What I wish I had known when I was growing up…

What I wish I had known when I was growing up as a young musician – Tom Hammond

Tom Hammond (not so young)

Stevie Wonder is cool.
Phil Collins is not.Scales are your friend, not your enemy. Try practising them starting at the top and coming down, and learn the hardest ones FIRST.Rhianna is cool.
Dido is not.

If you don’t already sing somewhere, find somewhere to sing. All of the best musicians I have had the privilege to work with have all had singing backgrounds (Cathedral choristers, Salvation Army choirs etc.)

Aretha Franklin is cool.
Miley Cyrus is not.

Learning how harmony works is crucial. Knowing what happens underneath the melodic line will so often tell you how to shape a phrase. Harmony is really, really interesting. Nobody told me that.

Maroon 5 are cool.
Jedward are not.

Play the piano, even if it’s badly (like me). You’ll find it mega-useful for so many things…. trust me, you will thank me for this later in life.

Pharrell Williams is cool.
Justin Bieber is not.

Playing loud, fast and high is fun. But it’s not necessarily music, and only really impressive to other people who play your instrument.

Lady Gaga is cool.
Posh Spice is not.

Learn to speak a foreign language and understand the grammar of that language. Knowing any one of the main Latin languages (Italian, French, Spanish) will make it easy to learn the others.

The Jackson Five are really cool.
One Direction are really not. And there’s only four them anyway.

Being able to sight-sing and transpose are vital if you want to conduct ensembles. These are both skills we can all learn, even if you find them tough to start with. Don’t give up on sight-singing, it’s incredibly useful to everyone.

Bruno Mars is cool.
Robin Thicke is not.

Start and end your practice sessions with something you enjoy and don’t need to analyse. Getting annoyed with yourself is pointless and can stop you wanting to do it.

Sam Smith is cool.
Kanye West is not.

Being able to sub-divide in your head whilst you play/sing is vital. Try doing some vocalised percussion sounds to practice this.

Tom Jones is cool.
Aled Jones is not.

Improvise. Start doing it now, even if it’s just riffing on Happy Birthday to You. Oh, and be able to play Happy Birthday and the National Anthem in any key, or you’ll have an embarrassing moment at some point in your life….

Ed Sheeran is cool.
Bono is not.

Music should always make you feel something. Love / Longing / Fear / Laughter.

Playing music is cool.
Not playing music is not.