Getting better at your musical instrument-of-choice only requires two things: mentoring and practice.
First, why practice? The reasons typically contain a combination of technique, muscle memory and familiarity with the instrument. For instruments that demand the separation of activity for both hands--accordion, drums piano and solo guitar--practicing is the only way to train your brain to do multiple activities at once. Even with the best mentor-ship, a lack of practice will stagnate your growth.
To win at practicing, adopt these strategies
1) If your instrument of choice is quiet enough to play indoors without bothering room-mates or neighbors, you have no excuse for not practicing everyday.
2) Leave the instrument out of it's case. When you are tired after a long day of work, even the act of opening a case can be too much to bear!
3) Make a rule that you practice before an essential activity. Maybe you won't allow yourself to eat breakfast or go to bed unless you've played the instrument first. Over time the rule becomes a habit, and we all know how hard it is to break a habit. Habits, by definition, take repetition to form. At a minimum, your skill-level will hold even or improve when you play a minimum of 15 minutes.
4) Authenticate your practice regimen by challenging your mentor. In a world where credentials carry little weight, many independent music teachers don't have what it takes to raise you to greatness. Work with your teacher and choose songs that are outside of your comfort zone. Pay attention to the advice, the confidence and watch for any red flags. Ask some of the other students how long they've been in the program and what they've learned. If you need better teachers, simply call Mantova's Two Street Music, at (707) 445-3155.
5) Adding to point #4; Don't rush into the song and create bad habits. Take it slow and learn the proper techniques.
6. Kill the bad habits. An improper hand position can lead to serious health problems. It's not a fun topic and you rarely find anyone talking about it, but improper hand position during years of practicing can lead to health issues that can require surgery, pain killers, etc. As we progress, bad habits can creep in as they typically give us a shortcut to fulfilling the song. While even famous people sometimes employ these shortcuts, the bad habit will often pose a problem later down the road. Expect your bad habits to keep you from better articulation of notes and phrases, developing speed and reading proficiently. If you are playing something new and feel pain, then ask your teacher for guidance.
7. Join a community band. Staying sociable is a great way to reinforce practicing. If your community band has a spring concert, then you have a deadline to master the material. Deadlines get results. Your local music store could have some ideas. If you anywhere near Eureka, CA, then we would be happy to help with the search.
8. If community bands are too formal, you can always find a club. Be careful though, clubs are often more fun-based than effort focused, you might find yourself getting easily distracted and not suitably challenged to get great!
To talk about music lesson options, take a moment and contact Mantova's Two Street Music. Hit us up on our Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Google Plus pages!