In this industry, there’s always more to learn. No matter how big you get, don’t forget the basics! If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or just want to level up, here are 7 classic methods for growing as an artist and becoming the best you can be. Let’s dive in…
7 Ways To Become a Better Musician
The biggest thing that can hold you back as an artist in any field is the inability to accept criticism. Sometimes it can be hard to hear that your biggest passion project is lacking something. Whether it be something major or even the tiniest tweak, it can sting a little for anyone to hear. But even if you disagree, it doesn’t hurt to hear them out. It’s easy to get lost in the process and fall so in love with a project that it’s almost painful to hear anything negative about it, but that being open to that alternative outside view is one of the best ways to create something truly masterful.
Nobody is perfect, and accepting that fact is the ultimate hack to becoming your best self, musically and otherwise.
Practice Every Day
This one’s a no brainer, but I do have a point. When you practice an instrument every day, (whether that’s guitar, drums, music production, or your own voice, etc.) you’re going to see noticeable improvements. The same goes for waking up early, hitting the studio at the same time every day, training your musical ear, writing lyrics, and everything that comes along with being an artist. Having a routine and sticking to it makes everything easier.
Keep in mind… it’s not that the tasks themselves are easier, it’s that you’re getting that much better at them and it’s just easier for YOU to do them. Over time, you’ll look back and be proud of how far you’ve come. Just treat everything you do like a muscle. Nourish it every day, and it will grow stronger.
Learn Music Theory
Music theory is a beautiful language of its own. It gives you the magical understanding of the structure behind every musical composition and helps you speak with other musicians in a common tongue. It’s a common misconception that music theory limits creativity… It’s the total opposite!
Think of it this way, if you’re collaborating with another artist on a new song and they hear a rogue note clashing with part of the vocals, instead of trying to find what note it was for 20 minutes, they can call it out right away and you’ll know exactly what they’re referring to. If the bass is a step too low in one section, it’ll speed up the creative process to know what that means and how to fix it. Not to mention if you plan to collaborate with someone big like Tiësto or Beyoncé, you’re going to feel like a noob by not knowing what a D minor sounds like.
Even teaching yourself the basics will give you a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t in music and improve the quality of your work exponentially. At the end of the day, knowledge is power.
Set Realistic Goals
When it comes to your music career, your goals need to be realistic and specific. You should be able to quantifiably measure their success as you work towards them, and be able to adjust your process as you go along. Many pros around the world use the S.M.A.R.T method, which breaks down to: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. (We did a whole post about how to use this method and all it’s benefits right here.)
Let’s face it, many people overestimate what they’ll be able to accomplish in a short amount of time and doing so causes some major (and unnecessary) headaches when things don’t go exactly to plan. That’s why giving yourself a reasonable plan you can actually accomplish without ripping your hair out can make or break your success. — Just be honest with yourself. If you’ve never played a show before, the odds of you booking a world tour in a year may not be in the cards. What could be, however, is to start your first local run of shows in select cities.
Prioritize Mental Health
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, how old you are, or how much you have on your plate, this industry can be overwhelming. With so much on your plate, it’s easy to overlook your mental health and find yourself unsure of how to get back on track. At the end of the day, practicing healthy habits is just as important as sharpening your musical skills. Without a healthy balance, everything can fall apart just as fast as it came.
Collaborate with Other Musicians
Playing with others not only exposes you to different musical perspectives, but also challenges you to adapt to different playing styles. You can start locally with other musicians within your community by reaching out via DM’s on socials, making connections at live events, or just working with your musical friends.
If you want to expand even further, don’t let distance hold you back. Tools like Splice and Vocalizr let you collaborate from the comfort of your own home with artists from all over the world. We also did a whole post right here on some of the best online collaboration tools on the market to help you out.
Being a musician is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs in the world. It can also be incredibly stressful with what feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders. As you progress throughout your career, it’s up to you to commit as much time as you can to growing your skills, learning from your experiences, and taking in as much as you can from those around you. With these tips, you’re on your way to becoming the best you can be.