When creating music, if you can sing it, you can play it… eventually.
While that statement is essentially true, it is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Thoughts can formulate in your head, but if you don’t know the language, you can not express yourself.
In college, students are are told that they do not have enough life’s experiences to have original thoughts. Let’s face it, from day one when you are born, you listen to words for many months before you ever utter one from your mouth…..Not very original I’m sure. Shortly after you started to use two and three word phrases but still no originality. Then you started reading short phrases like “See Spot Run”. This eventually evolves to longer sentences, complete paragraphs, and finally books of knowledge and wisdom.
How long does it take to say something truly new? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades? Of course all this is subject to debate. Well all this applies to playing and creating music.
First as a beginner musician, you learn to read, play, and interpret the written note. There we go again playing or saying, so to speak, someone else’s ideas. Very early on though, you might start to hear and experiment with simple note patterns internally and try to play them.
It might be a couple of simple licks you heard or played in the past. You put them together and see how it sounds and feels. Now this takes months and even years of practicing and just as importantly listening to what you play as well as what you hear around you. With modern day technology you can download, listen to, play along with, and even sing the original melodies.
The nice part is you can play songs or patterns over and over until you can’t stand hearing yourself playing it again. So you try something new you hear in your head, or a small pattern to apply from another song.
One of my favorite sayings is “Try something new. If it sounds good, REMEMBER IT! If it sounds bad, remember it too, and remember to NEVER PLAY IT AGAIN.”
Along the way you have to hone your skills of speaking on your instrument. Learn scales, both major and minor, in all keys, and licks you have heard played by others (also in all keys)
About two years ago I decided to analyze the opening theme to SNL. As impressive as it sounded, most of the licks LP played were very basic. He just played those licks on his tenor higher than most players can on alto sax.
Once you have enough licks under your belt, you will be able to mix and match patterns and maybe come up with new ideas of your own to express your personality.
But first learn to talk, and through the years the rest will fall into place.