Guest Article: 10 Ways to Become a Better Musician this Decade

This RMS guest article is written by Jenny Maclay, a clarinetist and blogger based in Quebec.

Time flies when you’re making music, and ten years can make a huge difference in the life of a musician.  Here are 10 ways you can become a better musician in the next decade and beyond:

  1. Make a detailed list of your goals. You can’t expect to achieve your goals if you don’t have a clear idea of what they are and how to reach them. Take some time to write down any and all goals you hope to accomplish in the next ten years. For each goal, write down specific steps you can take to achieve it. Consult this list regularly to make sure you’re staying on track.
  2. Think outside the practice room. Build other tangential skills which can enhance your career, such as arranging, music technology, marketing, or anything else which might be useful for yourself or others.
  3. Update your press kit. If the last time you updated your press kit was at the beginning of the last decade, it’s time to hit refresh. Review your resume, biography, repertoire list, website, headshots, and any other press to make sure all information is updated and accurate.
  4. Embrace networking. Networking can easily get a bad reputation, but as the saying goes, it’s networking or not working! Try to connect with one person (digitally or IRL) each week to build your circle of colleagues and musical community.
  5. Re-evaluate your practicing skills. Start the new decade off with a practice audit. Record your practice sessions for a few weeks and listen to them carefully. Do you begin with a balanced warm up? Do you learn new music slowly and consistently? Are you incorporating enough repetitions so everything sticks? Be honest about your practice habits and you will reap long-term benefits.
  6. Embrace new experiences. As we get older, it’s only natural to gravitate towards the familiar. Commit to actively seeking out new musical experiences, whether you’re trying a new style, technique, teacher, school, ensemble, or even learning a new instrument!
  7. Find a mentor. The life of an artist is much richer with a trusted mentor to help guide you along your journey. Seek out teachers, friends, and colleagues who you respect and learn everything you can from them to help you along your path to success. (This works both ways – you can also serve as a mentor to other musicians in your community.)
  8. Schedule more performances. Music is meant to be shared with others, so vow to perform more during the next decade. Not only will you develop invaluable performance skills, but your audiences will be happy to hear more live music.
  9. Cultivate an interesting life outside the practice room. Music and life are symbiotic – your life experiences will enrich your music, and your music will in turn enrich your life. Practice diligently and consistently, but allow yourself to develop interests outside of music.
  10. Record your journey. There is no single path towards success, so record your experiences along the way. Write down daily ideas, music you would like to perform, repertoire to study, advice you have been given by others, and anything else you’d like to record for posterity. A musical journal or diary is a wonderful outlet, and it will be beneficial to look back and see how far you’ve come at the start of the next decade!


Happy New Year, and may this decade be your most musically rewarding yet!