Monday, January 23, 2012

"How do I become a professional musician?"
One of my favorite topics in learning music is the discussion of being a professional, and applied music theory. I was posed a question by a guitar player who appeared to be new, or relatively new, at the craft. Here is what he asked:

"... about fingerstyle guitar, what exercise do I perform to be a professional musician?"

Two Approaches to Music

As a keyboard player I might have been caught off guard by a technical question from a guitar player. However, this point is the same for every beginning music student playing any instrument. That is:  "What things do I need to practice or do to become a professional musician?"
The other approach is the "wait and see what my teacher tells me to do" attitude. As for practice, most students don't want to put in the time to learn the scales and other exercises that help them become proficient.
What I immediately realized was the desire this individual had to become great at playing guitar. If he can combine technique with theory exercises he will develop, and become masterful at his craft.

What Does It Take?

There is a tremendous amount of practice and work (and many exercises) required to become a professional musician. Scales, arpeggios, broken chords, chord voicing, and dozens of styles can be used as part of a practice system. All have to be mastered -for your specific instrument.
There is no one great thing that is going to make you a professional overnight. You need a well rounded knowledge to truly make the grade.

Applied Practice and Music Theory

As an example of combining both the fundamental music theory and a practical application, consider a scale. Any scale will work.
Music Theory
Let's say you're practicing a scale spanning two octaves. If you are learning this new scale you would pick or play the scale with no particular expression to start. That's good, you need to learn the structure of the scale.
Let's say that within a short period of time you start to group the notes in four notes per beat (as in sixteenth notes).
This grouping would be like a wave which accents the beat, goes soft and then has a mini crescendo to accentuate the next beat. Stated verbally (and played): LOUD, soft,  loud, -er and back toLOUD.
This is the process of combining music theory and its practical application at the same time to advance your skills. This is but one example of  moving toward your desires of playing better.

Theory as a Core

Fundamental music theory is the same for all instruments. Even so, we use the keyboard as our visual aid, and the theory behind it is applicable across the realm of music. It becomes a matter of first understanding the principle, and then how it applies to your instrument.
If you are being taught to play your guitar "note by note", or a handful of chords that you can strum in a sequence, then you are missing out on moving your skill and ability forward with solid theory.
When you understand principles and methods then you begin to take control of your music rather than it controlling you.

As a matter of fact I suggest you learn as much theory as quickly as possible. This will allow you to concentrate on the techniques of style and sound with a better knowledge of where and how the music takes shape and develops. 

Take your desire, add knowledge, and then do something about it every day: that's the path to becoming a true professional musician. Best wishes. :) RockON! 

No comments:

Post a Comment