This ‘Learn Music Faster’ series of posts highlights things my best students do that contributes towards their success. There are no secret formulae or magic tricks. Learning to play well still requires hard work, dedication and above all, practice. However, my students who do these things seem to improve quicker than the others.
Count for Yourself
When I wrote the last post on foot tapping I had lots of helpful comments from fellow musicians about keeping time in various musical situations and contexts. One recurring thread was that if the conductor / choirmaster / teacher / band leader / etc. has to start counting for you then you are doing something wrong.
At the beginning, when you are first learning an instrument, the teacher will undoubtedly count for you from time to time, if only to demonstrate how beats and counting works in music. However, as soon as you are able, try to start counting for yourself. It’s totally fine to do this out loud at early stages. I encourage this and I wish more people did it (see post on using your voice). Those who do learn faster.
Ultimately, of course, the aim should be to do this counting internally. You will find that eventually you aren’t even counting explicitly, but you will have developed that internal sense of rhythm that is so important for strong musical performance.
With experience you will find that even without counting explicitly you develop a sense of where you are in the bar and even how far you are through musical segments of 4, 8 and 16 bars. Pop music is split into chunks of this size so often that with enough practice you an feel where you are in a section even if you haven’t been counting bars carefully throughout.
So don’t leave it for a teacher, metronome or backing track to count for you. Take the responsibility upon yourself as early in the learning process as you are able. You’ll be a better musician for it.
Previously on Learn Music Faster – Tap Your Foot