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Seven Ways to Improve Your Musical Skills
Jeffrey P. Fisher
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
(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.