One of the best tips I can give you on being a great musician is to vary what you practice to include stuff you wouldn’t normally play. Let’s face it, we all have our favourite music style or band to listen to and a lot of us tend to drag the same old stuff out each time we practice.
What I have found is that variety is a great teacher. Try putting on the radio and playing along to whatever comes on at random. It doesn’t really matter if you can’t play exactly the same as the original, just as long as you get the basic feel right. Playing along with something you don’t know well or that is a completely different style to what you normally play forces you to go back to your basics and to think about what you are playing.
I had to fill in once in a band that was auditioning for a booking agent. I knew the bass player and guitarist but had never met any of the singers and had to play nearly all the songs by ear as there were very few charts to follow. Some people would panic in a situation like this but my past habits of trying to play a variety of music helped greatly. Sure there were a few mistakes and one or two songs that would have benefitted from some rehearsal time, but overall it went very well and there were certainly no “train wrecks” to ruin the day.
Variety is the spice of life folks, here are a few tips to take advantage of it.
- Put your iPod or phone onto random shuffle and play whatever comes up.
- Play to the radio. You can even play the ads if they have a soundtrack!
- Try playing something that is a completely different style to what you normally play. If you’re into Thrash Metal, try playing some big band swing etc. Borrow someone else’s iPod.
- Watch your tempo. If you stay in time you’ve already won the hardest battle. Also, don’t pick stuff that is far too fast for you. If you’re constantly struggling to keep up you aren’t really paying attention to the song. Having said that, don’t be frightened to stretch yourself either. Playing stuff that’s just a little faster than what you’re used to is a good exercise too.
- Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.
If you have any tips to pass along that have helped you then just leave a comment below. We’d love to hear them.