You know, there’s much more to playing music than learning scales and chops. There’s a whole other side to playing the music that’s in your mind and your heart. As a musician, if you create your own personal development plans and follow them, you’ll be able to do much more than you every believed you could.
This is first and foremost. You probably don’t remember, but one year ago today, you didn’t play nearly as well as you do now. You also hadn’t heard some of the music that’s influenced your playing. There were ideas out there in the universe that you couldn’t have even imagined one year ago today.
So, where would you like to be next year on this day? Nobody ever gets anywhere without setting goals. Decide what it is you’d like to achieve in the next year, and then take the steps you need to achieve it.
But, don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. This is a real confidence killer. “I want to become proficient in six more orchestral instruments in the next year.” Whoah, put on the breaks a minute! Think about what you realistically can do; take steps toward your goal, and each step along the way will be joyous and inspiring. You can do what you want, but some things take longer than others.
Keep an Open Mind
Every musician has a subconscious checklist. This checklist says, “I am this” and “I am that.” It also says, “I can do this” and “I can’t do that.”
Everybody can benefit from exploration. Get out and check out new music you’ve never heard before. If you’re a jazz player, get some hip hop records. What do you like and what don’t you like about them? What is similar and what is different? You’d be surprised how different styles of music mesh together into something else. Don’t restrict yourself.
If you’re a classical musician, go the library and check out some CDs of music from some other part of the world. If at first, it sounds jarring, give it a good listen. Maybe you can bring something unique to your music from a faraway place.
Turn Mistakes Into Learning Opportunities
One thing that holds everybody back, musician or otherwise, is focusing on failure. Regret is a terrible thing. When you make a mistake, reflect on it. Think about what went wrong and how you can make it go better next time.
This is especially important with your performances. When you have a bad show, you just want to go somewhere alone and stew about it. You might want to give the whole thing up and get an office job. But, it’s really important not to think about it that way.
Whether you have a good performance or a bad performance, reflect. Think about what went well, and what went badly. What got the most audience response, and what could you maybe skip next time. This is all part of honing our performance skills.
Relax and Have Fun
Every performer has a certain mental zone that he or she gets into before the big show. This helps them play at their best and always give a good performance.
Even after years of performing experience, many people are nervous onstage. In interviews, professional musicians often say that this is the case. Everyone needs their own technique for relaxing before the show. If you’re nervous, you just won’t get your best results.
For example, when you play, imagine that you are in your room practising. In your room, you want to do your personal best for yourself. If you fudge a note, it’s YOU that has to listen to it. Imagine that you’re back there in your room, and do your best for yourself.
Chops Aren’t Everything
Finally, the technique isn’t everything. It’s just a tool that helps you realize the sounds you hear in your head. Remember that heart, energy and soul are just as important.
We all play to the beat of a different drum, so find out what works best for you, and make that your personal development plan. In the words of the Beatles, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done…”