5 Ways to Improve Your Improvement
1. Plan consistent, intelligent practices.
The effort to improve doesn’t have to be so hard, but it does require consistency and effective planning. Learning how not to waste time while practicing has to be the single most valuable skill for any musician. Scheduling practice sessions and devising a plan to attack weaknesses or increase knowledge are guaranteed methods of improvement.
2. Be less self-critical and more accepting of your “imperfections.”
A different attitude about an old, supposed “flaw” can positively change your outlook and give you some new energy in your playing and practicing. Consider the fact that some of your heroes or players that you respect also have weaknesses that they don’t dwell on. If musicians didn’t have areas in which they were average or flawed, they would all have the same or similar style. Personality matters way more than complete mastery. There, I said it.
3. Spend time practicing the optimal state of mind.
The mental aspect of playing is seldom discussed in the academic pursuit of learning an instrument, but it is inescapable in its reality. A great beginning to acknowledging and harnessing the power of your mind’s affect on your playing is to read Kenny Werner’s “Effortless Mastery.” Get a copy and internalize it.
4. Focus on a vision of what you can become and honor that vision.
In much the same way that you need to have a goal to make your practices more productive, you need to develop a clear picture of your objective as far as your development is concerned. This exercise can be tricky, because you don’t want to short-circuit your progress by limiting yourself. Instead, know that your “fantasy self” should continually evolve. Once you’ve reached a plateau, set your eyes on a new prize.
5. Put others first.
Too often we can get caught up in trying to be all that we can be and forget that the true joy of playing music is playing with others. To go further, the true joy is to make those that you play with HAPPY. So, put some conscious effort into focusing outward and being objective about whether what you do musically makes other musicians with whom you play feel good.