Tips to Help Make Your Musical Resolution a Reality!

Happy New Year everyone! All of us here at The Music Studio hope each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday season, and a spectacular year to come! If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a resolution or two for the coming year, but if you don’t have one yet, or are looking to add another to the promises you’ve already made to yourself, I’ve got a suggestion: learn to play an instrument or to sing this year!

Learning to perform music, either with an instrument or with your own voice, is an amazing privilege, an incredible addition to anyone’s lifestyle, and is a completely and utterly attainable goal. That being said, just like everything else in life that’s worth doing, it takes a lot of hard work. Luckily, this week we’ve got some tips to help you make your musical resolution a reality!

Since making any change to your routine and normal behaviours can be difficult, I’ll be including some suggestions from music teachers as well as psychologists to give you the best chance possible to complete your musical resolution.

Tips From A Teacher

First and foremost, you don’t need the perfect, most expensive instrument to start playing. All those expensive price tags attached to brand new instruments can scare potential new musicians off before they even start. But in reality, it’s actually better to start with something low cost, even used if you can find it.

It might seem odd that I’m telling you to start with an instrument that is less than perfect, when most thing in life require the best tools available. However, when it comes to music, it’s often better to learn on something “cheaper.” The idea is that you can become familiar with your instrument, and gain knowledge about both the instrument itself, as well as your own desires and preferences, so that you can make an educated purchasing decision later on down the road, when it’s time for a better, more expensive investment. Buying a more inexpensive, “beginner” version of your chosen instrument also protects your pocketbook in case you never fall in love with the instrument you choose. Just imagine buying a brand new piano during the first month of the year, only to find out that you’d rather play jazz bass in February.

Next, once you’ve chosen your beginner instrument, it’s a good idea to aim to have lessons once a week, for at least six months. Weekly lessons help music become a part of your normal routine, while also giving you the structure needed to learn a new skill like playing an instrument or singing. The weekly format allows you to build on the previous lesson without too much time in between for your brain and your fingers to forget what they learned the lesson you had.

Just as important as the weekly sessions is the minimum of six month period. Six months is a nice, round, magical time frame. It’s long enough for you to decide if you like what you have chosen to play, while any shorter isn’t enough time to really get to know your instrument, or get much out of the lessons. After six months you should have a good idea of whether you like what you’re doing, if you’re progressing as you should be, and if you want to continue.

But those lesson sessions shouldn’t be the only time during the week you touch your instrument! If you’re truly serious about sticking to your musical resolution, you can’t skip out of the most important part: practice! You should be aiming to get to your instrument as close to every single day that you can, even if it’s just for a few minutes (and even if that instrument is your voice). Even just five minutes of practice a day will keep you moving forward towards your goal. And on the other hand, neglecting practice is the easiest and fastest route to giving up.

Tips From A Psychologist

Okay, so it’s really only one tip, but trust me, it’s a doozy! Psychologists say that we are much more likely to commit to a task – like going to the gym, eating healthier, or, say, sitting down to practice your instrument – if we form the intention to do it when we receive a cue.

What kind of cue, you might ask? Well, a cue can be pretty much anything, it’s really just about setting a plan and sticking to it. For example, simply by planning to practice in the morning after you’ve gotten dressed (getting dressed being the cue), or planning to practice in the evening after dinner (dinner being the cue here), means you’ll be much more likely to follow through, and actually practice than if you just left your practice time fluid, and just “get it it” when you have time.

It may seem like a small thing, but having a plan and using cues will help you integrate practice time into your day-to-day routine. Without cues, you’re much more likely to just put it off, and never actually “get to it.”

When you’re thinking about what to use as your cues for practice, ask yourself a few questions, like: when is your preferred time of day to practice? When are you likely to get the peace and time for practice? What kind of cue is likely to make you think of practice?

New Year’s resolutions are often a dime a dozen. And it usually doesn’t really matter if you succeed or fail at them because most people stop caring by about March. But making music a part of your life is a resolution worth following through on. It won’t be easy, and there will most likely be times when you don’t feel like you’re making the progress you want, as fast as you want; but I would encourage you to stick with it. Everything in life worth doing takes some effort and perseverance, and making music is most definitely worth it. You can do it if you follow these simple tips and keep working towards your goal.

Remember, don’t spend too much on your first instrument, practice every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, go to lessons on a weekly basis for a minimum of six months, and make a practice plan full of cues to keep yourself honest. And once again, Happy New Year!