When we learn a song or an instrument, we sometimes tend to overlook simple but important details due to ease and ignorance. And yet, these little details can be extremely useful. Here’s a lengthy list of little details that will help you improve.
Athletes warm up their muscles, therefore, musicians and singers should too. If you’re a singer even some simple vocalizations and ranges can suffice. Musician? Try stretching exercises to stimulate blood circulation and chromaticism, to facilitate the flexibility of your fingers.
Sing or speak while playing
This will help you to let go, get in a game-like set of mind and allow you to better anticipate notes, phrases and the movement of your hands.
Daily practice, however little, can be much more beneficial than one intensive session.
A metronome is your friend
Admittedly, this isn’t your must chummy of friends. Metronomes are rigorous, unyielding and don’t allow for improvisation. But like good friends, they are constant and useful. With the help of one, you will learn to accentuate the beat and test your accuracy at varying speeds.
Chart a program
Before each practice session, set a goal and stick to it. Doing so will help you to not waste time on what you already know and master. It will also leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.
A small recorder even your phone will do as hearing what you’re doing is the best way to spot mistakes.
You likely practice your instrument sitting down because it is easy and comfortable. But if your long-term goal is to play in public, get in the habit of playing standing up as your hand position will differ.
Change it up
Binary tempo is easy and most natural, but in order to progress you need to push your limits. Break your habits and try 7/8, 5/4, 3/3 and the likes.
Play with others
Tempo, placement, projection… Everything is different when you play with others!
Know your notes and scales
This may seem daunting, but once you’ve learned them they become instinctive and will become a step towards improvising.
Don’t forget your pinkie finger!
Your little finger is perhaps the least flexible and most difficult finger muscle to build, but the pinkie is useful as it allows for extending between a maximum of notes for difficult chords. Don’t hesitate to use it!
Maintain your instrument
Clean it regularly, change any elements that suffer from overuse or wear and tear (for example, the strings of your bass or guitar before they oxidize) and don’t forget to invest in proper cleaning products.
Play or sing over another piece
Reproducing what you hear or acting as a counter voice or chorus are all excellent exercises.