Ditch the metronome
Use something more fun instead! Practicing with a metronome is the most important thing you can do… but why? Playing with a steady beat is the foundation of good technique, but it’s 2016, so it’s time to crank it up a notch. We live in a world where you can get free online drum beats in any style at any time. Keep that metronome on your music stand… but give yourself a break from the click and turn it into a drum beat!
Switch up your practice space
I practice in my small home office. It’s great, because no one can hear the hundreds of wrong notes I play. But if you stop and think about why most people become musicians you’ll hear the old “I didn’t want to get stuck behind the same desk every day,” so why do that to your practice routine? Performing is all about adapting to new situations, so give yourself that experience while you practice! Practice outside, practice in the stairway and let’s be honest… if you’re a vocalist and you’re not practicing in the shower, you’re really missing the point of showering.
Get yourself a practice circle
Ever notice how all great musicians seem to know a lot of other great musicians? While I think it’s fun to pretend that they get famous, and then receive the “I’m Famous Now” contact list, the truth of the matter is that most of these musicians spent YEARS playing in the same circles together. You see this a lot with songwriters, they gig together for years and blow up at the same time. That community connection of musicians is what drives them all to succeed. So find some like minded musicians who want to get better, and make some plans to play music together!
Try a new genre
Ever listen to bluegrass music? It’s simple, there’s only three chords in most of the songs! Or at least that’s what I thought/said for YEARS. One day I was invited to a bluegrass jam. Years of jazz study did not prepare me for the absolute ferocity these ladies and gents pick with, not to mention, I legitimately struggled to find a voice in the genre. After that I started to really practice and focus on my pick technique. I eventually fell in love with the music, but it was the new musical skill that got me hooked in the first place. Branch out, try something new! Even if you hate it, I can guarantee you’ll learn something new.
Set a performance goal
Let’s be honest, if you love practicing for the sake of practicing, every musician on Earth is jealous of you. Practicing to someday “be better” is not always inspiring motivation. Whether you’re a proficient player or beginner, a date on your calendar you need to prepare for will really up the ante. Odds are, there’s an open mic somewhere nearby you, so go check it out, and set a realistic goal! Think you can get up there in a few months?! Go for it! Remember making music is awesome, but getting out there and performing in front of others is what it’s all about.