The 5 Laws Of Musical Success

target 150x150 The 5 Laws Of Musical SuccessToday I wanted to hit you with a little something called The 5 Laws Of Musical Success.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that ‘getting good’ on your axe comes down to getting something done in the practice room every day. (Or at least most days.)

These 5 Laws Of Musical Success will help make sure you do just that:

Number 1: The Law of Clear Targets.

So the goal is to improve some area of your playing every day in the practice room, right?

What we’ve got to do to make sure that happens is turn that ‘some area’ into a clear target – a.k.a. a desired result, an outcome.

This is where we dump the bad habit of random noodling, musical meandering and generally disorganized, unfocused practice sessions.

We instead choose a clear target like memorize the first 8 bars of Stella by Starlight and be able to sing it and play it from memory without having to think about it.

Number 2: The Law of Focused Energy.

The more focused our energy is, the faster we will cut through the target. Imagine you want to chop down a tree. What would you rather use – a razor sharp saw blade or a blunt rock?

The saw would allow you to focus your energy using the ultra thin and sharp edge thus cutting through the tree much faster than with the rock.

It’s the same with your musical target.

So you’ve got your target – 8 bars of Stella by Starlight. You can focus your energy by zooming in on the melody and working on less of it and also by slowing it down. Like maybe just the first few notes.

Common sense. But a lot of cats try working on tunes by working on the whole tune at the same time.

They get into that pattern where they just repeat the chorus over and over, playing some of it well and stumbling over other parts. It is much better to zoom in on the stuff you can’t do well, focus in on it and then…

Number 3: The Law of Focused Attention.

Now that we have a target we can actually work on hitting it.

We’ve zoomed in and worked out the first couple of notes of the melody. But we must hold our attention on it and practice it until it becomes habituated, in other words easy.

We work on hitting the target by first using mindful repetition until it becomes habit. Focused Attention means practicing it until you ‘own it’

Number 4: The Law of Trial and Error.

Learning jazz has a lot to do with just going for it and figuring it out as you go. There’s a lot to be said for just choosing a target and going for it. And working on hitting the target until you get it. Here’s how the basic process looks:

Choose a target

Take Action (Go for it)

Evaluate Your Results

Adjust Your Approach


Number 5: The Law of Accumulation

We ALL learn one step at a time. The cats that get really good understand this and they enjoy the learning process.

Every day they take a tiny step forward with their music. And they are persistent enough to keep working on things until they finally get it.

One thing you should keep in mind is that everything we try to do in the practice room almost always takes a little longer to master than we want it to.

There are obstacles. There are learning curves. It takes time for new connections to form in the brain and the aural imagination.

But patience truly is a virtue in this case.

As far as I see it we’ve got two choices. Hang in there, be patient and ultimately hit the goal (and get better). Or be in hurry, switch practice material too soon and never hit the goal (not get better).

The choice is simple for me!

I hope you dug this stuff. These laws have profoundly impacted my own musical development. And they’ve formed the basis of my power practice paradigm and really a large part of my approach to learning music.


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