Music is a language that bridges cultures, men or women, and many more types of people. Sometimes when learning music people find that they have not arrived at the destination that they hoped by the time frame that they expected. Their journey gets detoured or it gets delayed. Other things in life interfere with the progress that you can be making such as stress at work, homework overload, and other extracurricular activities can all become a conflict to your progress. Here are some ways that you can reach your music goals in a timely manner.
1-Consistent Practice Is Key-
This may be the most obvious of all the reasons listed but it may also be the most true of all of them. Sometimes people have natural musical talent running through their veins as if it were part of them. But for the 95% of people (including myself) we need to really put a good amount of work to be able to nail that big performance. Here are my 3 suggestions to really keeping your practice to the right level to keep you growing like some form of fast growing bamboo.
1.a. Plan Out Your Week- If you can plan out your week so that you can get your practice schedule on a regular basis you will find out that you have no problem getting better at a steady rate. If you know you have another engagement 2 days that week that make it so you will have absolutely no time to practice, try and plan a set time after dinner that you can sit for 20 minutes or so and knock out your assignments. Just like when you were in school and did homework, pick a time everyday where you can get it done and move on to other things you enjoy. Music is fun and a great thing for anybody to learn but balance in your life is equally important.
1.b. Always Keep a Record Of What You Worked On- This is something that may seem silly but I will tell you why it is not silly. If you can keep a somewhat detailed log of your practice times and what you did each session it helps you figure out how you are progressing. Are you wondering why you are having trouble with that Metallica solo? Well you look at your practice log and see that you have worked on it for a total of 30 minutes over the last 3 weeks. Maybe that is your issue. It just helps you stay honest with yourself and your progress.
1.c. Everyday Is Best- When at all possible even 15-20 minutes everyday will put you in a better position than an hour right before you come to your lesson. It is the equivalent of cramming for a math final that is 50% of your grade in the study hall before the test in an hour trying to recap something you had ample time to work on. I am by no means saying you will hit a perfect 365 days in a row. But just picking it up your music every day and chipping away at that mountain will result in a pebble that you can kick into the catacombs of space. But push on a solid mountain all day the day before it needs to be gone. You will be working into the wee hours of the night.
2. You Are Not Practicing Properly-
This one is the most common one I have found in students who have been playing a lot from YouTube videos or have learned by ear. It’s not your fault, you just never really thought about how to turn a half hour practice session into effectively an hour long practice session, Here are my tips to knock this out effectively.
2.a. Multipractice-By this I do not mean go to the local shady doctor and get some type of growth hormone to have you grow two more arms or legs. By this I mean play along with the track that you are learning, making you practice your rhythm, chords, and chart reading all at the same time. This is hyper effective once you have the bones worked out. If you are still trying to find the chords on the fretboard or on the keys before you try this. But if you can do this you are doing everything at once including your ear training, hand eye coordination and strengthening your hands.
2.b.Break What You Are Doing Into Candy Sized Pieces- I preach this to my students within the first 6 months almost every lesson. If you are learning a song with numerous different pieces you can work with your teacher to break these into manageable sized pieces that are very simple to do in those pieces. Any music college teaches you attend would talk to you about how to break your pieces into phrases, yet for some reason a lot of music teachers do not teach this.
3. Get Your Frustration In Check-
I think this is the vaporizer of so many musicians. You get to the point that you are cresting a big mountain and you are ready to ride your success out into your next victory but the frustration sets in. This is a hard enemy to defeat but once you know the trick to do it you will fool him to tripping on a shoelace and falling flat on his face. Here are my tips to crush that old foe.
3.a. Set A Realistic Expectation- If you are learning the newest speed metal song that has been playing on your playlist every hour, remember the band member who played that part is probably someone that had to work on that to ever record it and they probably had an infinite amount of times to get it perfect. I am a firm believer that it is better to have it right than have it fast. Take your time and make your work absolutely perfect.
3.b. Stay Motivated, Stay Positive - When you have you watched a press conference of a sports team and the coach said “Our team sucks and we should all just retire and I will let the next coach worry about it”? Never. Vince Lombardi one of the most famous coaches ever was most well known for being a great motivator. General Patton used to say no bullet will ever kill me as he would wear a gold helmet while riding on top of a tank leading his men into the battlefields of the European Theater of WWII, (and he lived through every battle). So motivation to be good and staying confident is what it takes to be good at anything, not just music.
4. Lack of Connection With Your Teacher-
Think back to when you were in school, even if you hated school, there was one teacher in or out of school when you were young that you gained a lot of information from. Your music teacher should be someone that you bond with on a deeper level that just a substitute teacher. It is up to your teacher to reach that bond with you. Here’s why.
4.a. Music Teachers Are A Lifelong Friend- When you find the right teacher, you should know them just as well as you know your buddies. Your music teacher usually knows about your spouse, your favorite sports team, how well your pie did at the local 4H judging at the fair. This is up to your teacher to sort of inquire about what has been going on with you. If your teachers not asking you just some basic questions about how things have been going, you can almost ensure that they like their job as much as the guy picking up trash on the highway. Also ask us anything, we are friendly we will tell you about us too!
4.b. Take Time When You Are Setting Up To Tell Us About You- When you are setting up for your lesson tell us something good that happened to you in the last week. We love to hear about you and every good teacher keeps a mental catalogue of what you tell us, this helps us teach you. If you mention that you liked that new Avengers movie, maybe there is a song from that movie that we can play in our lesson this week. The more open you are the more it helps us teach you. If you don’t talk and tell us what kind of music that you like it’s sort of like throwing knives at a person spinning on a wheel. Their is a fair chance we won’t nail the right song. We are music teachers not mind readers.
5.Music Is Something That Should ALWAYS Be Fun-
This is something that when I set up Portage Music Lessons that I wanted to make the focal point of the company. I have had teachers that I had fun with and I also had a teacher that made music about as fun as watching paint dry. Your teacher should do everything in their power to make your experience fun. Here is what can help turn music into a passion and not just a forced hobby.
5.1. Communicate With Your Teacher-When in your lessons let your teacher know how you feel you have been doing and never hesitate on asking a question or asking us to explain something more in depth. If you absolutely hate something that you are working on, tell us. We have have music we don’t like as well. Help us by making a list of a handful of songs that you wish to learn it helps us put the right music in front of you for your lesson.
5.2. Your Teacher Should Always Ask How You Like The Material- This one is one that gets looked over at a large amount of lesson studios. Some teachers believe that the method books that were used in 1890 kids and adults will still enjoy. Well, people today are used to instant gratification and they want to see some sort of progress on things they like within a lesson or two. If you love Ed Sheeran or want to sing a Taylor Swift song we can probably find something that is going to work well for you.
With this blog post I hope it helped shed some light on ways to help you or your child become a better musician. I have learned from my teaching experience that when the student bonds with you and has fun you have a student that keeps coming back to learn. Most importantly we have a friendship that surpasses the lessons. That is what Portage Music Lessons is trying to accomplish and we hope that we are meeting all of your expectations. If you would like to plan a free goal planning lesson, we will spend 10 minutes talking about what we are going to do to help you and also get some ideas down about what you want to learn. Followed by twenty minutes of a sample lesson of how we teach and we guarantee you will go home being able to play something! Thank you for reading, call or email me with any questions or comments.