So you want to learn an instrument? Here are some top tips.
A little and often between lessons is better than practising a lot the night before your next lesson. If you neglect your instrument for even a few days you will lose some of the benefit of your hard work. This is especially true with regard to instruments you need to blow – woodwind and brass – when the muscles in the mouth need regular exercise to strengthen and develop.
Practise when there won't be distractions so you can focus fully on your music.
Try and plan a regular routine of practice and remember the better you get the more practice you will need to do. In the early days you might only need to do 15 minutes a day. When you get really good – Grade 6 and above – you need to spend over an hour a day every day on practising.
It is easy and more enjoyable to focus on those pieces of music that you can play. To improve, however, you should focus on those bits of music that you struggle with. You don't always have to start from the beginning of a piece of music. Spending 5 minutes working on a section that causes you problems is better than 10 minutes playing the piece through over and over again but not mastering that troublesome section.
Remember that all the best musicians work for many hours and hours to master their music and make it look easy. You may become frustrated if you are struggling to play certain pieces. But they must have struggled too. Some days it can be hard just to get started but it will be worth it in the end.
Take every opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Yes, it will be scary, and you will probably be nervous, but the only way to conquer those nerves is to get out there and do it. Remember: all audiences are on your side and want you to succeed, so go out there and enjoy your performance. Everyone makes mistakes and plays the odd wrong note here and there – it doesn't matter!
Learn from others
Make time to listen to recordings or watch performers on the internet. Don't have this as background noise – listen, really listen.
Go to live concerts. Every performer approaches music differently. You can develop you own style by listening to how other perform and using what they do in your own performance.
Take responsibility for your own progress
As well as doing what your teacher asks you to do in lessons try some other things:
- occasionally try playing your favourite tunes by ear
- make up some music of your own
- join a band, an orchestra or other music group – you will learn so much more about your instrument and develop your musicality by playing with others
Practice really does make perfect and if you practise hard you can be very proud of what you achieve.