Music is a tough business. It takes a lot of time, work, and dedication to be successful in the industry. Whether you’re starting from the bottom or have been in the industry for years, these 10 tips will certainly keep you motivated.
1. Stop making excuses
Stop telling yourself that you’re too tired, or that it’s not a good time to practice. Just do it.
Be your own motivation and set up a schedule of when to practice, even if it means practicing late at night after work/school. The best musicians are those who made the most sacrifices and worked the hardest.
2. Practice with intentionality
Don’t just play your instrument; actually, pay attention to what you’re playing and try to improve on it.
If you can’t think of something specific to work on, focus on one of these things: tone, time, endurance, dynamics (playing softer/louder), phrasing (how you’re slurring notes), articulation (how you’re tonguing or slurring your notes), etc.
3. Visualize yourself being successful
This tip is similar to the previous one in that it focuses on how you play rather than what you play.
Try closing your eyes, picturing yourself playing at a gig, or just playing your instrument in general, and try to emulate the way you look and how you feel when you actually do play. If something doesn’t look or feel right, work on that thing until it looks and feels more natural.
4. Work out!
Musicians must have strong stamina to keep up with everything else they do.
Rather than just sitting around and just playing your instrument, do pushups and sit-ups to build muscle tone and endurance. When you play, you’ll feel so much more energized and ready to tackle whatever challenge is in front of you.
5. Find a few songs that you love the most
It doesn’t matter what kind of music you play; listen to songs that you actually enjoy and try playing them on your instrument. Try playing along with the song in order to really feel what’s happening in the music and how the emotions of the lyrics correspond with the notes and chords in the song itself. You’ll start to notice patterns when you do this, allowing you to improvise and create your own melodies.
6. Cover a Song
As you cover a song, think of ways to make it your own and experiment with different sounds and techniques. Ask yourself what you would have done differently if the original composer had been in front of you. Would you change any chords or notes? Would you use a different strumming pattern or tone? Would you play something different at the end that you didn’t play at the beginning, and vice versa.
7. Listen to records, not YouTube videos
Sure, watching someone perform might be motivating for some people. But others prefer listening to records because they can fully immerse themselves in what they’re doing. Listening to a record is also more challenging because you have to pay attention to many different things at the same time, including tone, melody, rhythm and more.
8. Talk to other musicians
Don’t just play your instrument by yourself all of the time! Find musicians who are going through similar struggles as you (and not feel like you’re bragging about who you are and what your goals are). Even if it’s online, talk to other musicians because they will inspire you to practice more.
9. Take lessons!
It might seem selfish or unnecessary to take lessons when there are so many instructional videos on Youtube (even though I recommend taking a look around Youtube for a couple of minutes in order to find inspiration). But lessons are actually ideal for musicians because you get one-on-one attention from a teacher who can work on specific things with you.
10. Record yourself
This is another way to be your own teacher and make sure that you’re always moving forward in your musical journey. Record yourself playing and compare your playing to other people; check out online forums to see if anyone can give you detailed constructive criticism that will help you grow as a musician.
And there you have it! These are some inspiring tips that will motivate you to play your instrument and become a better musician. While none of these tips will ensure your success, they certainly won’t hurt your chances at becoming a great musician one day. If you keep practicing, keep learning from others and keep growing as a musician, nothing can stop you.