When it comes to pursuing music, there are the day-to-day things we focus on as musicians and then there are our bigger goals and habits we often forget to think about. The start of a new year is a great time to take a step back from what we’re doing in music and look at some of the broader things we could be doing better. If you’re a serious musician, no recommended habit on this list will come as a surprise, but they’re good to incorporate into your musical routine if you’re not already doing so. Making these five habits a regular part of your life as a musician will help keep you healthier, more creative, and more proficient as a musician this year.
Sticking to a weekly practice schedule
You might live for music, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be in the mood to practice necessarily. Creating a weekly practice schedule and actually sticking to it takes quite a bit of discipline, but what this habit gives you as a musician is priceless. Practicing regularly during the week ensures you’ll have enough time to work towards your musical goals in a meaningful way and that you’ll stay active and engaged as a musician. Akin to forcing yourself to work out when you don’t feel up for it, regular practice will have a profound impact on your musicianship in less time than you might think.
Practicing with a metronome
Ah, the metronome. Beloved by some musicians, loathed by others, but needed by all. It’s easy to forget that rhythm is the glue that binds music together. Without it, musical ideas are much harder to follow and make sense of. No matter who you are and what your goals are as a musician, your work will suffer if your sense of rhythm and ability to perform in time is lacking. By making practice with a metronome a regular habit and part of your musical life, you’ll beef up your rhythm playing in a crucial way.
Starting rehearsals and performances in tune
Depending on who you are as a musician and what sort of instrument you play, tuning might not be a regular part of your routine. However, it should be. Playing out of tune makes practicing harder than it needs to be and has the potential to spoil recordings and performances. Today’s tuners are so precise and easy to use that there’s really no excuse for being out of tune during important performance settings. From foot pedal tuners for guitarists to metronome/tuner combination devices for every musician, it’s easy and important to stay in tune this year.
Making time for music creation and improvisation
Music creation and improvisation aren’t just important for songwriters, but for every musician. Creative problem-solving and innovation gives us more confidence on our instruments and a broader musical perspective. Taking time out of your day to improvise or write a song might seem like the last thing you should do if you’re a professional studio musician or music educator, but you’d be surprised how much you’ll grow in your understanding of music if you actually do. Between music notation software and DAWs (digital audio workstations), it’s easy to create and explore music creation and improvisation using your computer.
Protecting and preserving your hearing
Some musicians might be tempted to ignore this last recommended musical habit, but they shouldn’t. The hearing you have at this very moment will have to last you the rest of your life. Neglect your hearing health, and you’ll run the risk of irreversibly damaging your ears and musical career along with them. Common sense advice applies here, like wearing ear protection if you’re practicing with a loud band and listening to music at a healthy volume, especially if music is a part of your daily life as a songwriter or performer.
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