For many of us we look for a shortcut clever path to excellence. Being a beginner in any skill is hard. We can be overwhelmed with what we have to learn. Most main skills can be broken down into sub skills. And if we want to learn a new set of skills it’s usually because we’ve seen someone else do some cool stuff that we want to learn how to do. And taking on that new skill can be a bit overwhelming when we try to break it down. It sometimes can feel like taking on climbing a mountain without the proper gear. Well I am here to help with clearing that up.
So you really want to know the secret to the quickest way of getting better at music? I won’t leave you waiting for too long then. But before I do I think most of you already know this secret. Whether you took lessons or not you probably already heard what I am about to tell you. All you really have to do is practice and work on the fundamentals. I told you you probably already knew this. This key mastery alone can make you grow exponentially. 2 very famous people even have said how important fundamentals are. Vince Lombardi - “excellence is achieved by the mastery of the fundamentals.” And Gandhi “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” In sports most athletes train the fundamentals over and over and over again. They work on the basics and build up their speed, accuracy, and confidence. When a basic tackle is missed on the field, when a basketball player misses a simple layup or when a ball player misses a grounded ball we go back to saying they need to work on the fundamentals. Coaches preach the fundamentals especially in practice. There’s a universal understanding in sports, if your fundamentals aren’t built in instinctually, then you’ll have a lot of difficulty performing on game day. This can be interchanged with performing music and your musical instrument of choice.
Pay attention to the details. That’s the key to fundamentals. The tiniest details to every movement, where you put your fingers for learning scales or chords, how your wrist moves with every stroke of a drum rudiment, or proper hand position for playing piano. These details are critical when starting out because instead of progressing forward you could be doing 1 step forward 3 steps back and having to retrain your brain and muscle memory with learning the proper way of performing fundamentals. And the small details can sometimes seem like “common sense” but for most of us as beginners, seasoned musicians, or professionals these details aren’t. We usually need someone to tell us to slow down and focus on them. Well I am telling you, slow down and focus on the fundamentals. Many of you will say “But practicing the fundamentals is extremely boring.” Well break up the boring. You don’t have to do all fundamentals in 1 sitting session. In between practicing fundamental exercises practice along to some of your favorite songs. Or find ways to make fundamentals more fun. For example almost all songs on the radio are recorded with a metronome or click track. And if you are a drummer practicing your rudiments can get pretty boring. Put one of your favorite songs, find the beat and practice your rudiments to it. Do it with different tempoed songs, fast, medium and slow. And stay within the tempo. There’s a future video I will be doing about the fundamentals every musician should know. But for now you understand my point on making it more fun for you to practice. We have some of the best technology now for learning. When I was growing up and practicing fundamentals we didn’t have a way to watch videos instantly on our phones, computers or tablets. The internet was still relatively new. Now you can slow the speed down on a youtube clip and see exactly what is happening all in HD quality. It’s such a great tool to have especially when seeing complex techniques brokedown. No