Taking private music lessons is a great way to work on your technique, learn a specific song, and start learning the language of music. But if you want to improve as a musician overall, we recommend adding in some extra time and effort outside of the lessons. Your talents can take you far, but the best musicians also immerse themselves in all aspects of music, in every way they can. Here are a few ideas…
1. Attend concerts, shows, and festivals.
This may be something you do anyway, but there are certain things you can be doing at live shows that will make you an even better musician over time: really listen. Recognize the emotions you feel, and connect them to what’s going on in the music. Did the instrument sounds change? Did the tempo, rhythm, or volume change? Is the performer connecting with the audience? Can you hear a conversation between the instruments? As you begin to recognize these minute details, your musical ear will become stronger.
Don’t just be a spectator—perform! The more experience you have performing, the more in tune you’ll be with your instrument and your personal style, and it’s also a great confidence-builder. Look through event guides in your area for open mic nights, grab a few of your buddies for an impromptu jam session, or play for your family at the next holiday get-together. Whatever gets you up and in front of people will help!
3. Open your ears to everything.
Great musicians don’t limit themselves to one genre or style. You don’t have to like it, but by having an open mind and at least appreciating all kinds, you can compare it to your own sound, and even learn different techniques to incorporate into your playing. You can learn something from every genre, even if it’s simply discovering how to express yourself and perform better. Who knows—you might find that spark of inspiration that you needed to compose or refine your own tune.
As you train your ears, you might even begin to hear the music in everyday life—that is, the music of voices, the city, and the movement around you. Keep your ears open, and you may be surprised! It’s a great skill to hone, and one that will stay with you for your entire life.
– Suzy S., TakeLessons staff member and blogger