6 tips beginning musicians should focus on (for long term success)

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1. Learn To Read Music The Right Way

Many starting musicians shy away from reading music, and for good reason: it’s usually taught in the worst way possible.

Instead of being an easy way of freely communicating any musical idea from paper to your hands or voice, it tends to be like a complex puzzle you have to decipher. Additionally, if the music is difficult, you also need to spend many hours practicing the music on top of it.

This is why many people try to go without reading music, maybe learning pieces or songs using videos or tutorials online, or use apps that visually tell you which keys to play, or those scrolling “Guitar Hero” like piano rolls. 

These tools aren’t bad in themselves, but if you rely on these things too much or too long, you’re going to hit a wall in your progress.

Why’s that? There are two reasons: 

  • You won’t be able to learn music yourself without assistance from one of the above tools (unless you develop an amazing ear, see #5), and you’ll be stuck with the version they’re showing you. 
  • Learning more complex musical pieces, techniques, theory, and communicating with other musicians will always be very difficult for you. 

So, if you want to have more musical freedom and a much easier time learning music, then you should learn how to read music. If you need help reading music, scroll down to the bottom of the article and learn how I can help you.

2. Practicing rhythm

This one goes hand in hand with Tip #1.

Not only will rhythm help you read music better, but it’ll give you a whole new awareness of what makes up at least half, if not more of music: rhythm!

Before learning all about rhythm, I remember always having to bring pieces to my teacher because even though I could read notes, I didn’t know how the music sounded like! I have since discovered the immense depth of rhythm and how it affects music in nearly every way — Not just in keeping good time, but also in how it expresses things many times more important than the notes themselves do.

Because of this I highly urge you to develop a deep understanding of rhythm: the beats, note values, meter, etc, and how to count them. You can also learn how they function in a piece of music and analyze it.

After doing this, you’ll have much greater control over your music’s impact. 

3. Develop your technique 

What is technique?

I could write a whole article on this topic alone, but I think it’s best described as the athletic part of the music – your physical capability of playing or singing music – It’s how well you execute music and how much control you have in your muscles, no matter whether the music is simple or complex.

Two people can play the exact same piece of music, but one person can have a much easier time doing so, and at the same time have much more precision, clarity, and control over tone and emotion. This person would be described as having “better technique.” 

I’m sure the benefits of having great technique are pretty obvious, but how do we do it? How do we make playing or singing something easier and spend less time practicing and learning? 

Well, you have to focus on learning how to improve and practice your technique specifically, and not just learning one song after another.

The best way is to:

  1. Practice exercises that strengthen your technique, and
  2. Tackling very difficult pieces. 

In both these cases, it’s helpful to have someone to give you feedback. This will ensure that you’re doing everything right and with good sound. It also helps you make sure you’re using all your muscles correctly, with good motion and without tension.

Of course, nothing is better than private lessons for that! 

4. Learning Intervals, scales, and chords. 

Now you’ve probably heard this one a million times!

Why? Because they are the fundamentals of music, and a master of anything is a master of the fundamentals.

It’s helpful to realize how much of an impact these things have on the real world of music you play. All music is built first on the different types of intervals, scales, chords, and then finally chord progressions. Now if you’re interested in creating music and learning music theory, then these things are absolutely crucial to master.

But what if you’re just playing music?

Well, guess what: whatever music you play has intervals, scales, chords, and chord progressions, as well as a key all those are written in.

Imagine if you practiced and learned all those things separately really well. How much easier would it be to learn a song applying this knowledge?

Whether it’s full of weird key signatures, scale runs, big chords, or arpeggios, you already would have practiced these in your exercises. Then like a computer, you can copy and paste all that practice into the music you’re currently playing.

But again, let’s not make this harder than it needs to be.

I’d love to show you my own step by step methods to get these things down pat. You’ll learn and master these skills from the bottom up in the most effective way possible. Not only will everything be taught to you in the right way and order (and without missing critical details), but you’ll know how they apply it directly and specifically to the music you want to play, learn, or create.

P.S. They’re amazing as well for improvising and embellishing music, a “secret” sauce if you will. 

5. Ear Training 

This one is by far the most useful skill any musician can develop.

Since music really is a “hearing art,” why wouldn’t you need to improve your listening ability? A good ear really separates a good musician from a great one.

Unfortunately, this important skill is among the least taught by music teachers!

It’s staggering to me how under-appreciated it is. It could be because a good ear is surprisingly rare even among musicians who play well, or that people view it as difficult to teach. Many people think it’s kind of something you just have to figure out on your own.

On the contrary, I developed my ear using specific step by step exercises. It starts with exercises that work to open up your ear to discerning the tones more clearly, then identifying notes of the scale, to knowing chords, chord progressions, and melodies – Yes, all by ear.

I could then play or write down the music I hear or whatever else I needed to do.

The more you practice ear training, the better you get.

Of course, you can train yourself by playing music, writing, learning theory, and being exposed to music often in general. But it’s much more difficult, slower, and overall fewer results if you also don’t also combine it with a systematic approach.

Many musicians say listening to music is one of the best ways of learning, but it’s far better if you listen with a trained ear!

6. Learn Music You Love! 

Now everything I said above is great and all, but what’s the point if you’re not using it on the music you love!? Maybe this might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people hold back (either because of themselves or because of their teachers) from learning the music they love.

Maybe it’s because it’s considered too difficult or above their level. It could also be because you need to pass a certain amount of lessons in their method books, app, or course before you’re ready. Or maybe because of the difficulties based on the style or genre of the music.

Really? Do you feel learning should be so hard? Forget all that!

I’ve found that learning difficult music is a great way to improve your playing and technique

Sure, it might take a while to learn if it’s above your current level, but who cares! If it’s music you love, you’ll spend the time and effort learning it.

You’ll have more fun and be more motivated in all aspects of music and practicing, especially as you see yourself making progress and doing things you never thought you could. After all, music and musical skills are not about academically achieving a certain level defined by a third party.

It’s all about playing and creating the music you love. To bring joy to yourself and others, and connect others the emotions you feel. 

As far as styles I’ve got you covered. Whether pop, jazz, or classical music styles, and whether you want to play or create music. Don’t settle yourself short, reach out directly toward your goals. 

So, how can you make reading music easier, faster, and more fun?

Well, my goal is to help you achieve just that. Reading music is like a skill, and just like reading words in your language, you can get super fluent at it with enough time and practice.

You do this in the following ways:

  • Learning all the facets of reading music quickly, including the staff, pitch names, rhythm, time and key signatures, as well as common sheet music markings. I have a unique and super effective method to learn all of these (I’ve had dozens of students get it in just a lesson or 2).
  • Use exercises to identify pitches on the staff immediately, as well as all rhythms immediately.
  • I can provide cool resources for you including digital practice apps and help you make progress at this each week. At this point, much of the trouble of reading music is forgotten, as you will no longer spend all that time deciphering notes and rhythms. 
  • Combine knowledge of music theory to see larger pieces of complex musical information, and get away from note-by-note and line-by-line reading. You will be able to read keys, intervals, scales, blocks of chords (if you play a chordal instrument), and many common musical patterns and shapes.
  • Learn and practice advanced sight-reading techniques. These are techniques used by great music readers to play music immediately. Even if they have never seen or heard the music before, they analyze the music looking for the right information they need. I give you the tools to practice this so you can rid yourself of music reading difficulties for good.

 


Check out all the info related to your interests on the site, and if you’re ready for some awesome, custom-tailored lessons to your goals and your musical tastes, then feel free to contact me and sign up.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you thought!

Daine Jordan

@D_pianowps

@D_pianowps

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I’ve been playing piano professionally for over a decade and helping students of all levels compose and play with complete freedom.

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