7 Tips for Beginning Musicians

  1. Spend a little time with your instrument every day. All you need is 10 or 15 minutes. Even 5 minutes is good at first. Make sound with it, but explore other things, too, like its slides, tuners, mouthpieces, cleaning stuff, whatever you’re curious about. Watching a YouTube video or three is also practice! Learn all you can wherever you can, but don’t forget to actually make some sound on your instrument, too. Pro tip: leave your instrument out so you can pick it up quickly.
  2. Sing. This might seem weird, but singing is one of the best things you can do for your musical ability. If singing makes you nervous, call it “pitch-matching” instead. Find a note (pianos/keyboards are helpful with this) and match the pitch with your voice. You’re training your awareness of pitch.
  3. Listen! Listen to (and watch) people play your instrument (hello, YouTube). Watching live musicians right in front of you is best, but YouTube works, too. When you listen, tap your foot or pat your hands with the beat. Pro tip: If you’re watching, don’t just watch: study what you see: how do they use their fingers/mouth/breath? Are they tapping their feet? Ask questions if you get a chance. This is one of the best, easiest, and yet most neglected activity even more advanced musicians forget to do.
  4. Forget about reading music at first. Reading music is a complex skill, and a useful one, but at first it can cause frustration and confusion, the LAST thing you want when getting started. Music is about SOUND, and reading music is all about sight. Skip the reading music part for the first few weeks (when you practice), and focus instead on making a good sound, or any sound. Experiment! Pro Tip: Try:
    • lowest & highest sound
    • quietest & loudest
    • longest & shortest
    • slowest & fastest
    • weirdest sound
    • clean change from one note to another
    • separate notes on your instrument
  5. Set a Goal. Before you start, sit for a minute or two and think of a goal you can reach. Maybe it’s something as general as “practice for 10 minutes.” Maybe it’s trying to do a more specific skill, like “play a note for 10 seconds.” Keep a checklist of things you want to be able to do on the instrument. Check them off when you get them. Pro Tip: Make a goal SIMPLE and EASY to accomplish.
  6. Find a mentor. This doesn’t have to be a teacher, though private lessons are a GREAT idea, especially for beginners. A mentor could be someone who is a little better than you. Ask questions, ask them to show you something, and don’t ask another question until you can do that thing.
  7. Don’t be afraid to quit. That means trying again another day, not quitting for good. Everybody has bad/frustrating days. Playing any instrument takes a LOT of time, so be patient and if things aren’t going well, just stop for the day/week and try again later. Try something simpler.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mark Spalding says:

    Hey Jonathan,
    As Always, Thank you so much for your advice and help.
    I am having trouble with playing rhythm guitar while singing.
    I have not dedicated a lot of focused time on it and 15 years later not much to show for it.
    I am going to recommit some time like you have mentioned because it is something that runs deep inside me that really want to accomplish.
    Thanks again!

    Mark Spalding
    Cell 678-776-1135
    Spalding Brokers, LLC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.