Whether you’re a singer, music producer, or musician, the music industry is extremely competitive. As such, it’s imperative for musicians to improve and hone their craft continually. Few people can attest to this more than music industry veteran Martin Backhausen. Over his 30-year career, Backhausen has played in bands and traversed the music industry in different capacities. When he isn’t creating music, he acts as a mentor and coach for musicians looking to advance their careers. Here are three of the top tips he shares with mentees and students.

Martin Backhausen's 3 Unconventional Tips for Becoming a Conventionally Better Musician

Take Professional Music Lessons to Bolster Your Music Skills

Self-taught musicians are special. There are well-known examples of exceptional musicians who have never taken a single lesson. However, these people are often the exceptions. There are infinitely more examples of self-taught musicians who never achieve their full potential. If you are a self-taught musician, taking lessons can help you climb to the next level.

Backhausen, a skilled music coach, explains, “The right music teacher can prevent you from forming bad habits, teach you proper technique, help correct bad habits, and give you the confidence to perform well in real-world situations.” One added bonus of taking professional music lessons is your teacher can double as a mentor and source of inspiration.

Embrace Music Knowledge from Unconventional Sources

Even the best and most accomplished musicians always look for new learning opportunities. Simply put, true artists never stop absorbing ideas and knowledge to enrich their minds. However, you don’t always get to dictate the source of inspiration. More so, you should never discount unconventional sources of inspiration and wisdom.

Martin Backhausen explains, “Everyone represents the opportunity to teach you something. While some people can help you learn what to do, others may clearly delineate what you shouldn’t do. Even if someone has never played an instrument, they may know a lot about discipline. Always capture what you can learn from your personal life and look to apply it as a musician.”

Learn How to Accept Criticism

Everyone loves to hear “attaboy” or “attagirl” from time to time. While the pat on the back is nice, it’s not always the reality for musicians. Sometimes, you will receive what may seem like negative criticism. Many musicians tend to avoid those who may offer this type of valuable but critical feedback. If you want to reach your full potential and improve, you must be open to receiving critical feedback and acting on it.

It’s worth noting that not all critical feedback is 100% accurate, and you should always consider the source. But if several people suggest you’re playing a chord wrong, there’s a good chance you’re on the wrong note. Martin Backhausen continues, “The trick with criticism and feedback is to always listen. Even if most of the feedback is completely invalid and off base, there is usually some nugget wrapped in it that you can turn into an actionable improvement, so keep your ears and heart open.”