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Seven Ways to Improve Your Musical Skills
By Jeffrey P. Fisher
http://www.jeffreypfisher.com

Here is the process that helps you continually improve your talents and produce your best music all the time.

(1) Compose something every day
To get the most from your talents, use them. Make composing part of your daily routine. This need not be extravagant or even complete, rather just put your first thoughts down on paper, tape, disc, etc. Not everything you do will be "good", but the exercise will yield some bits and pieces that you can later turn into something special.

(2) Listen to music every day
Take that oh-so-important music bath every single day. Don't just play it in the background, though. Take time from each day to really sit down and LISTEN to the music. Study carefully and then apply what you learn to your own work.

(3) Get inside another composer's head.
Many musicians learn through copying their favorites. While this is useful to improve your mechanical skills, imitation is critical to improving your composition skills. Pick artists you admire and compose in their style. Imitating without directly copying is harder than it sounds. This assignment tells you much about music, how other composers think, and what this means to you.

(4) Try other styles and forms of composition that you usually ignore
O. K. so you're a rocker. Nothing wrong with that. But have you considered composing for string quartet? No matter what your level of talent is, try this: Choose a simple tune like Row Row Row Your Boat and try to write multiple versions in various styles like hip-hop, jazz, orchestral, new age, and such. Without having to worry about the melody, you are free to experiment with structure, rhythm, chords, counter melodies, arranging, and orchestration. Just because you don't like or aren't comfortable in a particular musical genre doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a whirl. Creativity means looking outside the boundaries. Leaving your comfort zone is the doorway to your best work.

(5) Seek constructive criticism
Find someone whose opinion you trust and ask for their help and constructive ideas. Play your music all the way through for them and then ask open-ended, leading questions. Next, play the track again and analyze it in greater detail. Someone with musical knowledge means you can discuss the track better. Wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, and your mother's opinion are worthless with this exercise. No offense, just the truth. Once you get opinions and advice, go back to the drawing board and put all you've learned to work, repeating the process, if necessary.

(6) Produce your work and send it into the market
Once you've been following the above steps diligently, you will be ready to put your work out in the world. Now the market decides if you have what it takes (and what they want). This is the real test of your skills. Don't fret rejection, though. Use both positive and negative feedback to make your future work stronger.

(7) Evaluate your past work
Don't let your old music fade away. Dust it off and give it a critical listen. I once discovered an old song on a long-forgotten tape. Reworked and rerecorded, it turned it into a jingle for a major advertiser. Once you've let music sit for some time, the warts really stick out. Use this distance from your work to improve your past, present, and future music.

Follow this seven step process throughout your musical career. Here's to your continued improvement and success!

See this idea in action I followed the steps discussed in this article to create my own Melomania music library. Go to http://www.jeffreypfisher.com/melo.html and see firsthand how you, too, can create, promote, and sell your own music library. After you've studied my example, get started yourself right away. Gather up a few tracks, create a demo, put together a promotion, master your final CD, and start making sales.

Jeffrey P. Fisher is the author of "How to Make Money Scoring Soundtracks and Jingles", "Ruthless Self-Promotion in the Music Industry" and "Profiting From Your Music and Sound Project Studio". Get more information from http://www.jeffreypfisher.com or send e-mail to jpf@jeffreypfisher.com.

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