Stockings are coming down, crumpled wrapping paper’s being shoved into recycling bins, and people worldwide are skeptically patting their winter weight in anticipation of the coming year. While we whole-heartedly support your decisions to start taking cross-acro-zum-fit classes and maintaining a strict paleo-free-tarian diet, why not add something painless to your resolution list?
Here are two common musical resolutions and some tips for keeping them in 2015!
This is the “lose those last five pounds” of the musical world. Every musician knows a bit of extra practice time can make a difference.
Problem: A lack of time and motivation.
Solution: Keep a practice journal and set weekly goals. Budget your practice time in your journal the way you would your finances. Break goals into small chunks and keep a record of how you actually end up spending that time. Make adjustments regularly and cut yourself some slack. Ten minutes of focused practice can be more helpful than two hours of tedious drills, particularly if your mind is elsewhere. Instead of panicking over minutes and hours, focus on what you can achieve in the time you have available.
Play more shows.
Performing more often is an excellent goal, but plunging in headfirst can be dangerous and taxing. If you mean to keep this resolution, be smart about it.
Problem 1: The desire to perform outweighs performance experience.
Solution: Look for shows that match your vibe and set list. If you only have twenty minutes of music, it’s probably not time to headline, but you can definitely take part in a showcase! If there isn’t one available, create your own or hit up some open mics! If you feel you’re totally ready to go, tighten up your online presence and start reaching out to venues and promoters. If you’re new to gigging, have a support team around to keep you from panicking over broken guitar strings, and to evaluate shows and help you strengthen your skills as a performer.
Problem 2: It’s tough to know which gigs to take.
Solution: Create criteria. One of the biggest mistakes ambitious musicians make is overbooking just for the sake of playing out. I constantly hear colleagues complaining about gigs their bandleaders probably shouldn’t have taken in the first place. A band member once made me promise I would only take gigs if I could answer “yes” to at least two of these questions: (1) Is it lucrative enough to ensure that no band member is losing money (including the pay they would sacrifice if they had to turn down another show because of this one)? (2) Will it give us real exposure or positively build the band’s identity? (3) Could it be the most fun we’ve had all year?
If you have some additional tips or would like to be kept accountable by sharing your musical resolutions with the world, feel free to comment on this article. Good luck and happy new year!