We all want to get better, which means we’re all on the same path. When you see someone whose music blows you away, the tips below are part of what they did to get there. No matter how impossible it seems, you can do it, too. Follow these 7 guidelines:
And the thing is, no matter how good you get, you can continue to improve and deepen your understanding. Embrace the struggle, enjoy the process. The obstacle is the path.
Here’s what that unending practice sounds like from Pat Metheny.
Just a quick heads-up about a free songwriting course over at Coursera, taught by Pat Pattison, from Berklee College of Music.
Music, like many things, is best learned through imitation. By recreating the sounds you love, you’re literally embodying that knowledge. Owning it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bach, Beastie Boys, or Benny Golson, figuring out and recreating your favorite tunes is what every single one of the best musicians you’ve heard do in the quest to become a great musician.
Our brains are literally wired for imitation. I’m talking about the mirror neuron system a topic that’s covered in detail in The Practice of Practice.
Here are a few performances by Kawehi, covering Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box, Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel, and a couple others interesting musical inventions.
Tasty! This is what lots of practice sounds like. Moanin’ by Bobby Timmons (lyrics by Joe Hendricks). Here’s the album on Amazon.
Sting talks below about overcoming writer’s block. When we see these luminaries of music, it often appears they have no struggles, that music simply flows from them. But that’s not the case, most of the time. Music is work. A labor of love, to be sure, but still, a labor. A labor fraught with error and the necessary correction; a labor fraught with being (or feeling) “stuck.” Listening to Sting talking about being “stuck,” I thought of the Beethoven’s Opus 69 manuscript below and what every professional musician I’ve interviewed has said about being stuck…
Most professional musicians I’ve spoken with about practice believe that the performance is one of many forms of practice. Some use performance specifically as their only practice. For those who practice alone or are shy, a good performance requires skills that aren’t honed in the practice room. You’ve got to just get out there, do it, and learn from it. This fun TED talk by Joe Kowan is a perfect example of practicing performance, and using creativity to enhance practice.
Here are 12 practice suggestions from Master Marsalis. Each one could be the subject of a book on its own. After the vids, I’ve added suggestions to consider below each of Wynton’s rules. Some will be covered more thoroughly in the book, “The Practice of Practice.”