Tips for Beginners

Tips for Beginners

Learning an instrument can be a daunting and sometimes overwhelming task once you have made the decision to do so. From buying a quality instrument to finding a qualified teacher many beginners can find themselves spinning in circles before getting any traction. The flood of information on the internet and other sources can at times only complicate things further. Here are a few things to remember when taking on a new instrument that will help you get a smooth start.

  1. Keep it simple– Learning an instrument takes time and dedication. Often students (especially adults) want to move far too fast to ever be proficient with that instrument. They will often bypass learning basics of the instrument which is counterproductive. Find a qualified teacher, listen to what they say, and practice the assignments they give you. Even though things may seem to move slowly at first you will be surprised after few lessons how much ground you’ve covered.
  2. Set aside time- Before buying an instrument or starting lessons, it helps to look at your schedule and have practice time set aside. Without a schedule for practice, students will end up skipping days of practice which delays progress. Also have time set aside in advanced for weekly lessons. Do not try to have lessons every other week or whenever you can fit it in. This never works long term.
  3. Patience- It can take ten years or more (practicing hours a day) to master an instrument. Even then for many accomplished musicians with degrees we always feel there is more to learn and accomplish on our instruments. So, do not get discouraged after three months of lessons if you are not where you want to be.
  4. Music Theory- Often over looked by many beginners, music theory gives you a better understanding of rhythm, melody, harmony, and form. Having a strong foundation in theory will make learning songs and techniques easier and faster. Find a teacher who will teach you both how to play your instrument and how to understand music.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to other students- Everyone comes to learn an instrument at different points in their lives for different reasons. Some students may have hours a day to dedicate to an instrument and others only an hour or less. Move at your own pace; slowly and consistently and you will reach your goals.
  6. Have Fun- One thing to keep in mind is the reason you picked up an instrument in the first was to have fun. Taking on music like any endeavor is full of ups and downs. Sometimes frustration can push new students to the point of quitting. It is important to communicate your feelings to your teacher so that together you overcome what is causing you difficulty. Your teacher may also be able to take a new approach or introduce a new technique to help put a fresh spin on lessons.
  7. New teachers- Even though students can be very attached to their music teacher, it is a good idea to try a different teacher occasionally. Seeing a different teacher can have many benefits including shedding new light on a concept or often reaffirming what your full-time teacher tells you. Most teachers will encourage students to have lessons with other teachers and teachers in different disciplines.

So, take the leap! Pick an instrument and get started. Music is learning for a lifetime. It’s never too late to join in the fun!

Catoctin School of Music
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