How to Be a Great Musician? 17 Rules

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Here's a List of 17 Must Have Skills That Any Musician Should Have or at Least Consider to Acknowledge

They say musicians are entrepreneurs and great musicians are simply great entrepreneurs. 

They create a product, promote it with little or no budget at all and network the hell out of it. If you are a struggling musician - you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a list of 17 must have skills that any musician should have or at least consider to acknowledge. The list isn’t sorted in a particular way and it’s up to you to decide in which order to address it. Go for it! 

1. Always enjoy your music 

Build something that will inspire your very own soul and be happy with what you’ve accomplished.

There always gonna be difficulties along the way and that’s just life, right? We can at least remember why we do it. Try to compliment yourself for achieving certain goals - it’s really important to celebrate those little moments of happy feelings.

John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans” . Remember to be conscious about yourself and be in the moment.

2. Creativity

Encounter each problem in a new and not so obvious way. Weather you are dealing with angry fans, lack of money, or just struggling to write a new riff. Try a different approach every time you tackle complex thinking.

The music business can be grey and boring - But that’s not why we’re in it. Remember to get creative to overcome some obstacles along the way.

Your music can only be creative as your performance. It doesn’t matter how long it took you to create this wonderful and creative album - It matters how you choose to show this album. It matters how you tackle the most complex problem musicians have - To entertain their audience and to keep them entertained. Try thinking about the whole environment surrounding your creative work and encourage yourself to change it until it fits better to your initial intention.

3. Surround yourself with people that have more experience 

The smartest way to learn how to be a great musician is to follow other great musicians. Don’t hesitate to come up and greet more experienced musicians than you, hoping a good relationship will emerge. Ask questions, and remember: the person who answer questions in a given conversation, is far more grateful than the one asking them.

Don’t strict yourself to musicians only. A good friend that went to law school could potentially be a working hand as well. Anyone more experienced than you in a particular field can be a great source of a personal development and can help improve your weakest spots. 

4. Play with other people 

Find a friend or a fellow musician who can join your session. Who knows? maybe you guys can go play outside on the street, And get somg immediate feedback.

Each person and musician is influenced from different events in his or her life. Those events differentiate between people and everyone got a ‘special’ something that he or she can bring to the table.

Use this to carve your songs to perfection. Squeezing the best you can out of every musician by your side. Playing with others also feels good. The more you practice with friends, the more you develop your social skills, sense of group rhythm and your much needed creativeness.

5. Self-Discipline 

To help yourself concentrate (Even when you’re sick and tired of hearing the same song over and over again) you’ll need a lot of self-discipline, and you can work on it  step by step.

You got to find this special way to motivate yourself to productivity. As a start, find your own weaknesses and try to figure out what can you do to overcome those feelings and be more productive.

6. Networking Skills 

Charisma is one of the characteristics of successful people in the world. It’s also something we can learn and improve as we go along.

If you ever played ‘Sims’ you probably remember how to get more points to your charisma stats (if you don’t, it’s by placing your Sim in front of the mirror). And it’s not that far fetched in the real world. 

Try singing in front of a mirror and see how it goes. Was it easy? Did it made you feel uncomfortable in any way?

As you practice it more, you become strictly aware of your ‘micro’ facial expressions. It’s a really good starting point since you can better control yourself in front of others and it may be the only thing needed to form more substantial relationships with people you need and care about

7. Improve your rhythm 

It’s important to understand that faster isn’t always better, it’s just faster. The whole concept of rhythm is far more complex than playing slow or fast.

Professional musicians are mostly known for their capabilities of understanding polyrhythmic phrases. It’s an ‘ear candy’ for the audience and a must for a beginners who want to become professionals.

Next time, when you practice your instrument, try playing it slower than it should be played and pay close attention to the groove. You’ll be amazed of the progress you’ll make with your fast technique later on.

As for complex rhythms or polyrhythm, try taping with one hand 4 quarter notes, and triplets with the other. You should feel the polyrhythmic rhythm in no time.

8. Performance 

Perform anywhere, at any rate, in any hour of the day. As ridiculous as it may sound, gaining gig hours is the best thing you can do for yourself as an artist.

Every performance can teach you a life lesson of how to communicate better, which songs works better than others and what’s the correct order to play them.

As you go and gain more and more experience, your audience will begin to notice that as well. You’ll see how they react differently, feeling more comfortable as you communicate with them.

9. A bit of talent 

Talent… what is talent anyway? Is it important? We guess it is, but much more important is the way you use this talent and manage to get the most out of what you got.

You probably remember teachers saying “You have a lot of potential” -  They meant talent is a nice thing to have and can potentially be useful - but don’t wait for it to happen, work hard to make it your knowledge. 

10. Be generous 

Be generous in a way of giving compliments to your fellow musicians for good performances or a great team work. Everybody can appreciate a person that gives love without asking anything in return.

A rule of thumb in the business world is that ‘Investments comes first’. As you invest in something or someone they tend to give back or sprout.

11. Learn music theory 

It’s not the 1st thing you should do, a lot of brilliant musicians never learned theory at all but it is helpful to know the science behind the feelings we feel while listening to music.

Music theory can get you started when you have a muse break or other things in mind. It can assist you when working with other musicians because it's the language of music and everybody should know to speak it.

When learning music theory, you’ll start to notice beautiful chord progressions that other famous bands used. Furthermore, you’ll begin to understand why they did it. 

The beauty with music theory is that it’s an A to Z field, meaning that you have only fixed amount of knowledge to study. No need to study it for years and you can get along with the basics in couple of weeks or months.

Remember, knowledge is power.

12. Don’t listen to everyone 

Pick your arguments wisely and ask for clarification to better understand others point of view on a given subject. Don’t hesitate to disagree if it feels right. Maybe you’re not ready yet for this opinion or it’s not so helpful.

Set goals and pursue them one by one. Don’t change them every day just because you spoke with someone that has a different opinion than yours. Be patient and if you’re persistent enough, you’ll see that the opinions about you are drastically changing towards your own.

13. Learn more than one instrument 

You don’t have to master more than one instrument but it is very useful to learn a couple more instruments. It’s good to try composing songs from scratch on different instruments because each one has it’s special abilities.

Knowing how to play on several instruments can and will increase your efficiency as a band player since every song seeks for uniqueness and what can be more unique than playing each song, in any given concert, with another instrument? 

14. Be expressive 

Music isn’t something that you can measure with technology or any other method. Music affects your feelings and for that your music should do the same.

Express your deepest feelings in your work, don’t be afraid to show who you really are. You have to see yourself as an entertainer, a somewhat psychologist and a musician that knows to talk with his  or her art.

15. Don’t just tell one story 

Tell a different story every time. Every day something new and exciting happens to everyone and it’s up to you to tell it in an interesting way.

If you want to be a serious candidate, you have to tell them something new. Remember: the audience is eager to hear some new perspectives. 

16. Practice Ten thousand hours  

They say you need ten thousands hours to master a field of interest. Music is same same.

One thing is for sure, if you got this far on this article you have no problem of self-discipline and with enough time you can get your 10k hours of practicing, rehearsing and performing.

It’s hard work to be a great musician, but it pays off quickly enough. Not a lot of people can say that they like what they do at work and surely they can’t even imagine what is it like to perform a song that you wrote from the beginning till end. The feeling is unbeatable and a supporting crowd is irreplaceable.

Spend those hours, one day at a time, and quickly become a master in your own field of interest, the best one, music.

17. You have no other choice 

Face the fact that you are a musician and musicians don’t have any other choice than being great.