While much is made of inspiration and a passion for music, a more pragmatic approach is essential when it comes to improving your performance, and setting and sticking to a solid practice schedule is essential, whether you're a solo act or part of a band.
Guest post by Patrick McGuire of the ReverbNation Blog
As much as we’d all like to think that inspiration and the pure love of music is enough to keep us musicians motivated to practice, challenges like work, school, or relationships tend to get in the way of our goals. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then becoming a serious and competent musician can only happen with action and planning; not only playing music when you feel like it. And when it comes to bands trying to make, record, and perform serious music, the idea of practicing consistently is even more applicable.
Serious bands don’t happen by accident
Making serious music with a band is a huge undertaking, and great bands don’t happen by accident. Everything from a band’s sound and recorded songs to their live performance and tours are the result of literally thousands of hours of individual and collective practice and planning. Every serious band needs a consistent practice schedule because life will always find a way to get in the way of the time and space it takes to make music happen.
Setting up and sticking to a designated practice schedule is the only way to get multiple musicians committed to coming together and devoting their time to a musical project. You might all adore music and want to make it a huge part of your lives, but that simply can’t happen if you only get together when it’s easy and you feel like playing. Serious bands set themselves apart when they devote themselves to getting together and playing once or twice a week no matter what happens for years.
How to set up a consistent practice schedule
If your band isn’t sure how to create and stick to a regular practice schedule, sit down and have
a conversation about your goals and availability. A major key to making serious music with a band is learning how to talk openly about your motivations and resources and how much time and money you can realistically devote to a project. Take the time to listen to each other and then create a practice schedule accordingly. You might not be able to get together and practice nearly as much as you’d like, but the idea here is to carve out time during every week or month that’s completely devoted to your band.
Decide on a practice schedule and get serious about sticking to it no matter what happens––within reason, of course. The idea behind creating a practice schedule is to make time that’s purely devoted to your band. And this time inevitably will be spent not just practicing or writing music but also making plans, and that’s a good thing. Bands have to be strong communicators and planners to become successful.
Tips for sticking to a practice schedule
You’ll have a much better chance of sticking to a regular practice schedule if your band members are realistic about how often you can get together and play. The times you all agree on should be seen as going to work because it takes a massive commitment and effort to create, release, and perform serious music with a band. This means getting together to practice when you don’t feel like it and when it’s not convenient. This might be a tough pill to swallow, but you’ll have to make sacrifices if you’re serious about making music.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.