I have worked with so many amazing and talented musicians over the years. What makes them so good, and what makes them so great at what they do?

I want to share with you their techniques, inspiration, and sample usage. I will also share some of the stuff I have picked up that makes its way into my own practice space.

This will give you some ideas for your studio and help you improve your own practice habits.

Great musicians practice hard

Gus Unger-Hamilton of alt-J performing at VH1 Supersonic Pune. Feb 2018.

Some say they play until they are 90-100% healthy. That’s a lot of practice.

Do you have an idea of how hard they play? Go ahead and try to name the two instruments they play and get a ballpark of how long it takes them to practice.

If you can’t, that’s great! You are doing better than I did.

Some of you might have heard of Johannes Brahms, a German composer. He is considered by many to be the greatest and most original of all composers.

This guy loved his daily routine. He started work very early in the morning and played until dinner. It is said he played on his own while he was eating.

No headphones, no phone, no wife. He was the epitome of a modern master.

I didn’t even want to hear those simple piano works he composed. Those of you with ears are already applauding.

Get organized

When you sit down to practice, you first need to be able to get organized. Your body needs to be aligned.

You should have your instrument at the correct height and angle. You should have your instrument in your lap at a good enough resting angle.

Don’t you want to sit up straight and perform at your best? You want your hands to be in the proper position.

You don’t have to line up your stethoscope exactly with your piano (I do this because it works well with my routine).

Sit upright. Your forehead should be about level with your knees.

Your pelvis is not skewed. Your arms and your hands are at the right angle.

Get inspiration in your practice space

Teddy and the Rough Riders

You need to be able to be inspired. It helps to have good inspiration, but you also need to be able to be inspired when inspiration isn’t going to come.

You have to be able to deal with life and practice to be a great musician.

If you feel that music isn’t a problem for you, then maybe you should consider one of these options:

  • Build a recording studio.
  • Tinker with modeling clay.
  • Create your own album covers.
  • Learn to sing like Phil Collins.
  • Play Guitar.
  • Play Classical piano for 25 years.
  • Visit a friend’s band practice room.
  • Try a drum circle or percussion.
  • Learn to improvise.
  • Learn a musical instrument.

These things might help with inspiration. It’s hard to make inspiration rain.

I guess it works as a real rainstorm. Sometimes it’s just hard to get inspired. It happens.

Try different methods. Also be aware that inspiration and inspiration can occur while practicing an instrument, as well as while you are practicing music.

Play consistently

This is easy to preach. Many people want to play, but not enough people want to follow through on the playing.

It’s very easy to be lazy and has bad habits in music. It’s not so easy to change these habits.

When you play consistently, you end up with a solid daily routine that improves your skills, and you end up with a good habit.

This way you can make this part of your daily life and have consistency in your practice.

It’s also really important to take a day off when you are feeling lazy and you need a break.

Take the day off. You don’t have to play a lot. Just sit there and rest.

When you get back at it, try to continue to play consistently. It will help with your discipline.

You don’t want to have a time of practice that you can’t keep up with. Even if you are doing something that is very hard, you want to keep it up.

Get inspired by other musicians

Listening to music and other musicians can help you develop your own style. Your playing needs to be something that you like.

You want it to reflect who you are as a musician and as a person. I think it’s really important to listen to a lot of different styles of music.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Jackson because I was going through a lot of that as a young guy.

I think it’s really important to listen to other musicians and learn from them.

You can get ideas from other musicians. You can learn new techniques.

You can look at how they play in different situations and try to use that in your own playing.

Use random tapes as your inspiration

Top view of audio cassette with tangled tape on bright yellow background with copy space, minimalistic composition

In the studio, we had random tape players. We had a cassette player that was so old that it used a stylus. We would put an old tape in, and we would put the needle in.

You couldn’t even tell what type it was. This one was really old and it wasn’t working at all.

So we were just going to throw it out. Then one day, I was messing around and I hit the ‘in’ button on it and it starts to record.

I start to play, and it was this song by George Michael, “Faith.” It was this huge single from 1986.

And I had never heard of George Michael. It’s an amazing song. It’s a nice, positive song.

It reminded me of my dreams, and it made me feel really positive. I wrote a melody that became “Shelter.” I still play it when I’m in a bad mood.

When you get back at it, just keep going and keep practicing. Keep practicing.

Do the thing that makes you feel good.

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