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The Essence of Musicianship

Hey, shredders. Today I’m going to talk about what makes a musician. You know, there are so many guitarists (and bassists) out there who call themselves true musicians, yet they just practice just things like tapping and sweeping and various virtuoso stuff like that all day. Granted, that’s great and fun to do, but that’s not what musicianship is all about. Now, if you’re a culprit of this, I’m not ragging on you or anything, but I think you should look at this and maybe get something out of it. Keep in mind, this is highly beneficial to both rhythm and lead guitar, and even things like bass, piano, classical strings, and drums (all of which I play).

Okay, I’ve compiled a list of ten different dimensions of musicianship. These just came off the top of my head–there’s probably a lot more you can come up with and incorporate.

1) Technique – Is your position correct?

2) Tonality – Does your playing sound good overall? Is it clean? Is it articulate?

3) Rhythm – Are you keeping the tempo, or is it just a bunch of notes smeared together into an amalgamation of nonsense? (This is especially important in lead

4) Attitude – Is your posture okay? Are you presenting yourself well to your audience?

5) Concentration – Are you focused on your task? You can’t just be looking at shiny objects while you’re playing (for all you ADD people like me, ha ha!)

6) Feel – Are you into the groove? Are you loosened up?

7) Dynamics – Especially important. Do you change your volume during certain passages or is it just one “flat line” of volume (meaning it doesn’t fluctuate)?

8) Phrasing – Ties in with dynamics. It’s especially important in the more melodic passages that you phrase off at the ends of measures.

9) Confidence – Really important. Are you loose and flowing with the music or are you tense and nervous? This closely ties in with feel. Keep in mind, nobody’s going to care, let alone know if you screw up some notes. If you stumble, keep on going.

10) Creativity – Probably the most important. Develop your own style and your own music. Hey, go the extra mile–develop your own playing technique. When Jimi Hendrix played guitar with his teeth, that was HUGE creativity, because he had no one to copy from–it was his own thing.

Probably the most focused on dimension is the first one–technique. Granted, this is one of the most important things to think about when you’re playing, but that’s not all you need to focus on. You need to focus on ALL of these dimensions. When you get these things in line, only then can you be classified as a true musician.

I hope you find this informative and helpful to your pursuit of music. No matter what instruments you play–strings, percussion, brass, woodwinds, etc.–these are vital to your skills. I hope you can incorporate this into what you already know. If you can add more to this, hey, go right ahead. More power to you. Keep shredding, everyone.

-David K.

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