To become a musician you'll need humility (music is huge subject and there's a lot to learn), patience (fingers can be dumb), persistence (brain can be slow sometimes), and passion (for inspiration's sake!).
Humility, patience, persistence and passion. Check mark on all four?
Great! The above four things get you in the door.
Now, read further to discover what to do to become a great musician...
Wise Up: Learn what you need to learn..
You have to learn to play your chosen instrument which will not be easy.
Yes, you need take some lessons or teach yourself a bit of music theory at least to start off with, the more you know about music the better.
You'll want to learn about music notes, chords, scales, tempo and time signatures. You don't have to be able to read music scores to play an instrument well though it can't hurt to be able to sight-read music.
A good knowledge of different styles of music and of the history of music will also help you become a better musician.
You can always learn more about music theory, music history and your chosen instrument or instruments. You want to therefore adopt the habit of the eternal student should you wish to become a musician of note.
Knowledge alone does not however make you a musician. You need to...
Hone Your Chops: Practice until you get the feel for it and...
... then practice some more!
You will with practice be able to go from non-musician to musician to great musician.
Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hours of practice you
need become great at what you do in his book Outliers. The book explains
how Mozart, the Beatles, and other great artists all went through at
least 10,000 hours of practice and performance before they produced what
we consider to be their greatest works.
You may or may not agree with the number, though you can not avoid the
fact that to become even just a good musician takes practice.
You can not practice too much, so...
... set aside as much time as you can afford to practice your instrument on a regular basis.
You need more than just knowledge and practice to become a musician.
You also need to...
Pay Your Dues: Perform as much as possible...
Practice gives you the ability to perform and only performance gives you a feel for how to connect to an audience and entertain them, so...
... take advantage of every opportunity you get to perform live, even when you receive no payment for it at first.
Play for friends and family, play at coffee shops, and open mic nights.
Playing to people will in time improve your ability to entertain because you quickly learn what works and what doesn't and then adjust your performance to make it better.
So, play wherever you can and...
Listen: Train your ears to hear...
Listen to different types of recorded music, listen at shows and gigs, listen when you play, listen to what musicians say about your playing and listen when experienced musicians speak about their craft.
You can use different ear training programs to sharpen your ability to hear the finer nuances in music and distinguish elements others don't even perceive.
Your ability to listen to music with awareness will translate into direct improvements of your playing as you learn to listen to the sounds and music you produce with the same fine-tuned ears.
You must therefore cultivate your ability to listen before you can become a musician who produces great works. You want to be a great musician don't you?
Aim For Greatness: You may as well...
Life is short and it's not a dress rehearsal.
When you pick up an instrument to become a musician you involve yourself with an activity which may be older than language itself.
Music is magic because it can transform the spirits of humans who hear it.
You are no different from Beethoven, the Beatles or Bob Marley, so...
... don't let them fool ya!
Do your 10,000 hours, pay your dues and strive to master your craft.
The world can sure do with more great musicians and composers.
Will you be one of them?
Remember, a symphony or song is not about getting to the final cymbal crash. Savor and enjoy every moment of your journey to musical virtuosity!