Learning how to play music can be tricky. But by following these tips, you’ll be able to master playing your favorite songs in no time at all and become a better musician for it. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Learn From Someone
When you have someone to explain and help you learn and memorize music, you’ll start to gain knowledge and confidence, allowing you to take faster steps towards achieving your goal. This is, of course, once you get past the initial embarrassment of playing in front of someone and having them point out your mistakes.
So, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can take music lessons, ask your friend who plays guitar or whatever musical instrument you play to help, or even watch video tutorials for the piece or song you want to learn.
Learn to Read Music
Most people want to learn and play music without knowing how to read sheet music. While some people can get by without sheet music, not everyone is fortunate enough to have the perfect pitch, hit the right note, or play by ear.
As such, knowing how to sight-read sheet music is an excellent advantage to anyone who wants to play a piece. Not only will you know which note to play, but you’ll also know the rhythm and the structure of the whole piece.
Practice the Basics
Knowing and mastering the basics can save you so much trouble and time when you study music. Unfortunately, numerous people ignore the basics because they want to learn the fun and exciting parts but quit because it’s too difficult.
However, when you know the basics, you’ll be able to breathe through most sections, with only a few bars representing a challenge. Most people can work and push through a challenging note, technique, or stage here and there without losing hope. But they can’t keep practicing if the project seems impossible from the start.
So, learn your scales, arpeggios, and the proper fingerings. Then, practice them repeatedly. This way, when you encounter them in a piece of music, you’ll know what to do without batting an eyelash.
Listen to the Piece
When you’ve got a new score in front of you that you’ve never seen before, it can take you a while until you figure out what the piece is supposed to sound like. For example, is it fast, slow, exciting, mellow, smooth, or jumpy?
When that happens, a recording of the piece played by a beloved musician can be of great assistance to you. It can give you a general overview and sense of the music and allow you to spot any mistakes you were unaware of.
Nevertheless, some people dislike listening to recordings because it can affect a musician’s interpretation. Still, taking notes while listening to a new piece is a highly effective learning strategy that can allow you to quickly grasp the feel of the song and see the big picture.
Break It Down
To learn a piece of music, you have to look at all its different elements before performing it. Anyone can play a melody, but only some play actual music. Numerous things make up a piece, from the dynamics and tempo to the musical nuances and articulation.
So, see if the piece starts with a bass or treble clef. Then, go along sight-reading all the notes in one go and try to sound it out in your head. Look at the time and key signature as well as any critical notes written by the composer. Afterward, begin playing the notes one by one until you’ve reached the end.
Practice playing with one hand, then the other, then both together (if you’re learning to play piano o). Counting the beat will help and playing it slowly, then speeding it up. Don’t forget to take notes, look up any words or signs you don’t understand, and check out a cheat sheet if possible.
After all, learning is a continuous process. And we’ll always be students with something new to learn, so don’t be frustrated that you don’t know everything.
Finally, divide the piece of music into sections, and work through each section till you master it. Then, move on to the next and so forth. When you divide the piece into manageable parts, you feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish practicing one of them. This, in turn, makes you excited and more eager to learn and practice the next one until you can play the whole piece.
Learn the Piece Backwards
This technique is quite effective if you need to learn and memorize music fast. It’s based on the idea that when we start memorizing a piece of new music, we only remember the initial parts and struggle with the later ones because we keep repeating the beginning.
Since the most problematic phrases usually come towards the end, you can only become familiar with them if you practice them a lot.
And once you memorize a section you were struggling with, you move on to the one before it until you reach the easiest parts in the beginning. This way, you’ll practice the whole piece, dedicating equal time to each phrase. Otherwise, you’d focus solely on the opening.
Moreover, you’ll find that you’ve saved yourself quite a lot of time and frustration, as you’ll only practice and repeat the key areas. With time, you’ll memorize the song/piece to the point where you’d be able to play it from memory with no difficulty.
Put It All Together
New things that still need more practice pop up after you’ve finally managed to play each phrase with all its tribulations and difficulties and started to put the pieces of the music together.
For example, the issue can be a difficult transition due to tricky jumps or an awkward sequence of fingers. And maybe your breathing needs adjustment (regarding wind players) or other things along those lines.
Add the Finishing Touches
Once you’ve finally got the technicality down, you can start thinking about the musicality. So, contemplate the context of the piece and its meaning. Many musicians forget about this part and only focus on getting the notes and tempo right. But with no musicality and soul, you might as well just listen to a robot playing.
Keep on Practicing
The most important thing is practice, practice, and guess what? More practice. No musician, no matter how talented, can get very far without practicing. So, make it a point to practice every day and put in the required hours. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck at the same level and never improve.
As you go along, pay attention to which practice techniques and strategies suit you. For instance, is it slow practice, repetition, or chaining? So, you need to discover which strategy works for you, add discipline, and remember to self-evaluate if you don’t have a teacher.
Also, a pretty simple way of evaluating yourself is to pretend you’re playing in front of an audience, then record multiple videos. Once you see and hear your playing, you’ll notice the problem areas, which can make all the difference in your playing.
Take a Break
Also, recognize when you need a break so that you don’t get burned out. Nothing beats hard work, but it can come at a cost. In other words, knowing when to rest is also a skill that will make a difference in the long run and allow you to develop as a musician, especially if you’ve got a career in music.
Set a Goal
Don’t stress yourself, but set a goal to motivate you and get you to make actual progress. If you don’t have an end goal, you’ll start procrastinating. So, tell yourself that you’ll be finishing this piece in a set number of days or performing it in front of an audience.
Learning to play an instrument, especially as an adult, can be very difficult, as you’ve probably got a job and other obligations to fulfill first. So, keep your responsibilities in mind, and create a practice schedule in accordance.
Learn Music Theory
Start learning music theory. Yes, music theory can be intimidating, but it’s very handy and can make your musical journey much shorter.
Knowing the scales and chords of every letter of the musical alphabet can help you quickly learn and analyze any song and piece. Studying intervals and how to play a major or a minor chord allows you to write and play better music.
So, study the circle of fifths, chord types, keys, and key signatures, and you’ll notice how music theory can cause a vast improvement in a matter of weeks.
Learning music quickly is possible, but like anything, it needs hard work. So learn to read, listen, and continuously practice the complex parts. And don’t let the only section causing you a headache put you off from learning and practicing your favorite songs.