From taking notes in a classroom to completing everyday household chores, technology is drastically altering the way we interact with the world, and music is definitely no exception here.
In fact, studies have shown that even the way we’re learning how to play musical instruments has shifted over the last two decades from primarily pen and manuscript paper operations, to formal lessons and exams, to this current age: the age of independent learning.
If you’re a novice muso who’s looking to get up close and personal with an intimidating new instrument, here’s all you’ll need to get the ball rolling.
Invest in your instrument
It can be daunting investing money into any new hobby, but considering that you’re already investing your time – a far more valuable commodity – it makes sense to do your efforts justice and find yourself a quality instrument to play.
Alongside this, if you’re learning independently with the use of digital resources, it makes sense to invest in quality tech-savvy instruments like a smart guitar over a secondhand acoustic or an 88-key digital piano over a 61-key keyboard.
Sourcing these valuable learning tools at the beginning of your educational journey will act as a powerful motivator for you to commit to your practice, as well as ensure that you’ll be spending a lot less time and money in the process, as you won’t have to worry about upgrading or even getting to grips with more sophisticated instruments further down the line and essentially starting from square one over and over again.
Make a library of resources
The internet can be a veritable cornucopia of information if you know where to look, and when it comes to learning instruments, you’d be surprised by just how many resources are actually out there for public use.
Educational platforms and YouTube channels like GuitarLessons and Drumeo can provide fresh students and veteran musos alike, with a myriad of valuable resources like thorough ‘how-to’ videos, tailored ‘Q&A’s with well-established experts, and an abundance of sheet music for a great variety of genres.
It’s up to you to collate these resources into a music library that you can consult at any time. Whether this library is intended to be confined to a shelf of dedicated hard-drives, or just printed out and tacked along the walls of your music room, it’s all about taking some extra time to find what works for you as a student.
Set short/medium/long-term goals
Speaking of finding what works for you, an infamous pothole that all independent learners have stumbled upon at some point or another is a difficulty with monitoring or measuring your progress, or adhering to a learning timeline.
It can be tricky prioritizing an artistic endeavor like learning an instrument in a world where the arts are consistently sidelined, so it’s up to you to ensure that your practice stays a priority. This can easily be achieved through the development of short, medium, and long-term goals.
The reason why you should always adhere to a scalar model of goal-setting when it comes to learning an instrument is purely to simplify the seemingly monolithic task that you’ve taken upon yourself to achieve, this being eventually reaching an expert level in playing your chosen instrument.
But when you learn a language, you’d be foolish to expect fluency in a week or a month. You acknowledge that learning a language takes time, as all good things do, and that it’s important to not let this overwhelming sense of commitment deter you from achieving your long-term goal.
This is why short and medium-term goals can be so handy! Just be sure to update your goals as you go along so that you’ll always have something to work towards.
Develop (and maintain) a practice schedule
Finally, there are some things that simply don’t change, and one of those things is the importance of practice. Practice is an evergreen responsibility shared by musicians at all stages, and practice will undoubtedly always play a key role in you achieving your personal musical goals.
It can be difficult settling into a groove when it comes to regular practice, and so if you find yourself playing aimlessly during your precious practice time, it helps to consult your resource library and read some articles/watch some videos where your self-ascribed teachers share details regarding their own personal practice schedules.
You might even find that the way we practice has also greatly altered through the ages!
If you’ve been able to tick off all these suggested boxes, you’re most certainly on your way to mastering your chosen instrument. And once you’re done getting to grips with your current music-maker, be sure to use these same learning skills and apply it to something fun and new!