There are few people in the world who don’t enjoy some form of music, but not many possess the will or commitment to learn a musical instrument well. If you’re one of those rare individuals whose goal is to become a professional musician or to master an instrument as a hobby, the right mindset can make a world of difference in the outcome of your efforts.
From choosing an instrument to setting goals to making time for practice no matter what, learning an instrument is a meditation in itself that requires focus, determination and an unfailing love for your craft. Here are eight tips to help you get started in your journey of becoming a musician who knows that deep learning requires the right attitude as much as it needs hard work.
Pick the right instrument
When you want to learn music, the most important step is to choose an instrument that you really want to learn to play. Oftentimes, we’re driven into learning something because our peers are doing it. For instance, a college mate or family member may insist that you join them for accordion classes, or you may decide to learn the guitar only because of its popularity.
The right approach, instead, is to learn more about a number of different instruments, hear others play them, try each one yourself, and then make up your mind about which one you want to master.
Learning a new instrument requires dedicated time and effort, and you don’t want to pay for gear and classes unless you’re sure you’ve found one that’s just right for you.
Stock up on patience—and perseverance
Even if you’re already proficient in one instrument, learning a new one requires that you treat yourself as a beginner all over again—someone who’s prepared to make mistakes, be patient and put in long practice hours.
When you’re already good at music, it can easily get frustrating when you can’t get the desired output from a new instrument. Instead of allowing it to become an ego issue, surrender completely to your newfound passion and don’t punish yourself for taking so much time to master it.
Start slow, keep going and enjoy the learning process with all its highs and lows.
Find a good teacher
Not everyone can learn the intricacies of music by watching online tutorials or reading books. Some people require the guidance, hand holding and discipline a structured class can offer. If you’re serious about learning music but don’t see yourself making any progress on your own, explore local and online classes offered by experienced teachers.
Going to a physical class or taking an online course with a real teacher may just be the push you need to realize your goal. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can then take a break from regular classes for self-paced learning.
Invest in a good instrument
Whether it’s a guitar, violin, harmonica or a steel tongue drum, when you’re serious about learning a new form of music, it’s important to consider your equipment as an investment and buy top quality instrument and accessories from a trusted seller.
Low-quality instruments produce subgrade sound and may require frequent repairs, which will affect both your learning curve and your interest. When starting out, avoid buying the top model and instead choose an affordable mid-level instrument apt for your level.
Don’t skip the theory
Unless your intention is to learn to play a few famous tunes to impress friends and family, music theory needs to be an indispensable part of your lessons. A sound knowledge of theory will help understand the intricacies of your instrument and expedite your learning process.
A good grasp of the basic chords and scales is essential when it comes to making music, and a good teacher will always insist that you spend time learning the theoretical concepts, aside from practicing consistently.
To make it work, set realistic short-term and long-term goals, smartly dividing your time between learning the concepts and practicing them. Above all don’t get disheartened by slow progress.
Don’t underestimate the power of group practice
When it comes to music, there’s no alternative to consistent solo practice. But the long hours of playing alone can get isolating and even make you lose interest. This is why, whether you’re learning your first instrument or fourth, there needs to be a healthy balance between individual and group playing sessions.
Playing with other musicians is one the best ways to improve your craft. If you can’t find a local group, make one of your own. For instance, you can organize weekend jam sessions and invite new and seasoned musicians at school and in your neighborhood for the same.
Also check with local music schools and bands for events where aspiring musicians are given an opportunity to perform.
Observe the maestros
Those who want to be exceptional at playing a musical instrument know how valuable it is to watch and hear the masters play. Studying and observing people who’ve mastered an instrument, whether it’s a world-renowned artist or a local player, is one of the best ways to hone your skill.
Every expert will teach you something unique and invaluable. For instance, listening to the current players is a great way to learn the latest in music while studying the legends helps you master the nuances. Whether through online videos or learning from a mentor in person, keep evolving your knowledge by seeking new opportunities to better your skill.
Don’t get deterred by the additional expenses
If cost is a concern, there are several ways to learn a new musical instrument without spending a fortune on classes, materials and equipment. Rather than giving up the idea of learning because it’s turning out to be unaffordable, look for ways to minimize your costs. Buy a preused instrument online, watch free video tutorials, download free books or buy preloved books, and check with local music shops for free classes. This will help you pursue your passion without blowing your budget.