1. Welcome feedback
Those that listen to you sing or play will be listening from another perspective and may be hearing something different to what you hear. In fact, they might hear something you’re not hearing at all. They may make suggestions in order to aid the context you’re working in. It’s important to welcome feedback, both for the bigger picture and to keep you learning and gaining experience personally. Besides, it might just be an awesome idea!
2. Maintain a teachable heart
It is important to remain teachable. No one ever finishes learning in their lifetime. You can always glean something from another person, even if it’s a lesson in attitude.
3. Surround yourself with people that have more experience
There are many people I look up to – both near and far. It’s a pretty simple thought, but it’s great to have that uncontrollable laughter when you see your favourite player or singer play something awesome – you learn things, especially when you have a close friendship with them. As a toddler, I can remember sitting behind a mentor as he played during a church service and it invested in me a type of experience that cannot be bought.
When you worship with your gift from a genuine heart, it impacts those around you and helps you lead. You may not even realise it at the time, but when you hand over your gift to the One that gave it to you, it opens a door for people to have a greater encounter with God!
Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Not everyone loves this word with gleeful passion, but there are always ways to make practice fun. How about bringing a friend along or learning a piece of music with someone? When others aren’t accessible, I like to grab ahold of a good quality play-along album of an artist I love, throw it in the iPod and play to it. The benefit of most play-along tracks is that you have three things – the click reference, a chart to read and the feeling of playing with real musicians. In turn, this helps with timing, reading music and feel/ groove. The play-alongs can be found at most music shops.
6. Find new ways of getting excited about your instrument
As mentioned previously, there are always ways to make your discipline exciting and not just something that you do for work or service. Find new ways to keep yourself passionate about your instrument. Be creative!
7. Read & listen
When listening to your favourite music, reading it (or about it) helps you understand how it was created and how it was written.
8. Find your voice
Once you’ve seen or heard how things are written or produced, try the same or similar things, and see if you can get the same or similar results. You may even find something that you love more! This helps develop your own musical voice, because you start to pick the aesthetic characteristics in the music you listen to that suit your personality – characteristics that suit you.
9. Get first-hand experience
Start playing! Organize some jams with the people you love. It develops confidence, along with feel/groove and unity.
10. Be generous
It’s important that we always fill ourselves up, but also that we pour ourselves back out. Be generous with your gift and your service! God works generationally, not just within the small frame of your life span. Those that you give back to inherit what you learnt/experienced, allowing God to work through more and more people.
// Harrison Wood