3 Fundamentals to Being a Musician

30Dec08

Why do you play?

Many people become musicians for different reasons, even if they are slightly different. Some people play to express some place inside them that they cannot express any other way. In this way, they are able to relieve stress and feel more emotionally free in ways that they cannot otherwise. Yet, sadly to me, there are actually people who simply use playing an instrument Only as a way to impress others. I once asked someone what their motivation was to play the guitar and the answer they gave me was “the girls!” The girls? The way I see it, girls should not be seen as a reason to play. Their attention is great as simply a result of good playing, but never the reason.

The intentions a musician has for why they play holds a huge role in many aspects of whether they are good or going to be good or not. If one’s intentions to playing the guitar is genuine and valuable to them on a deep level, then it will also be genuinely valuable to all who listen to it as well.

What a musician writes and plays is a reflection of themself and who they are and how they feel. If someone learns to play the guitar with it stuck in their mind that they only want to impress somebody else, then maybe someone might be impressed, but it will only be shortlived since no emotional or intellectual value will be sprung from it. However, if someone brings themself up as a musician through a passion rooted deep inside of them, created by love, hate, conflict, or simply artistic abstraction of another sort, it will glow of emtional value to the listener, and it also gives way to that musician’s own personal voice.

What is your voice?

Every genuine musician has their own voice. The voice I speak of does not only describe a vocalist and how they sound. This voice transends all musical mediums. Guitarists even have voices or styles of writing. They have a certain sound to their melodies or their fluency of play. Some are more rough, while others are more elegant. Some are more basic sounding, while others have a much more dynamic and complex template of melody and rhythm. There are many aspects of a musician’s voice and as a learning musician, it is very important that you are conscious of yours.

When you play the guitar do you enjoy playing faster melodies or slower more basic melodies? What frets, scales, and chords are your favorite and most used? What kinds of cover songs do you play most? How does your original material reflect the cover songs that you’ve learned?

Letting Yourself Improve

Probably the most important questions afterward would likely now be: Are you satisfied with your style? What kinds of things about it do you think could use improvement? What kinds of things do you think need toning down even?

As a growing musician, these things are very important to consider. Not only does considering and acting upon these questions raise your consciousness of your own playing, but they give you a huge opportunity to improve your ability and performance, and afterward they begin sounding even better to the listener.

You might be someone who is thinking “I’m perfectly satisfied with my playing.” and feel that there is nothing that needs improvement. And that is fine. But one day you find yourself getting bored with the one style you’ve been using for years. Guitar riffs begin all sounding the same or more similar to each other, or start to become more basic and less colorful than you eventualy realize you really want.

To me, a style of play is like a reflection of one’s own mental consciousness. In your head, you can learn things after a few years, and then stop learning things and only know what you’ve learned and nothing more. Eventually, the information you’ve known for years becomes used out and now holds less value. On the other hand, when one accepts the fact that there is always room for improvement, they will  discover that letting themselves learn new things non-stop actually reaps a surmountable abundance of skill, thereby opening up more access to their natural talent to play.

The idea here is that letting yourself improve even after decades of playing is extremely important for your growth in the world of music. Accepting that it is okay to keep learning new things (methods, added style characteristics), is a fundamental part of being a musician, no matter what it is you’re playing.

These fundamentals are only 3 of them, out of many more that I will be discussing in the future.

If you have any comments or questions, or want to add to any elaboration to these, feel free to comment here.

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6 Responses to “3 Fundamentals to Being a Musician”

  1. 1 theplaidnightmare

    It’s weird how much of this is what my guitar teacher keeps telling me (during class/outta class), especially the part about having a voice. I don’t know if I’ve found my voice, yet alone my style of play. Everyday I hear new music, and everyday I wish could play a different type of music. Maybe I’ll meet a junction at some point and decide.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping my humble blog. If you wanna check out my guitar teacher’s (not mine) music you can stop by @ http://www.myspace.com/roslimansor. It’s instrumental by the way.

    Alif

  2. It took me some years to develop my own voice. With myself, it developed out of how I learned to play, which I was self taught, and learned Metallica cover songs for years. So much of my voice developed from the artists that inspired me most, those of which I learned on the guitar and enjoyed playing the most: Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Alice In Chains, etc. Give it time and let it come naturally as you improve. 🙂

    I’ll check out that page. Thanks. 🙂

  3. Interesting blog concept. Can’t wait to see how it plays out! 🙂
    I’m too new a guitarist for a voice yet…. I know I love the minor & 7th chords though!

  4. 4 chiefmuser

    I have a voice, but I’m not sure I can define it, or even know what it is.
    I stagnated after the birth of my son took so much of my time that I didn’t touch a guitar for more than 2 years.
    Then I got addicted to blogging, the internet, and my laptop.
    I’m breaking away from that and looking for musical growth again, and will take your writings to heart.

    …but I still don’t know what my voice is and how to use it effectively. I just know that my fingers seem to have more effect on the sound coming out of the speakers than the guitar itself (the same sort of sounds keep coming out across a wide range of guitars that I’ve plugged in). I’ve heard some professionals say that, too, so I know I’m not fooling myself.

    I may chime in with what I learn as I seek to understand and develop my guitar playing voice.

  5. A gentleman, who purchased my CD, yesterday, asked me who do I sound like, Diane Reeves, Anita Baker? I told him I sound ME! Many people say I sound like Ella. I do emulate her, but I really have my OWN voice and I teach my students how important it is to find your OWN voice and not just sound like another singer who is commercially popular.

    Please visit my latest blog post and leave your comment.
    Thanks
    JC

  6. Outstanding article, I simply just passed this onto a co-worker who had been carrying out a little research on that.

    And he actually purchased me lunch for the reason that I discovered it for him.


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