machines and sequencers.
If you enjoyed this read, check out more of our Learn and Industry articles.
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