There’s no denying that it takes a lot of personal motivation and dedication to succeed in meeting one’s musical goals. However, there’s also something to be said for those external influencers who are there to inspire, encourage, and push their fellow musicians to become better at their craft. These influencers may go by many names, but are often referred to as “mentors” in the music industry.
Unlike teachers, mentors are not just there to instruct, share knowledge, and encourage practising. Good mentors provide perspective, offer their insights based on past experience, and help their mentees advance to the next level of their training by:
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses. You might have been working on a few projects for a long time and finally decide to ask your mentor to weigh in with their suggestions. Together, you decide you just might not be as strong in one area, hence the time it’s taken to get things “just right” to finish the project. A good mentor will help you identify areas where you can improve.
- Helping set goals. After you’ve been practising for a while, it can be more difficult to know what kind of goals to set to ensure you’re continuing to improve your craft and move forward. Asking your mentor to weigh in can be extremely beneficial. A mentor will likely have valuable advice for how to work to make the most of your practice time.
- Providing honest feedback. You’re finishing up a demo of your latest track and suddenly worry that it’s not as good as you thought. You call your mentor and ask for their honest opinion. A good mentor will give you constructive, honest feedback that will help you make pivotal improvements in your performance.
- Pushing them to keep going when they feel like giving up. You recently had a gig and in your eyes (and perhaps everyone else’s), it went terribly. The sound wasn’t right, your instrument wasn’t tuned properly or you broke a string, or the crowd just wasn’t into your music. Often, musicians hit a roadblock in their career or development or experience moments of significant self-doubt. It may seem easier to give up and walk away at times rather than continuing to move forward. A good mentor will encourage you to keep pushing onward and pursuing your dreams.
A great mentor can help you make significant strides in your musical path, whether you’re pursuing music as a hobby or a career. Below, we’ll discuss some tips for finding an amazing music mentor.
Keep an Eye Out for Specific Traits
A great mentor for one person may be a poor mentor for someone else. Liking someone’s style of music is a good start, but you’ll need to be ready to dive into much deeper details than that when it comes to finding an effective mentor that works well for you.
Your mentor should be an inspiration to you and they should share your vision and values. In addition, it’s important that they’re relatively available and flexible in terms of schedules, since you’ll need to stay in regular contact with this person. They should show signs of both positivity and honesty, since both are important when it comes to providing feedback.
It’s also extremely important that your mentor truly believes in you and your potential as a musician. No matter how much you may admire them or how much influence in the music industry they may have, they won’t be a beneficial mentor for you if they don’t truly believe in you and want you to succeed as much as you do.
Attend Conferences and Workshops
One of the best ways to seek out and meet possible mentors is by attending industry events, conferences, and workshops where music industry professionals will be. Do some research on big events like SXSW to see which musicians will be attending, but don’t rule out the smaller local conferences and workshops, either. See who will be speaking and when, and make sure to attend their sessions. This will help you strike up that initial conversation and begin developing a relationship to see if they’re a good fit.
Sign up for Newsletters
If you already know of musicians you admire and are interested in pursuing them as a mentor, make sure you’re signed up to receive all of their newsletters. This will help you learn more about them and see if their style and personality jives with your own. It will be helpful to see what kind of insights and advice they offer for free. Again, this is a great starting point for developing a future relationship and it creates an opening for you to ask them to be your mentor later down the road.
Be Persistent…in the Right Way
Chances are, the person you’re interested in having as your music mentor is an attractive choice for other musicians seeking mentors, too. In order to secure them as your mentor, a little bit of persistence and dedication is required to let them know you’re serious. However, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being annoying…and you don’t want to cross it!
Keep your communications respectful and professional, especially if you’re cold-calling the person. Be yourself, be honest, be humble, and accept the fact that you may have to hear “no” a few times before you hear “yes.” Then again, you may also need to accept the fact that your first-choice mentor isn’t seeking a mentee at the time and you’ll need to move on to other options gracefully.
Having a music mentor that understands you, believes in you, and inspires you to consistently grow and improve is one of the best things you can do for your musical potential. After all, as Zig Ziglar once said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
Have you ever had a music mentor? How did you find them?
Let us know in the comments below!
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