7 Laughably Simple Ways To Master Your Instrument, In Less Than 30 Minutes A Day


Are you tired of settling for where you’re currently at as a musician?

 

Whether you’re at the point in your playing where each week you’re holding your breath, hoping to make it through the worship set without a royal mess up or you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and feel like you could play the whole set in your sleep, there’s always room to get better at your instrument.

So today we’re giving you 7 incredibly simple things you can do that don’t take a lot of time, to put you on the track towards mastering your instrument!

 

1) Learn something fun & challenging that inspires you, regardless of the genre (and memorize it).

 

Here’s a few suggestions to get your wheels spinning…

– Open up your Spotify (Apple Music, TIDAL, etc.) and scroll through your recently added and favorite playlists in search of some songs with amazing parts that you could learn.

– Or maybe there’s an album that you used to listen to that really inspires you as a musician.

– You can even go back to the songs that you learned as a younger player & see if you’ve been playing them 100% accurately or not.

– Pick a musician that inspires you and learn their entire discography.

You might be asking, “How will learning these random songs help me be a better worship musician?”

Great musicians can take what they’ve heard in one genre/environment and repackage it. A lot of the time this is where “new sounds” come from. Someone hearing something in one space and then finding a new way to apply it. 

A big part of who we are as musicians is a compilation of all our influences mixed together with the things that we’ve explored/discovered on our own. So expand your influences, increase your vocabulary and musical identity.

Why memorize it? Simple – if you’ve memorized it, then it becomes a part of you that you can apply elsewhere. 

Enough said. Selah.

(to clarify…No, I’m not saying that you should play the Sweet Home Alabama intro in the place of the intro for This is Amazing Grace. Sorry, Ed!)

 

2) Don’t just learn the part, rebuild the sound too.

 

Electric guitar players aren’t the only musicians that need to focus on tone. In fact, in most cases, I would rather have someone on my team whose tone sounded good and can’t technically play as good as someone whose tone is trash.

Tone quality matters! Take Morgan Freeman for instance… 

Say he was doing a narration for a film and he still had the same inflections, talked with the same cadence and pauses, and all the other technical things that he does to speak the Morgan Freeman way BUT his voice sounded like Spongebob Square Pants. Do you think he would still have the same impact? ABSOLUTELY NOT! So much of the Morgan Freeman effect is the sound of his voice.

It’s his tone mixed with his technical skills that makes Morgan Freeman who he is as a performer.

As musicians, we can’t just settle for having the technical skills. We need to have the sound too.

A great way to grow in your ability to create great tones is by recreating other people’s sounds. 

This exercise trains your ear what to look for when creating a sound because you’re constantly referencing what you’re going after. It also helps you learn how to create different sounds that you can then apply in different settings.

If you’re just starting out, begin with referencing and tweaking presets. 

Scroll through and find a preset that is close to what you’re looking for and then start turning knobs. Listen to see if you can get the sound to head in the right direction. Remember, build with your ears not your eyes.

After gaining some confidence in tweaking presets, a fun challenge would be trying to get to the point where you’re able to do it all on your own without the need of someone else’s preset!

3) Record yourself

 

A fantastic way to know how you need to grow is by watching yourself. Obviously, you can’t do this in real time, so record yourself! With modern technology, pulling this off is incredibly easy. Use your phone & connect it & your in-ear mix to a device like the iRig Stream!

The principle here is: before you go out to get new tools, start by sharpening the ones you already have.

Analyze how you’re playing and determine what needs refinement. Every time I’ve done this I’m so amazed by the things I had no clue I was doing or not doing. 

 

4) Develop your speed, dexterity, & ear

 

The best way to develop these is through metronome-based exercises. Start slow. Go for accuracy over speed. When you’re consistent for a decent amount of time, increase the speed of the metronome.

Youtube is an INCREDIBLE resource for these! (look up etudes, call and response, & finger-training or rudiment exercises for your instrument)

 

5. Don’t just hear, LISTEN to the greats

 

There’s a difference between listening to a song and LISTENING to a song.

Pay attention to what they’re doing. Try to catch the nuances. Watch videos of their playing to see how they are specifically shaping their chords/playing their parts. 

So much of quality playing is having quality technique!

 

6. Swap tricks with other musicians

 

In the same breath as learning from the greats, learn from your friends!

I guarantee there are things that you can gain from them that would immensely benefit your playing. PLUS, it’s super fun to hang and play. So hang and play!

 

7. Put your instrument in an easily accessible, ready to play location

 

This is an experiment I tested over the last year and I can 100% confirm, it works!

I noticed that I am way more likely to engage with my instrument if the barrier of entry is small. If the amount of time that it takes me to go from the moment I want to play to being in the middle of playing is short, I’ll more than likely start playing.

The more setup time and the more of a hassle/“perceivably difficult” it is to start playing, then the less likely it is that I will. 

The more you see your instrument, the more you’ll play it & so much of getting better is about playing more.

Obviously, the above things mentioned are going to better help you master your instrument. But the more time you interact with your instrument overall, the better you’ll get at playing it.

 

These are just 7 of the many different things you can do to improve your playing! 

 

You don’t have to do all 7, but pick a few and go for it. 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re having fun.

Consistency is key. 

Remember, the reason we do this is not to become great just for the sake of being great. It’s about stewardship and restoring the love we once had for our instrument.

 

To help launch you into this and stick to it, maybe text a few people on your worship team and together all of you pick a few of these to do together.

 

Then in the green room or before/after rehearsal or service, share what you’re learning! 

Inspire one another. 

Again, all to better steward the gift God gave you and restore the passion and love for that gift.

 


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