Here are a few tips I always recommend to all of my students, at all levels and ages. Parents who are interested in helping their child succeed in music will benefit from these few simple solutions. Many people learn at different levels, paces, and the process of learning an instrument and really playing music is different for everyone, but over the years I have found these tips to be very effective. I try to make it a point with every new student I have
Regular practice is the key. Practicing the same time every day will help you to develop good practicing habits early that can stick with you the rest of your life. When I was 12 or so I remember going away to summer camp and meeting two brothers who played guitar duets. I asked them how they got so good playing guitar and one of them replied to practice 30 mins everyday for two weeks. I remember after doing that my playing was immediately amplified and my then guitar teacher was impressed! A certain amount of “Grunt work”, is needed to get over the first hill. After that the hills get larger, and tougher, but in a sense they are all just hills, or mountains.Try to find a consistent time and schedule and stick to it! That is not to say that you have to practice all “Book work” , or formal education type approach. Outside or exploratory playing is always encouraged, and will help with songwriting later, but the first six months is really all about getting your head in the game, and jumping in the pool. Evaluate your personal schedule and commit to times and days for the first 3 months. Something like Monday Wednesday Friday 12:30 p.m. is great. Or if it is just once a week that is fine too, but you are barely getting your toes in the water with that kind of a routine. Set small goals at first, and make regular consistent practice your first one.
Practice with a metronome. I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice with a metronome. Especially for rhythm section instrumentalists. When I first started out my teacher let me borrow his metronome, and I remember it being very painful and “boring” , at first, especially when I couldn’t even make the chords sound right. Music is made up of many parts, but the tempo, or beat makes up the foundation that will hold everything together. Each player carries an inner sense of time. When you practice with a metronome you improve your inner sense of time. You won’t have a metronome when you perform with other musicians, and instead it is a collective responsibility for each to have a sense of good time. I have seen many students neglect the metronome and that is very unfortunate. We are all responsible for holding good time. If you are just starting out and the metronome is driving you crazy, place it in an adjacent room, or muffle it with a towel until you can get comfortable. You can also buy softer metronomes. I recommend the turn dial type metronomes because they are easier adjust the tempo. Some beginner students complain that it makes them nervous at first, remember that it is a process and that is natural. Eventually you can use the metronome to manipulate time, and add various rhythm to your music which makes it more interesting. After a while you will have a good enough sense of time to where you will not need to practice with it, however I have found that I keep coming back to it. I use mine for some sort application every day.
Find a quiet well lit area, devoid of distractions to practice. This needs to be a place wear you can have peace and quiet to focus on what you are doing. My first apartment had very thin walls, and floors. The neighbor who lived below me would tap a broomstick on her ceiling when any music was to loud. I eventually ended up clearing out a very small backroom closet to set up a studio. It is important to have a playback device, paper, staff paper, pencils, erasers, headphones, and literature, all close and easily accessible. If you have a family, or roommates place a note on the door that you are practicing. You can also simply make it aware to everyone when you intend to practice. Turn off or put away the phone, computer, T.V, and anything thing else that could distract you. Experienced musicians use all kinds of technology simultaneously to accomplish everyday tasks, and eventually you will improve your mini studio, however I recommend just the basics at first.
These are the top three things that I recommend to anyone who is starting out on an instrument. On top of all of that, make sure you are listening constantly, and have a good teacher who is teaching you how to play the instrument itself. I hope these tips are helpful!
Contact me for lessons. Chris@chrisluthermusic.com