Our very own Devon De Swardt swears he’s doing this and not just watching Is Love Blind on Netflix…
1 – Learn New Songs.
One of the best ways to improve across the board is to learn new tunes. However, try to challenge yourself. Learn genres you don’t normally play, or try a song that is a little harder than what you would normally play. Try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
2 – Learn a New Rhythmic Variation.
It’s pretty easy to fall into rhythmic traps, especially if you regularly compose or improvise. Why not try mastering something new like a 3/4 polyrhythm, or playing in an odd meter like 7/8. There are plenty of awesome tutorials on YouTube; pick one, anyone should be fine, and give yourself a nice little challenge.
3 – Learn a New Tonality.
Anyone capable of holding a set or 3 together at a gig should be quite comfortable in major, natural minor, and maybe even mixolydian tonalities. Try getting comfortable in a new one. Dorian is very common, especially in Jazz, in heavier rock genres, and even in Latin music. Try harmonic minor for a more neoclassical or middle eastern feel. Or maybe even pentatonic sounds, often reflected in Asian music and Blues. Just pick a scale and start fiddling. Many hours of fun lie ahead!
4 – Learn Some New Chord Voicing’s.
If you play guitar try pushing yourself out of the same old chord shapes. Almost every chord on the guitar can be played in at least 7 different ways. Look at the CAGED system, or some of the Jazz voicing’s like drop 2 or voicing chords in 4th’s. Or, better yet, write out the notes and try come up with some of your own. This will go a long way in finding your own voice on your instrument.
5 – Experiment With Some Alternate Tunings.
Retuning your instrument is a great way of forcing yourself to think outside the box. It forces you to rely on your ears instead of the muscle memory in your hands. It may be very awkward at first, but push through! You will likely come up with something quite different to your usual musical flavors.
Be sure not to try all of these at once. Pick one and work on it over several days, until you get the hang of it, then move onto the next. Music is very much a practical skill. Each new thing you learn needs to be practiced until it feels natural. Otherwise, all you are doing is entertaining yourself. Which is fine too 😉 but if want to truly expand your musical skill set then take the time to internalize each concept. Happy practicing!