Tips for Musicians

Here is a bunch of tips for musicians coming out of my experience over the last 4 decades.
I already threw them out through my twitter account...
Contact info: +31 654 310 214 -

Jeroen photo by Petra Beckers


- It's not about solos, it's about music.

- See what happens if you do not play at all in certain sections of a tune.

- Try your best to be understood by others, both musically and in 'regular' communication.

- There is not much to worry about as long as you are your own toughest critic.

- Take into account that getting to know your musical heroes personally may lead to some sort of disappointment.

- Being good @ something simple is more valuable than being not so good @ something complicated. Practice what you can handle.

- Keep in mind that there are VERY few artists that stick with the same people/team for a lifetime.

- Any person who tells you there is a lot of mystery about certain rhythms, styles, traditions et cetera is to be ignored.

- Not knowing at all what you want is as hard a deal as knowing exactly what you want.

- Make sure that greatness around you inspires instead of puts you down.

- It is never the technical abilities of someone that make him/her special, it's the guts to be personal and authentic.

- 1 minute (or even less) of a vacuum in time awareness while performing together is something to be very grateful for.

- Think a day ahead when you have a show. Scores, clothing, spare parts, snacks, MP3's of the repertoire, who to pick up etc...

- Don't kill yourself trying to be heard. If the engineer sucks, you have no chance. Just do your thing, enjoy the music.

- Check your heroes, the ones who write their own songs, to find out most of 'm don't recruit musicians from model agencies.

- When options and decisions take long it very often means that they will not book you in the end. Good news comes fast.

- Read a long and serious article about non music related matters in a serious newspaper when you can.

- Practice with 1 hand on your lap and 1 on your instrument, it shows you more in depth what you do with both sides separately.

- Good (a&r) music managers are OK with simple questions you may have for them. Distrust them when they're annoyed with you.

- In regular society people are to be trusted until proven dishonest, music managers are to be distrusted until proven honest.

- You sometimes learn more from clever people playing stupid music than from stupid people playing clever music.

- Think carefully about what happens in between songs when performing. You easily loose your audience in those silent moments.

- Think very carefully about the right tempo for songs. Use a metronome for counting in when playing live to be safe and cool.

- Forget the importance of your particular instrument, it's music itself that is important.

- Your (over)concentration on stage may make you look very unhappy. Try to keep that vibe away from your facial expression.

- Work on playing your instrument and make your instrument sound as if you speak. It's only another means of communication.

- The amount of hours you practice make the difference in how close your hands come to doing what your brain wants to hear.

- Practice + become friends with a clicktrack. It just helps you to be a little steadier while playing to be muted in the end.

- Simply say 'no' to people if you don't feel comfortable with the conditions under which they want you to perform for them.

- Unless you have a roady, pack and move your instruments from stage straight after the show when you are still energetic.

- Visualize complicated songs in your head, play 'm with your brain only, visualize your hands, your sounds, in/outro etc.

- Work on versions of songs in another time signature than the original. For instance a 3/4 version of a 4/4 original.

- When you get a chance, talk in depth to non playing music fanatics about why they like what in who.

- Rehearse @ a relaxed volume, listen to details in arrangements (like BD>bass groove). Go full blast once when you're happy.

- Also practice riffs, licks, scales et cetera while you do something else, like watching TV (soccer games in my situation).

- If there's a chance, ask up level guys what you really want to know honestly and strait. Often you'll get a helpful answer.

- 'Stage' is just another little spot on planet earth, no reason to be intimidated. It's a better place than a hospital IC.

- Remember that expectations live in your head, not in the heads of an audience, unless people show up for you personally.

- Practice music you work on in different tempos and at various volume levels. Try to give it as much impact in every setting.

- Focus on the 1st song of your concert and not on the problem in the (let's say) 5th song of the set.

- Buy the best instruments you can afford but remember that it is YOU that is responsible 4 the music, never the instruments.

- Keep in mind that 98% of a regular audience hasn't got a clue what's going technically. They just sense a vibe, which is OK.

- Put the tempo of a (or the next) song in your head way before you start, not just before. Unless you work with a metronome.

- While on stage, forget your mistakes and get on with it, keep playing open minded. Think about what went wrong afterwards.

- Don't hope to be cool by wearing sunglasses on stage.

- Express the hope to people that help you get your instruments into a place will also be there when you leave after the show.

- Simply thank people when they say they enjoyed the music. Don't share your trouble about (monitor)sound, shitty solos etc.

- Be the first one to arrive so you can get yourself the best space on stage, so you can shrink later when the rest arrives.

- Get serious about having your and all other monitors on stage as low as possible, and keep 'm that low during the show.

- Practice at home, try at rehearsals and forget about everything your hands (should) do on stage.

- The level you play at has no relationship with the fun that comes with playing.

- Be conscious of the extra little sounds you produce when playing. Decide to y/n include ghostnotes, slips, slides, skin etc. 

- Understand that 95% of what we do is called 'work' in other ('regular') parts of society.

- Guitarists!, but basically everyone, look around you as much as possible while on stage or in rehearsal.

- Think carefully about what you do with compliments.

- Try to have (@ least once) a personal conversation with your heroes; find out if they keep inspiring you after that meeting.

- Most important moment 4 earplugs: Soundcheck! That's when feedback occurs most. Fingers in your ears are always too late.

- The most important mistake we make is to be afraid to make mistakes. Music is there to be played fearless.

- Analyze all the parts in music you like '1 by 1' and try to understand why they played it like that and why with that sound.

- Put out of your head that substantial amounts of drugs and/or alcohol will do your performance any good, whatever the situation is.

- Remember why you wanted to be a musician. For most of us it was fun. Don't loose that basic element, fun. Do you know anyone who became a musician for financial reasons? 

Contact info: +31 654 310 215 -


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