The Triangle of Success
As you get ready to explore new musical vistas, you should always remember the triangle of success. As you know, a triangle has three angles. In this context, these angles represent:
If you engage in these three activities on a regular basis you will become a formidable musician. In other words, your musical abilities will grow sharper and more acute every day. You've probably heard the axiom that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Similarly, the triangle of success is only as strong as its weakest angle. So the goal is to focus on each angle equally. This way you will have all the bases covered. (No pun intended!)
Musicians have long referred to practicing as
Performance is another critical angle of success. Performing may be the goal of most musicians; however, it's also integral to your education. Only through performance will you understand what you really can play. You might be able to play something in the practice room, but in front of an audience you freeze up or it doesn't come out right. Performing is a kind of rite of passage, and it is the ultimate measure of your skills. Becoming a seasoned performer isn't easy. It's hard to play your best under pressure or in front of a curious audience.
Performing helps you to better gauge your development. The practice room is too predictable and safe to do this honestly, so you must venture out onto the stage to see what you're really made of. If you have a bad performance, avoid negative internal (or external) dialogue. Instead, focus on how you can make improvements. Always use performing as a learning tool, as an opportunity to truly assess your abilities.
What if I get nervous when I play?
The best way to get over nervousness is to simply play a lot in front of others. In time, you will get used to the feeling of being watched and you will feel less self-conscious. If you have unrelenting performance anxiety, you should incorporate relaxation techniques into your playing. You don't have to secretly suffer from stage fright.
Last but not least, listening is a crucial part of playing any instrument. You can't fully learn about music from reading a book just like you can't experience fine wine by thumbing through a buyer's guide. This is why listening is such a critical factor for success. It's also why this publication includes a reference CD.
As a student of music, you should be constantly searching out new and interesting recordings. Start by listening to the so-called legends of music. Don't just listen to bass legends either. Listen to all musicians: drummers, pianists, guitarists, horn players, orchestras, and so on.
In order to complement and accompany other instruments (including voice), you need to understand the sounds and colors other instruments make. If you fill your life with the resonances and textures of music, you will better relate to your instrument and you will better speak the language of music. Through listening, you will hear what possibilities await you. You might also find the inspiration you need to get to that next level.