Ever found yourself frustrated with your playing? Does your practice not seem to be getting you anywhere? Are you on the brink of giving it all up!?
Worry not. We’ve got a method for keeping you in line and on target for improving your musicianship. Escaping The Musical Rut is a series from our resident instrumental hobbyist and aspiring guitar legend.
You might have read our previous blog post on picking up an instrument and sticking with it, but what if you’ve already made it through that hurdle, but have reached something of an impasse? Nearly every musician knows that there comes a time when you’re practising and practising and you never seem to improve. It feels like you can’t get any better, and yet you’ve not become literally the best musician ever. This is the situation I find myself in at the start of 2015 and so I’ve made a resolution to lift myself out of the daunting and deep musical rut I have unwittingly dug myself into. The following post is for existing musicians like myself.
I’m primarily a Guitarist, but the majority of these tips obviously apply to other instruments, too.
Wider and Closer Listening
Listen and listen hard to everything you possibly can. Listen to all the new music you can get your hands on during the morning commute.
Feed some old classics into your kitchen as you cook in the evening.
Listen to genres that you’ve never listened to before, genres that sound like bizarre sci-fi planetary systems. Ever heard of Rap Opera, Stochastic music, Sertenejo, Moombahton, Skweee, Gabber? You have now, and so has Wikipedia, so check them out and listen intently, it’s all incredibly interesting and useful stuff (except maybe Gabber).
Think about the different intricacies of songs, how each instrument works together and why. If a song has more than one guitar, what are they doing, and why does it work or not?
Try sitting down and instead of watching Downton Abbey, listening to an album. Imagine how you might play those melodies or chords, how that artist might have achieved those sounds, then think about how you can use the techniques, tunes and different combinations of notes (or lack thereof).
Something might just click and you’ll have that bit of inspiration you need to carry you over the plateau. Of course, if you find a particular genre or style that really motivates you, you can investigate further through teaching materials like books or DVDs that go into that genre in wondrous detail. Been loving Boogie-Woogie recently? Check this out. Or maybe you’re loving those driving hip-hop beats and drum samples, then this is for you.