May 30, 2019

Practice the Art of Being a Team Player

In the same way that learning the other players' parts will help you to fit in well, so too will learning to become a team player. Any guitarist can tell you that your amp sounds great when it's shaking the rafters. But if you crank up indiscriminately, it makes it hard for the other musicians to play at their best. Remember, they need to be able to hear as well. So, when they tell you they need you to adjust your volume, try to accommodate them to the extent possible. A good stage mix allows the whole band to hear not only themselves, but all the other parts as well. It does not require the ultimate guitar tone; that is essential out front, but it isn't always the top priority on stage. If everyone can hear well enough to play, the stage mix is good enough. Volume wars are a fact of life in music, but they aren't the only way in which it is essential to be a team player. Is your rhythm part stepping on someone else's solo? Does your tone mask a more important part of the bigger picture? Very few successful bands exist where only one player dominates all the others, and you will get more compliments (and more gigs) if the band sounds great than if you alone sound great at the expense of the music. A huge part of fitting in is learning to work together. 

Treat Your Body Like An Instrument

Most musicians are pretty good about keeping their precious gear in good working condition. But you must keep in mind that your gear only does great things when you are able to play it well. Learn to eat well for your overall health. Avoid damaging habits like tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Stop to remember all the world-class musicians that died from drug-related health problems or overdose. Don't fool yourself that you play better buzzed, rather learn to relax in better ways before the show. Repetitive motion-related injuries have ended many promising careers, so learn the therapeutic exercises that physical therapists use to treat and prevent them. Healthy, flexible forearms are crucial for guitar and bass players, so learn how to keep them that way. Listen to what your body is telling you about your muscles and ligaments. If they are swollen, tight, or sore, then your body is sending out a distress signal. So, take those messages seriously and get therapeutic help. Carpal tunnel syndrome can end your musical career. But did you know it can be prevented by eliminating the inflammation that causes it? On this topic, don't be afraid to seek help early for repetitive motion pain. Timely therapy can eliminate the problem, and learning how to use stretching, ice and massage to relieve inflammation will allow you to keep your hands and arms in top condition. The rest of your body is important too, so you should stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet. Get in the habit of stretching out before you play in order to avoid injury. Don't stay out late to party the night before a show or when traveling on the road. Hangovers disrupt your concentration, dehydration wrecks your voice and can lead to muscle cramps, and wearing yourself thin will probably interfere with your practice regimen first, undermining your progress. If you are serious about music, then get serious. Musicians are also athletes. Treat your body like it matters, because it does.

In this series, we talked about Seven Habits That Will Make You a Better Musician. We learned how to incorporate them into your musical endeavors on a regular basis. But just like any other area of playing music, you will only get out of it what you invest in it. Becoming a great musician takes more than practicing your chops; it also takes consistent effort. Apply these principles and you will not only take your musicianship to higher levels; you will also ingrain habits that will make your study of music more effective for a lifetime! Have you put these principles to work for you? Let us know in the comments section below.


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