So, you have started playing an instrument or studying voice, and you have decided that you want to be a good musician. What does it take to become a good musician? Do you have what it takes to get there, and do you have what you need? You need these things to become a good musician. Keep reading, and I will tell you seven essential things you need to become a good musician. (And one thing you don’t need!)
You Need a Decent Instrument
A decent instrument is a requirement for becoming a good musician. Now, I DO NOT advocate spending thousands of dollars on an instrument for a beginner or young player, but still, you need a decent instrument. What qualifies as a good instrument?
- Your instrument must be in good working order – keys, pads, valves, triggers, slides, etc.
- You need an instrument that can play in tune with itself, and that can be tuned.
- Your instrument should be the right size for you (primarily for string instruments).
You Need a Reliable Music Stand
Unless you are a keyboard player, you need a reliable music stand. Why a music stand? You need somewhere to place your music to easily see and read that music while at the same time maintaining good posture. Putting your music on your bed and then turning sideways and bending over to read that music will not help you become a good musician!
A sturdy and adjustable music stand will help you position your music where you can easily read it and maintain a good playing position and posture. Nothing is more frustrating than having your music always falling off your stand! Here are a couple of tips to prevent that from happening:
- Use clothespins (or long plastic clips) to clip your music to your stand
- Place your music (or copies of it) in clear plastic sheet protectors and put them in a notebook.
You Need Light to See your Music
Good lighting is essential for many tasks, and practicing your music is no exception! Practice with plenty of good lighting to easily see and read the music on the page. And if you can see your music well, you can maintain a better posture for playing and breathing. Good lighting will also help you avoid mistakes in playing.
You Need a Good Instructor
I know you can find many “How to Play…” videos on YouTube today. And while those might get you started on an instrument or give you some ideas about playing, those videos can never take the place of a personal instructor! A video does not provide feedback about fingering, embouchure, articulation, tone production, posture, musicianship, etc. Even virtual lessons are better than video instruction! While in-person instruction is best, virtual lessons can be effective as well. (See here for information about the virtual lessons I offer.)
A good instructor will work with you to correct mistakes, be sure you understand technique and fingering, and perfect your posture. Your teacher should also work with you on musicianship and tone quality. And, perhaps most importantly, a quality instructor will teach you how to practice effectively!
You Need Music
It seems obvious that you need music to learn to play, right? Of course, you need music! And yes, you can go to the internet and print out all kinds of music. But you need music chosen to lead you through what you need to learn to progress to better musicianship. Your music should start where you are and gradually introduce you to new concepts and techniques as you learn and build your skills and abilities. Your music should be both enjoyable and challenging. If you only play easy music, you will never get better. If you choose “hard” music as a challenge, you may not have the skills necessary to learn that music. So, your instructor should lead you to and through music to help you grow your abilities.
You Need Dedication
Becoming a good musician does not happen overnight. Or even over a month or a year! If you want to be a good musician, you need to dedicate yourself to working on your music for a long time. Like, years! Just like anything else, becoming a good musician takes a long time. Think about your favorite athlete. When did that person start working on their sport? Consider all the after-school practices that athletes endured. How many sports camps or sports lessons did he attend? A musician is no different. It takes a long time to develop all the necessary skills and techniques to be a good musician. Please don’t give up on your music because it takes a long time!
You Need to Practice
Learning music does not just happen; you must practice! Anything worth doing takes practice to develop your skills! And don’t miss this: Practice is more than just playing things over again. Practicing means finding problems and working them out until they are no longer problems. Practicing also means looking for ways to play a piece or a passage better, make it sound better, and make it more beautiful. Never forget this – practice requires listening! If you don’t hear a problem, how will you correct it?
You need all these things to become a good musician. But, here is one thing you don’t need!
You DO NOT Need Natural Talent
Get this straight: Natural talent is the least important thing in becoming a good musician! Sure, you may not become the world’s best or most famous musician, but if you work hard, practice diligently, and keep at it, you can be a good musician. Hard work, practice time, effort, diligence, and even more practice time are the essential ingredients for becoming a good musician. Think about those amazing musicians you have heard perform. Most of what you hear is because of hard work and diligent practice! You can do that!
Now that you know you need these things to become a good musician, what will you do about it? Go forth and practice! Put in some diligent practice time and effort on your instrument. Work at the skills that will make you a better musician. Always look for progress, and always strive to get better! You can do this!
Let me know in the comment section what music you are currently working on. I’d love to hear from you.
Looking for more info on music lessons? Check these out: