It’s a bit of a tough question, but one that I get asked a lot: What should we work on to become the best musicians possible?
There are an INCREDIBLE amount of things that I could answer this question with, and these things could also vary greatly depending on what type of musician someone is trying to be. To be honest, I’m often tempted to try and avoid the question completely, but it’s asked so frequently it’s something to consider.
I think no matter how hard you try, there’s no real way to avoid answering this without then immediately thinking of new things to add. There’s also no real way to make it into a one-size fits all answer. So, I decided to think about things in three categories that can cover a wide array of ideas and styles. They’re pretty broad (because they have to be) but I think going back to these can give you a good grounding of what to work on.
Technique: You can read my blog on what makes “good” technique here. This is an extremely broad category, but a good thing to think about during a practice session. What techniques are necessary for me to get to where I want to be, and how good am I at those techniques? Maybe speed is very important for the style of music you’re interested in. Maybe sight reading is important for the gigs you’re trying to get. Maybe you need to work on your songwriting skills. Whenever I go to practice, I think about what techniques are most important for the goals I’m trying to accomplish, prioritize, and get to work. This really helps keep you grounded and progressing.
Again, this doesn’t have to be technique in the traditional sense as far as scale running and metronome workouts (though these never hurt). Think about what techniques are most important for your goals, and don’t let your game slip on them.
Tone: Good tone is also extremely subjective, but something you need to think about. What sort of sound are you trying to achieve? How can you start achieving that sound more consistently? As a guitarist, something I always have to remind myself is that yes, a big part of my tone can come from buying new pedals and amps, but everyone should remember that tone really comes from your fingertips. There are different types of tones you may want to get into your arsenal as well, so don’t just dedicate yourself to one.
Taste: To me, this is the most important thing to consider as a musician. You may have the world’s greatest tone, and a wide array of perfected techniques, but if you can’t do anything musical with it to express yourself and move people, than those other two don’t really matter. I think this can be one of the easiest things for a practicing musician to lose sight of, even though this is the most important thing of all. We can get stuck in a rut trying to move up the BPM on our metronome, or trying to perfect the absolute perfect sound, but at the end of the day we have to learn how to use these sounds in an expressive way. I think the only real way to do this is to put yourself out there. Try and express yourself and see if your point is getting across, whatever that point may be. If you feel like your falling a little short, just keep tweaking. Keep working on all 3 of these Ts and see what art you can make with it.
Anything you’d like to add? Leave a comment below!
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Falls Music School