Becoming good at anything requires time and effort and music is no different. What habits do the top musicians have that lead to their success? Here are four of the most important ones.
Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. Anders Erikson wrote a paper in the 90s about the necessity to log 10000 hours of quality practice to become world class. Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea in his excellent book Outliers. Whilst lately the exact figure has been debated, there is no doubt that a practice routine is essential to becoming a great musician. However, not all practice is equal. Deliberate, consistent focused practice is the best kind rather than aimless playing. If you want to become a great musician you need to place huge importance on the area of personal development. I recommend reading these posts:
The stage is the musician’s laboratory, the testing ground for the skills acquired in the practice room. The best musicians play live a lot or write a lot if that’s their main thing. You will learn far more by actually doing. In fact, it is possible to do no practice if you play live a lot. That is your practice. You quickly learn your shortcomings when you play with other musicians and you are forced to learn fast under pressure. This takes you out of your comfort zone which leads to growth. Playing live is a great way to sharpen your ear too as well as work on your stamina, improvisation and listening skills.
Never Stop Learning
You will never truly master the bass but you should always aim to do so. Most people stop learning when they leave school but the best musicians keep innovating. Miles Davis was at the forefront of different styles of jazz including bebop, modal and fusion and he did this by refusing to stand still. Many musicians suffer great frustration because they feel they are in a rut and not improving. Often, this is because they are doing the same things. Mix it up a little: learn a new style, check out a new technique, transcribe a sax solo. Always keep pushing forward. The Japanese have a great word for small, continuous improvement: kaizen.
Learning is achieved by listening to as much music as you can. Transcribe your favorite bass lines, solos, fills, chord progressions, rhythms and do it in a variety of musical styles.The best musicians can morph into different styles of music because they have immersed themselves in more than one way of playing. Never stop listening and never stop expanding your repertoire. Click To Tweet
Of course, there are many other habits and traits that successful musicians have. List some in the comments below!