There will never be a universally shared idea of what makes a good musician. Even if you throw genre and style to the wayside, there are still different things that make every music fan tick. Whether that is ludicrously-long nine-note jazz chords, tear-jerking lyricism, or filthy riffs, there will never be any pleasing everyone – and therein lies the first tip on how to become a better musician; be original. It’s not like there is a mainstream anymore. Instead, there are a million different niche tributaries to dip your toe in and find your sonic tribe.
If you truly want to learn how to become a better musician, you will first have to consider the ultimate aim of music. Which is to express emotion, convey information, and bring meaning to the listener. By working on your ability to do that, you will instantly become a better musician.
In the 21st-century, it is easy to confuse the original aim of music with the desire to climb up the billboard charts, sell thousands of albums and sell out stadiums. That is not to say that having optimistic goals is a bad thing, but it does highlight a very real issue – the narcissism that has worked its way into the music industry through the artists that are less concerned about writing great music and more concerned about how it will feel to go viral.
How to Become a Better Musician
- Seek Internal Validation as Much as External Validation
Bringing mindful self-awareness to the evaluation of your music can work wonders. We are all our own worst critics, but we don’t have to be. When you listen to your music or read your lyrics, don’t just look for the mistakes; look for what works and where you excel. By giving yourself credit where credit is due, you’ll take some of the sting out of taking your blinders off to your aural shortcomings. Acknowledging the flaws may be painful at first, but it is all part of honing in on your talent. After all, that is exactly why you are reading this article.
- Mark Your Progress
Most of us work best when we feel pressure from a deadline or are working towards a goal. This can easily be applied to bettering yourself as an artist by setting long-term and short-term goals. The goals can be habitual such as dedicating 30 minutes every day to practising, or they can be a roadmap to your in-progress projects. When you achieve realistic goals, you will feel infinitely better about the accomplishment than if you just arrived at it haphazardly.
- Stop Looking for Shortcuts
It is one of the most insidious lies ever told that talent is something that belongs only to the gifted and not the artists that have callouses crawling across their fingertips from hours of practice.
Even practice makes perfect is a bit of a red herring adage; perfection doesn’t exist, and certainly not in the context of music. There’s a certain beauty in the fallible nature of our artistry. It’s not always the pitch-perfect voices that make us feel the most; it’s not always the rock virtuoso that carves jaw-dropping hooks; it’s not always the 21st-century Shakespeare that can write a lyric that will be tattooed on bodies the world over. So, give yourself a break if you hit a dead note now and again.
- See Yourself as an Instrument
Just as instruments need to be re-stringed, serviced and maintained, artists must give themselves the same care and consideration. What is more instrumental to the orchestration of music than the minds it comes from? There is no use in pouring from an uninspired intellect-less cup if you’re trying to win over an audience, but the good news is that there is almost an infinite amount of ways to soak up culture, intellect and inspiration.
Understanding our material reality, the constructs it contains, and the varying phenomena that can become parables for emotions and life experiences is one of the best ways to improve as a musician. Immerse yourself in what inspires you, find your philosophical standpoint, and always be aware of what you’re putting into the world through your music. Now, more than ever, music fans are crying out for artists that speak for them.
If you are looking for more insight and information on how to improve as a musician, consider our music artist development services that are engineered to help newly emerging artists find their feet in the industry and play to their unique strengths.