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As we approach a new year, you’re going to hear a lot about new year resolutions. For many people, these include going to the gym more often, eating healthier, checking off a bucket list item, and more. While we applaud anyone for turning over a new leaf and improving his life, why wait until January 1st? We have eight bad musician habits to break before the clock strikes midnight, closing out 2018 forever. If any of these mistakes sound familiar, we encourage you to make the necessary changes before dragging them into the new year. Here are some of the bad musician habits to break before the new year.
Not Spending Enough Time with Your Instrument
We’ve all been there. You get bogged down with school, work, the holidays, you name it. Next thing you know, it’s been weeks since you spent any worthwhile time with your instrument. You have worked too hard as a musician to start taking steps backward now. If there is dust on your instrument, get ready to brush it off. You’ve got some practicing to do. Depending on how long it’s been or how infrequently you’ve been playing, breaking this bad habit will look different for everyone. Work at your own pace, but don’t give up without a fight.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations for Your Career
“Career” may be too strong of a term for what you plan to do with your music, but you get the idea. When you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you are asking for failure. If you’ve only been playing for a year or two, don’t get upset because you aren’t a famous recording artist yet. Building yourself up as a musician is like any other worthwhile pursuit: it takes time. For those who are still in the beginner category, start with small, incremental goals. More experienced players can aim higher, but everyone should stay in their lanes.
Going It Alone All the Time - Bad Musician Habits to Break
Doing the hard things can be lonely. Practicing for hours each week, tweaking and perfecting your sound, it can naturally become a period of isolation. With that in mind, we want to encourage you to reach out to your fellow musicians. Great music happens when artists collaborate and support one another. On a more selfish note, being plugged in with the right people might be the difference between you staying at your current level and advancing in the industry. If that’s not enough, it’s just healthy to surround yourself with people who know what you’re going through and how to help.
Not Taking Practice Seriously
Let’s clear something up right now: fiddling around for 45 minutes while watching TV is not the same thing as planning out your practice sessions. Sure, it’s always good to have your instrument in your hands. Just like carrying around a basketball all day won’t turn you into a great 3-pt shooter, simply having your instrument on you won’t drastically change your playing ability. When you practice, have a plan. You can keep notes, record the audio, work on a particular song, or do whatever else you like. Practicing poorly is definitely one of the bad musician habits to break before the new year.
Being Too Hard on Yourself - Bad Musician Habits to Break
Some of these tips on bad musician habits to break come from a place of toughness, but there are also lessons to learn in giving yourself grace. Remember that learning to play an instrument, especially at a professional level, will not happen overnight. Be easy on yourself, just don’t take your foot off the gas for too long. It’s good to schedule breaks in your practice sessions and to take care of yourself throughout the week. We don’t want to go full Tony Robbins on you, but remind yourself after a setback that you’re only human. Victory is a daily grind.
Not Setting Goals for Yourself
We’ve already mentioned the pitfalls of setting unrealistic expectations, but let’s think about how dangerous it can be to not set ANY goals. No matter where you are on the spectrum of expertise, it’s important to mark progress and set attainable goals. If you don’t, it will be hard for you to gauge how well you are coming along with your instrument. These can be as simple as learning certain songs you enjoy or as advanced as being paid to play music live. When we have goals, we can more easily fix our eyes on success.
Never Performing in Front of a Crowd
Speaking of goals, one of the best you can set for yourself is performing in front of a crowd. Never taking the stage in any capacity is one of the bad musician habits we encourage you to break before the new year. We’re not saying you have to sell out an arena. Start small by playing at a friend’s house or volunteering to help out with the music at church. We just mentioned the importance of setting attainable goals, so don’t think we want you to feed yourselves to the wolves here. When you feel ready to perform in front of others, don’t chicken out. If it goes well, then you have made a big step towards being a musician. If it doesn’t work out the way you want it to, then at least you tried. Temporary failure is as valuable a learning device as anything else.
Buying Unnecessary Gear
The last of our bad musician habits to break before the new year is buying unnecessary gear. Sometimes we feel like a certain gadget or instrument is going to unlock our potential and take us from mediocrity to stardom. While there is a lot of helpful gear out there, you can easily waste your time pining for toys you either don’t need or aren’t quite ready for yet. Making upgrades in your arsenal is great, just make sure the purchase is warranted.
There are probably an infinite number of bad musician habits you should want to break ASAP, but these eight are a good start. We hope no matter when you are reading this, you still find it in yourself to work on correcting bad habits. At Camp Electric, we want to help young Christian musicians improve in their playing abilities and become well-rounded individuals in the realm of music. Our instructors come from today’s biggest Christian bands and they are eager to lend their expertise to our music students. Find out how you can join us by clicking on the link below.