The Playground

The Simply Music blog

Fresh Perspectives for a New Year

Found in: Coaching

practice perspectives

Maybe you’re not the type of person for new year’s resolutions. I mean, wasn’t 2015 crazy enough without trying to do even more with yourself? That said, generating a fresh perspective from time to time can make those inevitable valleys and plateaus look a little greener. So perhaps there are ways you can enliven your music experience without adding to the mountain of commitments.

Listen to music

I’m fascinated by the number of people I know who don’t listen to a lot of music. Maybe they are thinking of fully-focused close listening, which can be a profoundly rewarding experience, but you can also learn a lot and enjoy music listening at times when you’re doing something that doesn’t take too much attention, like when out walking, or while doing the housework (it’s amazing how much fun dusting can be when done to some driving latin jazz or 70’s Afrobeat). See if you can identify times where you’re doing something that leaves space to be conscious of the music – although please remember to look both ways before crossing the street!  For that fresh perspective, seek out musical styles you don’t know much about.

Check out more live music

If you already go to plenty of concerts, try something of a different style than you usually choose. Really reflect on what you enjoy about it. If you’re with companions, discuss what you liked about it.

Practice smarter

Perhaps this year is the year of getting the most from your time.  By applying best principles, you can get a whole lot more value from the same amount of practice time.

Improvise more

When most people think of improvisation, they imagine some jazz virtuoso burning up the keys, but that’s just one, very high, level – improvisation at a simpler level is everywhere. Every time you talk, you improvise, so you know you can do it. Start really simple and be easy on yourself. I advise my students to begin each practice session with some basic improv. Many’s the time they have reported getting so caught up that they run out of time for anything else!

Find someone else to play with

Your Simply Music teacher might often nag you about playing with others, so why not humour her?  Again, you can start really simple – find someone else at your level (perhaps a classmate if you’re in a Simply Music shared lesson) and try to put together something, however basic – maybe you playing the accompaniment and your partner playing the melody to a simple song. The learning benefits of simply working together will equal the musical rewards.

Share your learning

Why not try to teach others something you can play? You’ll discover that it will deepen your understanding of the learning process. And how about sharing the learning experience itself by starting a study group? That could be as simple as getting together with others in your shared class, or asking your teacher if he can hook you up with another student or two at a similar level. You can share the processing of new projects, get feedback on your playing, and practice performing in a supportive environment. You could do all this once a week in place of a regular practice session, minimising any extra time commitment.