How to Become a Professional Musician

It takes time and much dedication to master a musical instrument. Those who dream of becoming a professional musician must not only learn to play an instrument, but they must also have the confidence to perform in front of a live audience. If you think you have the talent and passion to make it, find out how to become a musician.

Pick an Instrument

The first thing you must do is select an instrument; one that you’ve always thoroughly enjoyed. It’s important to note that some instruments can take longer to master than others, and the speed of your success will often come down to how much time you are willing to dedicate to practicing.

For example, it may take between three to six months to learn how to play easy songs on the guitar, but anything more technical will take much longer. While it’s believed you will only be able to play three songs on the piano within your first year, practicing for 30 minutes every day, if it’s an instrument you love, you’re more likely to practice more and progress faster. If you start one instrument, but you find it too difficult for the time being, don’t fret. You can, for instance, temporarily trade in your guitar for a ukulele, and then once you’ve improved your chord capabilities and overall rhythm, you can return to your guitar a better musician.

Take Lessons

Of course, you can speed up the learning process by taking lessons from experienced musicians themselves. Private teachers can help budding musicians iron out their mistakes at a quicker rate than if you were self-taught; they can also halt any bad habits before they become too troublesome. For example, they can teach you about pace, posture, and positioning, which you can also practice in your spare time. Younger musicians may also benefit from attending recitals, or joining the school band, as it will encourage them to practice on a regular basis.

Invest in the Right Accessories

Accessories can make a big difference to your performance. For example, an uncomfortable seat can distract a pianist from a composition, while personalized guitar straps will make the instrument feel comfortable in your hand, so you’ll both look and feel like a professional. Also, by investing in your talent, you’re showing that you believe in yourself and your capabilities.

Record Yourself

Identify your strengths and weaknesses when playing an instrument by recording yourself. Listen to the original piece first, and then playback your recording to spot any differences. Listening carefully will allow you to recognize when you played the music too early or too late, so you might need to slow down or speed up.

Don’t Speed Through Steps

Many aspiring musicians make the big mistake of speeding their way through steps to move onto the next one. Unfortunately, their lack of patience will be reflected in their performance. Stop focusing on the future when learning an instrument and aim to master each step before you move onto the next one. If you do, you will have strong foundations you can then build upon. If you’re superficial in your learning, then progression will be more difficult; it can even stop you from progressing any further.

Set Yourself Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals will give you a target to work towards, so you will be more likely to pick up an instrument and start practicing. For example, you could give yourself a target of mastering a scale in a single practice, or mastering a song in one week. Every time you tick off a goal, you will feel a great sense of achievement, and you’ll also develop your skillset. So, the more goals you complete, the more confident you will be in your ability, and you’ll be a better musician for it.

Have Patience

It’s almost impossible to become a virtuoso overnight. That’s why you must have patience when learning to master the piano, guitar, violin, or another complex instrument. There will be times when you will hit a wall, but don’t panic or become frustrated, as constant practice will always help you to progress. You can trust all the hard work and effort will be worth it, you just need to keep your frustrations at bay and keep moving forwards.

Keep Practice Fun

The technical elements of learning an instrument can become monotonous at times, especially at the beginning while you’re learning the basics. Yet, you should try to keep every practice session as fun as possible to embrace your passion. For example, you could learn your favorite songs, and you could work on different melodies between your routine exercises. The last thing you will want is for learning techniques and songs to become a chore, so ensure it is an enjoyable experience.

Start Jamming

Regardless of whether you’re a rookie or a pro, few things are more enjoyable than a friendly jamming session with friends. Playing in a group will not only allow you to practice an instrument, but you can also pick up tips on how to improve your technique, timing and performance skills. What’s more, other budding or experienced musicians can provide you with honest feedback, which will only help you to become a better musician.

Learn Scales

If you are going to start jamming with friends, you must be able to identify the key the group will be playing in. Unless you’re a drummer, you will need to learn scales, which will ensure you stay in key as you jam with other musicians. Try to learn as many scales as possible, as the more you know, the easier it will be to remain in key and improvise on the track, so you’ll complement other musicians rather than detracting from the overall sound.

Take Advantage of Online Resources

Speed up the learning process by taking advantage of the many free resources available online to help you improve your technique and learn new songs. Not only can you take your pick of thousands of chord charts, sheet music and tablatures, but you can also watch “how to” videos so you can perfect your performance.

Push Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone

Don’t be afraid to regularly push yourself outside of your comfort zone. It’s common for aspiring musicians to stick with the songs and techniques they know, as they are too afraid to challenge themselves; it’s also easy to become nervous when playing in front of people for the first time. You should, however, push yourself and try to break through your shy exterior. Do not be afraid to be wrong, even Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix would have slipped up every once in a while, even once they were deemed musical legends!

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