8 Thing You Need to Know Before Starting Music Lessons

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Many adults are looking to start or get back to playing music.


There are so many different types of music lessons, genres, instruments, theories and more to familiarize yourself with when entering the world of music. And that is why we wrote this article, to help prepare you for success and get you started on the right foot.  


Start getting excited about the path your musical journey will take you on! 



       1. Choose a genre and instrument

The first step you need to take before starting music lessons is picking an instrument that you're interested in. Yes, there are a plethora of instruments to choose from and if you aren’t sure which instrument fits you best, try looking to your favourite artists, bands or genres. See what instruments are predominantly used in those genres to narrow down your list. Keep in mind that you will need to choose an instrument you have access to, so plan to purchase, rent or borrow an instrument once you’ve made your choice.


For example, if you mostly listen to rock music, you might want to play the drums, electric guitar or bass. But if you prefer jazz music, you might find the saxophone or the upright bass more appealing. 


However, it is worth noting that there are a lot of artists who like to stray from the typical instruments in their genre. For instance, you may find that playing a brass instrument on a singer/songwriter track adds some nice texture. The band Apocalyptica is another great example of atypical instruments used in certain genres – as they are a metal band but they all play the cello. 


Many instruments are also very versatile. For example, the classic guitar and electric guitar have the same notes in the same places. This means you would just need to get used to a different feeling, instead of having to learn a whole new instrument from scratch. In the case of very versatile instruments, the genre won’t matter as much because you will be able to play a whole variety of different instruments.


Renting an instrument is the best way to try something new without commitment!

        2. Create personal goals 

Creating goals is a practice you should implement when starting music lessons and uphold continuously as your talents grow; as you develop, so will your goals! This will make it easier to track your progress and set new milestones that you want to reach. If you’re taking music lessons, your teacher can help you set realistic and achievable goals, and celebrate with you when you reach them!


Some examples of goals are: 

  • Create original music 
  • Learn a new style or genre 
  • Explore improvisation
  • Start a band 
  • Update your musical resume if you’re a soloist
  • Attend an audition
  • Attend a music networking event – and don’t forget your demo, press kit, or at least a business card!
  • Earn a certain amount of money for playing music 


    3. Stay consistent 

All of your goals are achievable if you put in the required amount of work. The fastest road to success is consistency, so make sure you clear enough time in your week for music and talk to your teacher about the right amount of practice for you.


In addition to your weekly music lessons, set extra time aside in your week for practising, as this will allow you to develop your skills quicker. Create a schedule, mapping out which days you will be practising and for how long. Sticking to a schedule will allow you to balance other life tasks with music practice and prevent you from being overwhelmed with managing your time. 


A helpful tip to staying consistent is building a routine. At home, you should designate a specific area for practising your instrument. Pick a space that’s free of distractions and offers plenty of room. At the same time, make sure it won’t completely isolate you, as music should feel like it’s a part of everyday life as opposed to something separate from it. The space should also be pleasant and in a spot where you will feel consistently comfortable playing. 



    4. Use a metronome

An essential tool for ALL musicians, the metronome is important because you do not have a perfect clock in your brain. When you first learn a piece of music, there will be some sections that are more challenging, so you will naturally slow down to accommodate them. You may think that later, when you have mastered those sections, everything should be just fine, but you may overcompensate. And you may actually go faster in those harder sections later on. 


The only way to really measure your music is to use the metronome and play your instrument with it. However, don’t make the mistake of setting the metronome to a speed that is too fast making it almost impossible to match it. Find a speed that you are comfortable with. Setting metronome speeds is great for getting through those difficult sections. As you will be able to slow down individual sections of music, you will also be able to incrementally increase the speed as you become more comfortable with the piece. 

A wide variety of metronomes are available in many styles and price ranges.


    5. Record yourself

Make sure to label and date your recordings so you can easily find them later. When recording yourself, you might listen to it the same day, but you will also want to listen to it in the next couple of days or a week later. This will allow you to take a step back and refresh, to give yourself a cleaner perspective. You may find that it sounds better each time you listen to it, or you may find new ways to improve. Try not to beat yourself up each time you listen to the recording, and be sure to celebrate the things you are doing well. Constructive criticism is important, but don’t go overboard to the point that it is making life difficult. The process of self discovery should be fun and motivating. 


Recording yourself is great for tracking progress, and just think about how in a year from now you will be so much better than when you started.


The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder is a convenient way to make recordings of yourself or your group!

The Zoom H1N Handy Recorder is a convenient way to make recordings of yourself or your group!


    6. Learn music theory

Most people don’t jump at the chance to start buying books on music theory. That being said, knowing music theory will give you a competitive advantage in your lessons and musical career. Music theory can be overwhelming, but the good news is that a music teacher can help you work through this part of your musical growth.


There are some exam boards that don’t require you to learn music theory; however, there are exam boards around the world that expect you to know music theory once you get past a certain level. The wisdom in this lies in the fact that people who know music theory will be able to learn new music faster. There are some people who can play a select few songs very well, but struggle when it comes to playing new pieces because they haven’t learned the theory behind it. 


Music theory is the study of what music is, and how musicians and composers make music. Music theory is theoretical and philosophical, but it’s also practical. It’s understanding when lowering the third by a semitone results in a minor chord or progression, what makes a note pairing dissonant, or how to read and play syncopated rhythms.


Learning music theory will prepare you for writing your own music as well as allow you to understand why something sounds good or doesn’t. 


In terms of learning an instrument, music theory will teach students to understand the importance of notation, keys, scales, intervals, pitch, melody, harmony, and more. 


    7. Find a group that shares your hobby

Finding people who share your interests will encourage you to perfect your craft. You can help each other develop your skills and learn from each other's mistakes. It will also be easier to keep on top of current trends and make the learning process more enjoyable. 


Here are a few places that make it easy to meet people with shared interests: 



Start your musical journey with lessons that are tailored to meet your specific goals. Visit us here or contact your local Long & McQuade Lessons Centre for more information!

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