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How do I become a good musician?

music I am currently learning piano and it goes well, I like R&B and I know personal experiment is important. How do I create music like that.

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Paul’s Answer

Hi Jiajun. The #1 most important thing you can do is play, and learn. You should learn something from nearly everything you play. It can be as simple as a new chord, a new fingering for a scale, anything like that. Then play - play as much as you can, as many different styles and types of music you can. Don't limit yourself to one or two genres - learn to play classical, country, pop, jazz, and more. Each genre has its own peculiarities - things you play, and things you DON'T play - and you will learn from each. And don't forget about music for film, television, and commercials. Plenty of people make a tremendous living doing that!

Have you heard the 10,000 hours rule? It says you need to do anything for at least 10,000 hours before you master it. It's not totally true, but it makes a very important point: to be really good at anything, you need to spend a lot of time absorbed in it. And don't just limit yourself to one instrument! Everyone should have a basic knowledge of piano, but play some guitar, drums, woodwinds, etc. Even if you play them badly, you'll know more about those instruments and what it takes to play them.

But without a doubt, the most important thing you can do to ensure a long-term career is to always be growing and learning. Of course, I'd highly recommend studying music formally - both with a teacher in individual study or in a formal college program. When you learn the rules of music, you can then learn which rules you can bend (or break) to make it your own. Formal education will be a tremendous resource.

Music styles come and go, bands and genres grow and fade, but music will always be needed. Learn as much as you can about as many different styles, sounds and instruments as you can, in order to position yourself for the next big thing.

Hope that helps!
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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Jiajun,

Great question and I agree with Paul's great advice shared too.

I also play piano and majored in music my first two years at college. I took Music Theory, Music Appreciation and Conducting classes, and private piano lessons, which I feel helped me build a strong technical background in music. I know there are many people who play by ear and don't necessarily read music and are wonderful musicians, but I feel that a good, strong foundational knowledge in music can be extremely helpful.

Make time on your calendar each week to practice and learn something new, like a new song, chord, etc. For me, I will try to work one piece at a time and once I'm happy with the result move to another. I'm currently trying to learn playing the ukulele which of course is very different from piano. But because I can read music and know chords pretty well already, it has been fun learning some songs that I can also play on keys.

I play with the Praise Band at my church and there are musicians I play with who have careers in music. Playing with other musicians of all different skill levels can help you improve as well. I learn so much from the other musicians I play with who are much better than me or more experienced and it just makes me feel even more inspired to practice and improve my skills.

I also follow experienced musicians on YouTube who may share tips and tutorials for learning songs.

Best wishes in your music, educational and career goals!

Melisa recommends the following next steps:

Check out this article on lessons artists can learn from Chance The Rapper
Search YouTube for some great R&B Piano playlists. I especially like ones that show you the chords being played on the keyboard.
Practice, Practice, Practice... makes Progress!