A continuation of 1-5… Enjoy!
6. Play with people! As obvious as this may be, for many, it may not be so… Many musicians are more than comfortable playing solo at home for ourselves, or our friends and family, but it is totally different when you play with another person (or a whole band). So many things can change when we are in a setting with other players that our musical selves must react to, from simply playing at a different tempo than we’re used to, to having to accompany someone, to having to think in terms of filling up space, and so much more… Getting into these settings can really help by putting us in the moment, and having our ears and hands react to our surroundings outside our comfort zone.
7. Write music if you’re an improviser, Improvise if you’re a composer/songwriter It can be pretty easy to get into a rut, hit a wall, or just get creatively tired, so we have to in many cases, put ourselves into a different context to get inspired. Composing and songwriting is really just writing down something that was improvised, then editing, and improvising is just composing or songwriting in real-time. Try the reverse of what you’re used to, to get a fresh and inspired perspective, while improving your overall skills as a musician.
8. Transcribe. As per the previous blog entry Transcription: A guide to the how and why of stepping outside yourself, which you can check out and read about transcription a bit more in depth, I believe there is no better musical workout than transcription. You can get the instant results of learning something you like such as a solo or a song, etc, and have that added to your vocabulary and repertoire all while giving your ears and hands a workout. By transcribing you build up your ear training, your vocabulary, and your technique, as well as seeing lines, phrases, chords, etc, that you would not have been able to think of yourself. It is truly the best workout for all aspects of your ear, hands, and musicianship.
9. Ear training. There are plenty of tools and software programs on the Internet for this, or you can simply just transcribe. By building your ear’s instant recognition of intervals, chord types/qualities, rhythms, and phrases, your musical self is elevated. By having a strong ear, not only can we pick up music quicker, be a stronger player, and have command of the things listed above, but it also builds the (arguably) most important thing: the ear to hand connection, and the eye to ear connection (if reading music). This allows us to have command of executing what we hear in our heads on our instrument, as well as translating the notes on a page to inside our ears and subsequently on our instrument.
10. Take a Lesson. No matter what stage of the game you’re at, studying with a pro can always help. Tiger Woods still has a teacher, as does Andy Roddick, so do the Boston Celtics, they have coaches. There is always more to learn, and we can only get so far with out having a professional 2nd set of ears from an outside prospective to give constructive criticism. There is an endless amount of information, as well an and endless amount of great teachers (such as http://www.MusiCloudLessons.com) out there willing to share their knowledge; Take advantage and be open to not only what a teacher, but a fellow musician has to say!