5 Habits of World Class Musicians
by Rodrigo Sanchez, Mar 15, 2021 . 4 min read
We can all learn from the 5 habits of world-class musicians. Although everybody is unique and we should all find a schedule and workflow that works for us, it’s good to at least know how the greats did it.
It is quite interesting to see that world-class musicians share some habits, regardless of their style and instrument. If you take a look at the best bass players today, and the top players in the world, you will see that they have a lot in common when it comes to work ethic and focus. Without further adieu, here are the 5 habits of world-class musicians.
They practice with a purpose
You knew that the concept of “practice” was going to be front and center for this article. But believe it or not, there are good and not-so-good ways to practice. For instance, playing the same scale aimlessly while you watch Netflix is not a good strategy for practicing. Jamming repeatedly and adrift on metal tracks on YouTube is also not smart practicing.
The secret here is the word “purpose”. World-class musicians always practice with a purpose. They work on a specific problem until they solve it. It could be working on the first 12 bars of a very difficult piece, or learning how to play three country licks in all keys in a week. Their practice goals are measurable and the time they spend with the instrument is designed to accomplish something very specific.
They are consistent and focused
This means a number of things. First, world class musicians practice everyday and with goals in mind. They have a consistent routine that is respected. Their tone, time, and approach to musical problems are consistent and never haphazardly. Top performers focus on the tasks at hand, dividing their goals into short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.
They are always learning
World class performers continue to train their minds and expand their horizons constantly. They are always searching for new ways to get better and stay on top of their game. This can be by learning new recording software, investigating music theory from a different perspective like in Schenkerian Analysis, or even learning another instrument.
But this goes beyond music. Top performers are always learning about a variety of interests that in turn enrich them to get even more into their music.
They are patient
Jazz genius Charlie Parker practiced intensely for years after being humiliated on a jam session one night. It took time, but Parker became one of the greatest instrumentalists in history thanks to his focus, practice, and patience. Everybody has to start somewhere, and it is very easy to get discouraged. But diligent practice and patience are an incredible potent formula that few employ. And those that do, rise to the crop eventually. Patience is a virtue that is not sexy or popular, but it is also a constant for most top performers.
Something unique happens when you write music. Even if you are a highly accomplished performer, you gain a different understanding and unique viewpoint of music when you write it. It can be a short piece, a song, or a 15-minute violin quartet. The act of writing a piece of music that takes the listener on a journey is also a skill and one that undoubtedly enriches immensely your understanding of music.
The 5 habits of world class musicians can help us a great deal when we’re trying to establish our own habits. Furthermore, several of these habits are common in many top-notch performers regardless of their fields. After all, consistency, patience, focus, and growth through learning are incredible building blocks of any career. Let’s keep these in mind and hopefully apply them to our musical journey so we can also grow and delve deeper into our essence.