Jim Mathis

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jim's Tips #18

Since I am longer producing 100 concerts a year, I don’t have as many suggestions for improving your show as I did when I watched people make simple mistakes night after night. But I have a few suggestions for becoming a better musician.

Always, or almost always, practice with a drum machine or metronome. I used to think I had a good sense of timing until I bought a basic Alesis SR-16 drum machine. I practice with it all the time now. Musicians I have known for years have commented about how solid my timing is. They never said anything before. Developing a good sense of time is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a musician.

Practice with a tape recorder or other recording device. Hearing yourself as others do can be a real eye-opener. It is also the fastest way I know to improve.

Play out as much as you can. My experience is that I learn about ten times faster in front of an audience than I do at home in my music room.

The nicest thing you can do for your fellow musicians at a rehearsal or jam session is to pass out a chord chart. Some cats can follow by ear, but most can’t. A simple lead sheet or chord chart will make friends in a hurry.