How to Practice Better and Become A Better Musician.
Things to keep in mind:
Find a place where you live where you feel really comfortable playing. Always keep your instrument on a stand, out of the case where you can always be reminded of it. You will practice more if your instrument can easily be played!
Find a time of day that you can set aside for playing music and try hard to stick to it. * Just a little bit of practice everyday is better than a ton of practice here and there.
Practice Slowly and always try to play in tune * Everyone wants to immediately play fast. However, you should always work your way up to playing fast by practicing playing everything correctly at a slow tempo with a metronome.
Always keep in mind the FOUR T's. 1. Timing 2. Tone 3. Technique 4. Taste
The Four T's:
Always try and play with something or someone to help you keep you honest about your rhythm.
--- Metronome --- Band-In-A-Box (Download it here) --- Play along with CD's --- Play with other musicians --- Join a Band --- Go to Jams
Simply listen and really try hard to avoid playing things that sound BAD. This is will also improve as your technique improves.
Find a musician with a tone you ABSOLUTELY LOVE and try your hardest to get that tone. You probably will come close if you really work at it, and in doing so you will have a great goal to shoot for in your practice!
Watch Videos of your favorite musicians of your whatever instrument you are learning. Really watch closely how they hold their instrument and the details of their hand/finger placement.
When you practice either put a mirror in front of you or better yet, videotape yourself. Watch back intently and look for things that you could improve upon.
One of the most important qualities of being a great musician is having taste. It's hard to describe "how to get taste", but one can start by simply listening to other players that are very tasteful players. These players know what to play and what not play....when to play and when to not play. Just simply by being very sensitive to the music and the musicians around, you can start doing this. Know when to play quiet and when to play with volume and intensity. Know when to be bluesy and know when playing bluesy is not fitting for the song. Use your ear...listen, listen, listen. Be sensitive. Don't force what you what to happen in the song, let the song and the music, environment, and audience around you help you choose what to play next next.
Things to work on:
Transcribe, Transcribe, Transcribe!
Transcribing means sitting down and learning a song or a lick by ear directly off of the CD. Why is this good? In doing this you will be working on the Three T's, and your ear all at the same time. It's like having a super condensed power packed practice session!
You can buy several programs for your computer to help your Slow The Lick/Song Down so you can figure it out.
The best transcriber I've found is called the Amazing Slow Downer! (Download it here)
You can slow what you want to figure out down, yet it doesn't try the pitch and the sound quality stays really close the original.
Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, Music Theory, Etc.
With a Metronome, Band-In-A-Box, or another musicians playing backup, or playing along with a practice track you made or bought, work on playing/improvising with whatever new scale, arpeggio, or chord you are learning.
You should always strive to have a complete understanding of your instrument. Work on knowing very quickly exactly where each note, chord, scale is on your instrument, and how to play it with the most efficiency and best tone you can get.
Always be learning a new song!
--- Learn the Melody and be able to play rhythm while someone else plays the melody. --- Understand and know what chord goes with each melody note of the song. You should also strive to understand what notes you could play over each chord.
Example: for a G chord you could play the following and more:
--- The notes in that chord (G - B - D) --- G major scale (G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G) --- G major pentatonic scale (G, A, B, D, E) (You've removed the 4th, and 7th tone of the scale. --- G minor pentatonic (G, Bb, C, D, F, G) --- G blues scale (G, Bb, C, Db, D, F, G)
You should strive to know how to do this for each new chord you learn and all the chords you already know.
Arrangements And Originals
You should always have either a new song or idea your are working on or take a song you already know, and try and work out your own version of it. Write it down and save it so you don't forget it! Before you know it you will have a library of songs you have done!
Join A Band Or Go To Jams!
Joining a band or going to jams will motivate you to practice, and also give you an outlet to play and experiment with some of the things you are working. It will also help you with your rhythm and give you ideas for new songs that you can work.
Practice Playing Standing Up If You Are Going To Be Playing A Lot Standing Up.
It always is different playing standing up until you get used to it. If you only practice sitting down when you go out to play and you have to stand up it will feel very unnatural and your playing will greatly suffer.