In music, there are no shortcuts or quick fixes. If you want to continuously progress, you need to develop long-term strategies for practicing and staying inspired to make music.

This week, we’re sharing exactly how to build effective practice habits for long-term success and approaching the topic of creativity from two different angles, showing you how to summon inspiration in a pinch, and how to maintain it over your musical journey.

But first, let’s have a look at this past month’s offerings here at Musical U, and how they too can aid you in the long haul…

New in November

November saw us releasing an exciting new module that will take your improvisation to new heights, and revamping a very popular favourite, with improved content to make the topic even more clear and relevant to your practice.

Musical U updates for NovemberMoreover, we celebrate the arrival of a new Resource Pack, in which our resident pros for bass, guitar, and piano show you how to wield one often-overlooked musical tool that will bring’s dead music to life with interest, expression, and energy.

Last but not least, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to stick to your personalized training plan and see your progress, with visual changes that make your plan a breeze to look at and navigate.

Head on over to What’s New at Musical U: November 2017 to learn more about our new and our improved modules, Resource Pack, our shiny new training plan layout, and an exciting sneak peek for a masterclass happening in just two weeks that you won’t want to miss!

Creativity Through Constraints

Flashes of inspiration make the songwriting and recording process a breeze, and you can find yourself riding a creative wave for hours on end, resulting in plenty of amazing song ideas and songs.

Musical U updates for NovemberHowever, every musician needs a Plan B for when the creativity well runs a little bit dry, and as Jason Dzamba explains in Box Yourself into Creativity: 5 Tips for Recording and Songwriting, a counterintuitive but excellent recourse is to impose some limitations on your songwriting and recording.

Songwriting can be one of the most amazing experiences as a musician, and to be able to put your own thoughts and emotions permanently into a piece of music is a beautiful thing. Keyboardmag recently released this interview with Adam Schlesinger from rock band Fountains of Wayne about what he has learned about songwriting.

For every successful songwriter, there are dozens that never had their dreams fulfilled. While everyone will make mistakes in their profession, why not learn from those that have come before you? Amanda Colleen Williams from Songpreneurs describes the top 5 mistakes that songwriters make in the music business.

Once you have written your new song, it’s time to take it to the recording studio. While recording, time is money, as most charge by the hour. Here are 18 tips for running a great recording session from Izotope.

The final step in the recording process is to bring all the various tracks together into the final mix. Mixing is an art form in itself, and one where a sufficient amount of skill is required. Music on a Mission has developed a 12 step formula to get you mixing like a pro!

Healthy Music Habits

You could have the best music teacher and all the drive in the world, but something that will hold you back is bad practice habits.

Good practice habits tailored to your learning style and aims will help you make the most out of your time spent with your instrument, and put you in a routine where you are constantly improving and meeting your desired musical milestones.

Good habits in music

About Good Music Habits details the importance of building up practice habits that will get you on the fast-track to meeting your musical goals, and shares four steps you can take to create a suitable practice plan for yourself, or upgrade your current one.

Christopher talked about the importance of regular practice when becoming a musician. But what you practice is just as important as for how long. PianoTV provide some great insights on how to best organize your practice time.

Connecting with other musicians is a great habit, but is becoming harder as more public education programmes have elected to not include music education. Practice Makes Perfect writes about one millennial’s fight to save music education, and why access to creative education is incredibly valuable.

One thing that we don’t regularly talk about is the impact that your physical health can have on your ability to play music. There are specific habits that you can pick up to help increase your longevity and energy in the practice room. Dean Hailstone provides five lifestyle tips for musicians to help your mind and body perform at its best.

Doesn’t everybody love TED Talks? Dr. Don Greene and Annie Bosler collaborated to develop a scientifically-based method to effectively practice music. These same tips can be used in any activity that you want to improve in – you won’t want to miss this fascinating video!

Keeping Hold of Creativity

Inspiration and creativity are fickle entities that appear to us seemingly at random, and often disappear for unknown reasons and without a trace, leading to the dreaded phenomenon of “writer’s block”.

This may lead to some frustrated musicians attempting to move past this block by “forcing it” – creating music via compulsion, not through passion or inspiration.

Staying creativeIn Finding and Sustaining Creativity, with David Andrew Wiebe, the songwriter/entrepreneur/podcaster/author shares tips on organically finding inspiration, balancing the creative spirit with staying productive, and why performing regularly helps fuel his creativity and keeps him writing.

Being a musician is a lifelong vocation, where you never reach the end of your growth. But, we can take joy in knowing that there is always more to learn. David stresses the importance of ongoing self-education for musicians – find out why!

David discussed how he was able to watch his friends learn their first songs so easily, playing many of the popular songs of the day. Putting it all together this way can be much more effective than just learning theory and the technical aspects of your instrument. Brian from Chasing Sound talks about how learning cover songs goes a long way in improving your playing.

There is a common perception that you need to become highly skilled on your instrument and know every scale under the sun in order to be a great improviser. Better Sax proves that this is a myth as Jay shares how you can begin improvising today.

Too many musicians struggle with improvisation while trying to achieve the progress they desire. Sean from Guitar Coaching Online has compiled these five ways to supercharge your improvisation chops.

Every musician, David included, sometimes fights to find motivation and inspiration to continue their practice. To break you out of your funk, Adam Nitti has these practical tips that you can use to rejuvenate your musicality and beginning progressing again.

Skills for the Long Haul

Knowing how to keep yourself inspired and understanding how to practice smart will ensure that you remain excited and motivated in your musical practice for a long time to come.

Start investing in your musical path today by figuring out practice habits that will help you get to where you want to go and considering tactics and perspectives that will keep you creating for the rest of your days!

Musical U’s modules, Resource Packs, masterclasses, and educational articles will take your musical journey even further, with personalized learning and support for when you get discouraged or stuck. Sign up for a free trial – and see for yourself!

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