Music is the universal language. Even if you have a musical career or just sing as a hobby, no matter what your instrument is, be it piano, guitar, trumpet or even voice, here are the top ten ways to improve your music skills one day at a time.
1. Use a metronome
As academic as this aproach sounds, a metronome is your best friend when it comes to music. It keeps you in time and develops your inner rhythm that usually fluctuates in tempo if not trained propperly. Everybody has a different inner rhythm that is different, like the beats of our hearts, the number and frequency of the steps we take and so on. The metronome keeps everybody in time, so the next time you start your study time or just sing for the thrill of it, try using a metronome, a clicktrack or a backing track. It will do wonders.
2. Listen to as much music as possible
Have standards. Don’t listen to just about anything on the radio. It is sayd that 70 to 80 percent of what we sing and improvise is made out of thing we have already heard. So try to listen only to music that really touches and inspires you.
3. Learn as many melodies as you can
Paying attention to the melody, and not just the song as a whole, this is the best way to improve your creativity. Really listen to a melody that appealed to you and try to refer to it later in you playing, because every little melody from any song can be it’s own song, and learning melodies will boost your musical vocabulary incredibly.
4. Scales and arpeggios
As “ old-school” and boring as it sounds, scales and arpeggios are the best way to improve your technique and best of all knowledge of the placement of musical notes on your instrument. Try playing your scales and the afferent arpeggios ascending and descending everyday using a metronome, loud, in time, and clear and you will see and hear amazing results within a few days.
5. Ear Training
Your ears are your primary tool as a musician. The instrument is merely a secondary tool for expressing yourself. Your ears hear what you are playing, judge and tell you what they want to hear next. So you need to train them. Make up little exercises for yourself and try to reproduce the notes that you hear on your instrument. For example you are in the kitchen and hear a car horn outside, or you just hear the very first note of a song in your mind. Try and focus on the note, and really remember it’s consistency and imagine yourself playing that exact note. After a while, grab your instrument and try to reproduce the same note. It’s not easy at first, but practice makes perfect.
6. Take a break
If you are really passionate or actually live off of music, you most certainly surround yourself with music all the time. The best thing to do when you feel overwhelmed, agitated and uninspired is to just let go. Take a break from your instrument, music and just listen to the silence. Have a few days completely without music. Try going for walks and meeting friends in outdoor quiet places. Have a nice barbecue and just talk and listen to the wind through the trees. Try to listen and reorganize the music in your head, and after a few days you will feel mentally refreshed and ready to sing new and exciting things. Just don’t take too many brakes. One every couple of months should be sufficient.
7. Schedule your study time
One hour of structured study time is ten times more productive that 3 hours of playing the same thing you played yesterday and the day before that. Really evaluate your strong and weak points and write them down. Try to allocate at least one hour everyday to improving your weak points because for example there is no use in having a strong command over scales and how they connect if you do not phrase well. Try spending less time on the thing you already know.
Even if you think you don’t need to learn musical notation and start to sightread, well, you do. Sight reading improves your musical knowledge first of all, and helps you have a visual representation of what you are going to play. And actually seeing the music gives you a better understanding of time and how the notes flow through the measures. Take it one day at a time and start with easy to read songs. Don’t stop if you make a mistake. Just go on. The goal is to read as if you were reading a newspaper.
9.Stick to only one instrument
It’s better to be great at one particular instrument that to mess around with a lot of different ones and not actually be good at any of them. So choose your instrument and stick to it. The rewards that you receive from a well mastered instrument is beyond words.
10. Be patient with yourself
The best thing to keep you going is patience. Don’t despair if you’ve had a bad day and you didn’t have a good study time, or you didn’t do good at the band rehearsal. Think about how much you wanted to be, musically, where you are today. Every day is a step forward and try to enjoy you current situation. Find a song that you struggled with a few years back and see how easy it seems now. The same will happen again. Just be patient and keep on singing.