Just relax and blow -- Hariprasad Chaurasia

Some distilled wisdom on learning to play a musical instrument.
  • Play fifteen minutes every day rather than three hours once a week.
  • Don't spend more than five consecutive minutes on something that annoys, bores or frustrates you.
  • There is too much beautiful music to waste time on pieces you don't like.
  • Play with other people. Different instruments, different backgrounds, different tastes, different habits.
  • Spend lots and lots (and lots) of time listening carefully to a wide variety of music. Look for structure, harmony, variation, interpretation, rhythm, ornementation, etc.
  • Record yourself regularly. Good for perspective and for listening to three months later to realise how much you've improved.
  • The work that you do during periods of apparent stagnation is what will allow you to suddenly leap to the next level. If you feel stuck, try a change.
  • Every day, play something short that you already know by ear. This will improve your ear and get your fingers used to "moving with purpose" on your instrument, to think When you're weary, feeling small... and immediately play it.
  • Don't be dependant on sheetmusic. Use it either to learn a new tune until you can sing it off by heart, or to figure out what the notes in that complicated passage are.
  • Work on all possible exercises, never spending too much time on any single one. This will prevent boredom and make you a better jack of all trades.
  • Learn the correct fingerings and work scales in all directions, especially those that are difficult.
  • Rock solid rhythm is not optional. Use a metronome.
  • There is very little you won't be able to achieve. Trust your ears, not sheetmusic and tuners.
  • Good posture prevents injuries.
  • Play slowly. No, slower! Now slow down by half again. If you can't play something well slowly, you're only kidding yourself that it sounds good when played fast.
  • Remember, this is supposed to be fun.