Become a better musician by practicing over background music

Practice over background music

Are you bored of doing the same warm-up exercises?

Do you want to improve your musicality and become a better musician?

I have been testing something the last weeks that I believe can help you.

The idea is very simple: practicing over background music.

It can be a song, a backing track. Whatever you like.

Watch the video:

Why practicing over background music?

Often when we practice, we tend to play over and over the same exercises, the same scales.

Let’s be honest, it can be boring at times. With time, it starts to become even a bit demotivating.

It might be the right time to spice up your game a little bit!

Why not change for something more fun?

Because making music is also about having fun, right?

If you do for example 5 or 10 minutes of warm-ups on your piano or any instrument by playing over some music, you’ll still be warming-up. But you may enjoy it more than the usual exercises.

Of course, after that you should do some more regular work with the metronome.

But there is much more than that.

I want you to try this for another reason.

Because it will improve your musicality.

You see, if you work only on technical exercises, you will eventually be a good technician.

Not a good musician.

I know that I won’t make me a lot of friends by saying this.

Hopefully, if you are still reading this, I can explain a bit further my point and maybe convince you.

Music is a way to express emotions, feelings.

Where are the emotions in a purely technical exercise at 117 bpm? Nowhere.

Techniques are tools to help you to express emotions.

That’s it. Tools.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against technique. I love that! I can enjoy a lot working on technical exercises.

If you don’t have a good technique, you won’t be able to express what you want.

Technical practice is the fundamental of any musician. So practice and practice again, consistently. I will never stress this enough.

But you need to be able to use those tools.

That’s where comes my idea (well I didn’t invent anything!) of practicing on background music.

You will use your technique in a musical context.

Play by varying the volume of the notes, their rhythm, to make them part of the music you put in the background. Or not.

You can be on purpose off-beat, slightly out-of-tune. Experiment, go wild on your instrument!

This a fun and freeing exercise, to do out the sometimes rigid framework of the lead sheet of a song.

And this is a good way to learn how to improvise.

How to do that?

Simple enough, go to YouTube, Spotify or Apple Music. Any music streaming platform. Or put a CD in your player if you still have one.

Go to your instrument and play some notes.

Don’t worry about playing wrong notes. Just try to play along the music.

Even a single note to start with. Feel the music and play that note with different rhythms, different intensity.

Then try to play a few notes. Or full scales.

Try particular techniques, such as arpeggios or trills.

And have fun!


Playing on background music can help you become better musicians by cultivating your musicality, your musical ear. Your sense of improvisation.

You will put in context your technique and start to use it to express a feeling. Making music.

A good step towards making your own music.

Try that for your next sessions and let me know in the comments what do you think!

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