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Lifelong Music Development Plan

Music appreciation and ability is a gift that most people enjoy. If you ask most accomplished musicians about their current musical abilities and interests, more often than not they will describe what it is they are working on and not what people think they may have mastered. The best musicians view themselves as students always learning and improving their musicianship. The following list represents my musical direction towards enriched and rewarding musical experiences:

  1. Be a Fan.
    Your life is already improved my music if you are simply a fan of groups and individuals that make music that you like. There is something that you can learn from listening to and watching how music is performed. Tony Robbins says that the key to success is finding someone who has achieved success doing something that you would like to do and learning how to do what they do.
  2. Get Involved In Music.
    Most human beings are blessed with amazing musical abilities that allow them to sing, play rhythms, and create music with little musical training. Joining a hobby band or community choir can offer a place to start to grow musically. As Nike says, just do it!
  3. Play Regularly.
    If you sing or play and instrument regularly every day, you will improve and grow as a musician.
  4. Learn to Read Music.
    Learning to read music will allow you to learn new songs, techniques, and approaches. Although there are many top pop performers who do not read music, reading is an essential skill for most musicians.
  5. Learn to Sight Read.
    Being able to sight read well will open many doors. It allows you to play new pieces with little or no rehearsal. All orchestral and classical musicians relay on sight reading and many popular performers use local musicians when touring. A musician with good chops and good sight reading skills can fit in as though they had always been in the orchestra.
  6. Learn Music Fundamentals.
    Learn about rhythm, scales, key signatures, modes, and harmonic theory so that you can understand and play within the structure of a song. This is essential for good composition as well.
  7. Develop Your Musical Ear.
    Relative pitch is the ability to recognize intervals and chords. Absolute pitch is the ability to recognize individual notes heard separately. Musicians who began their musical studies early tend to have a better ear for relative pitch and sometimes absolute (or perfect) pitch with less work than people who start studying music later. Having a good ear is essential for singing or playing instruments that rely or ear and technique to play in tune, such as the violin and French horn. Developing a good ear can be very difficult for many students.
  8. Learn Music Styles.
    Variety is the spice of life. Being comfortable with a number of different styles is interesting and can expand your playing opportunities.
  9. Learn Songwriting and Composition.
    A song is a place where the miracles of human language and music meet to provide creative expression. Songs and instrumental arrangements are a significant part of the tapestry for television, films, stage, and radio productions. Crafting a great song is both art and science.
  10. Learn Arranging.
    A good arrangement can breathe life into a song.
  11. Learn to Think Like A Producer.
    A good producer looks at many aspects of a song including the artistic intention, the arrangement, the instrumentation and musicianship, technical aspects of the production, and the experience of the listener to craft the best version of a musical composition. Whether you are the composer, singer, musician, or arranger, looking at the process as a producer can be rewarding. You as a producer may make different choices than you as a composer might, so it is worth wearing different hats from time to time.
  12. Learn Where Music Fits In Your World.
    How does music fit in your world? Do you want to explore and enjoy the work of others? Do you want to be a performer? Do you want to create original and lasting music? The opportunities are endless.
  13. Move Forward Every Day.
    A person can spend an entire lifetime trying to master a single instrument without running out of things to learn and explore. This is both inspiring and intimidating. No one can master it all. Perhaps the best measure of success is that you are learning and improving a little each day. For some this may be a few minutes a day, for others it may be full days of study, practice, and exploration.
  14. Enjoy

Where am I with my musical progress? I think I have done fairly well with points one and two. Although I have played drums professionally, as a new student of piano it may not be hard to find five-year old children that I will never catch in proficiency. Ear training is a struggle and an area where drumming is not the best foundation. Most areas have huge potential for improvement. I will strive to move forward to see how far I get :-)

— Greg Dixon