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5 ways to get better at your instrument without playing it!

Look, we would all love to be playing guitar or piano (or whatever your chosen instrument) all day long! But unfortunately for most people this isn’t an option. The complexities of modern life mean that in between work, emailing, chores, driving, shopping, going to the gym and everything else you fill your day with it can be very difficult to find time to practice. 


But don’t fear!! We have come come up with 5 ways of getting better on your instrument without playing it!

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1. Listen to Music

Listening to music during your day, whilst at work, or whilst driving. Is a great way to get better at your instrument. Listen to the song you are learning or wanting to learn. Become familiar with the tempo, listen to the rhythms, listen to when the chords change and when it goes from one section to another.


Task - Put on a song you are learning. Whilst listening, tap along to the beat and count. If the song is in 4 count 1-2-3-4 or even better count 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-& or greater subdivisions. 

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2. Finger exercises

Finger exercises are something you can do pretty much anywhere. They are a great way to loosen up your fingers and get them used to working independently.


Task - For string players: number your fingers 1 to 4 and with the palm of your hand on a flat surface, run exercises over and over with a sequence of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 - 3 - 2 - 4, 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and so on. 

For pianists: number your fingers and thumbs 1 -2 - 3 -4 - 5 and run through some combinations such as 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, 1 - 3 - 2 - 4 - 3 - 5 and so on.

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3. Visualise your instrument

Thinking about your instrument and the way you play it is a great way to improve your playing. Think about the chord shapes and moving between them. Visualise scales, arpeggios, melodies, riffs and all the good stuff. By visualising your instrument you can gain a deeper connection with it and the results might surprise you.


Task -  When you can’t sleep or as you are drifting off to sleep, think of a piece of music you are learning, or would like to learn and visualise playing it.

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4. Watching live music!

Watching live music is the perfect way to improve your musicianship. By watching music you are seeing what musicians are doing right in front of you. You will also be exposed to different styles and sounds, this is very important if you want to become the best musician out there!


Task - Go and see a show that is a different style than you normally would. Whilst at the show, watch the person playing the instrument you play and try and figure out what they are playing. Identify chords or scales they might be using. Then go home and try and copy them.

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5. Read through some music

Always have a piece of music on hand, or take a picture of some music and have it on your phone. If you can find a few minutes during your day to look at it and analyse or think about it in detail then next time you sit down to play it you will find you are so much more familiar with it.


Task - Read through a new piece of written music. If you are still unsure of note names, then take the time to figure out what the notes are. If you are good at reading music then try and imagine how it sounds and how you would play it.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this has given you some new ways of practicing when you are not with your instrument! At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson completely FREE! So what better reason could there be to get started? We offer lessons in guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, vocals, songwriting and music theory. Click here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn


We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.