Music streaming services compared - the differences
Recently, after a concert, I was chatting with a friend about making music. A phrase was uttered that I've heard so often over the last few years that I could actually say it myself: “I also had lessons as a child, but then somehow I didn't feel like it anymore. It's a shame really.” At that moment, I wondered why this is happening to so many people. They enthusiastically start learning a new instrument and then throw away everything they have learned after a few years. Often the reason for lost motivation is ineffective practice. Later they get annoyed about it because the basic interest in music typically remains.
There are certainly various reasons for this fact. From a certain age you develop new interests and at some point you simply have less time for hobbies. But another very crucial point is that many people lose the motivation to keep sitting down and practicing. And that is exactly a point that is often neglected in class: How can I practice effectively?
Motivation is directly related to a sense of achievement, and you have to work for it. Many simply practice wrong and make visible progress so slowly that they gradually lose motivation. You also have to learn how to practice yourself. Here are a few tips that I have found will make practicing more effective and more fun and motivating with your instrument.
It's like sports. Three shorter units bring significantly more than one very long and intensive one. Anyone who learns something new often has to repeat it so that what has been learned can take hold and eventually become intuitive. The brain also processes newly learned information overnight. That means: take 15 minutes every day instead of three hours one day a week. Of course, that's not to say that long practice sessions are bad. The more you practice, the faster you'll progress. But try to make regularity a priority so that you can practice as effectively as possible, get your sense of achievement regularly and stay motivated.
Sounds paradoxical at first, but this is also about how the brain learns new things. Let's imagine you want to learn a certain line, lick, fill, or chord progression that you don't know yet. Especially at the beginning it is very important to get the first few passes right. The first path you take is always the easiest to remember. The danger of making mistakes at the beginning and then having to get used to them with difficulty is significantly lower if you practice very slowly and precisely.
The danger of picking up the tempo too quickly is of course obvious, because it's simply more fun to play the things you want to learn at the original tempo. However, small technical errors often creep in here, preventing you from playing the passage correctly. And how are you supposed to learn a movement you've never done properly? Therefore, always practice your material just below your limit so that you are challenged, but not overwhelmed. Then you no longer have to concentrate on all aspects. In addition, it is much more motivating to gradually pick up the pace and thus have a sense of achievement than to slow down at some point and take what feels like three steps back.
It can help if you keep a practice diary and document your progress. Because there are always phases in which you have the feeling that you are not getting anywhere. Then you can always go back a few pages and see where you've improved. It also helps to structure everything and practice effectively. Let's say you're practicing a particular run or scale. Here you can, for example, write down the BPM numbers for certain exercises and know the next day where you were, which songs you are currently learning and what things you are working on. This will mean you can start right away without spending energy to first structure the session. Practicing effectively also means having a good structure. Of course, this looks a little different for everyone, since not everyone learns in the same way.
A practice plan can also be useful. Try to cover different topics here and write down in a structured way what you want to work on in the next few weeks. Topics can be: timing, technique, theory, a list of songs you want to learn, scales, stylistics, improvisation, songwriting, and many others. Of course, all of these topics have sub-topics. You have to find out a bit for yourself how exactly you want to divide it up. It is not important here where the boundaries between the individual subject areas are drawn, because the most diverse subjects often overlap anyway.
Create a situation for yourself where you can just pick up the instrument and get started right away. Then you will also do it in between moments, when there is only a little time. In addition, because you don't have to set it up first, you have one less “hurdle” to overcome in order to get to the instrument regularly.
There isn't much more to say here. You shouldn't practice exclusively with a metronome, but become very familiar with it. No matter what you play, timing is one of the most important things in making music.
Nowadays there are many different ways to put together your input. You can go to class in a “traditional” way, which makes a lot of sense, especially at the beginning. There you will learn the basic techniques properly and have a basis for further training on the instrument independently. Then of course there is an incredible amount of material on YouTube. Tutorials on individual songs, techniques, theory, improvisation, timing, and songwriting. The problem here, however, is that these are often individual, non-contiguous videos. In order to understand this, you need a certain basis.
Of course, there is still a lot of material for beginners, but no one can answer individual questions, which is important for many, especially at the beginning. Then there are various online courses that you have to pay for. Masterclasses on various topics. Here I can personally recommend Pickup Music for guitarists. The platform provides endless input and is very inspiring. No matter which path you choose, you have to feel comfortable with it, practice as effectively as possible, and stay motivated. There is no one right way here.
So far we have discussed a lot of technology and structure here. Rather dry topics. Music, of course, is actually the opposite of that. Therefore, make sure that you not only practice technique, timing, and theory, but play as many songs as you can. Improvise over backing tracks, write your own songs, riffs, or think up chord progressions, grooves or fills. Only here does everything you have practiced in the previous steps come into play. And that's why we try to make the practice as effective as possible: To be able to make music with it in the end.
Despite all your ambition, don't forget that you started out because it's fun. Don't be intimidated by people who play better than you. They will always exist on the internet, no matter what level you play. Always try to have as much fun as possible with the instrument, otherwise you will not stick with it in the long run.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful ways to make music and maybe even the ultimate discipline when it comes to “practicing effectively.” Find friends who also play an instrument, join an orchestra or a band. Because nowhere is what you have practiced at home used as well as in interaction with others. If this has been about practicing effectively, this is the most effective way to use the things you've practiced. Plus, it's just so much fun!
Wondering where you can find other musicians to make music together? Quite simply: Here on mukken! Here you will find music enthusiasts of all kinds, you can exchange ideas or start new projects. In the blog you will also find other interesting things about practicing and learning instruments. We look forward to you.
Originally published on July 14, 2022, updated on July 19, 2022