How to Overcome Obstacles To Progressing With Your Musical Instrument


I recently had the opportunity to meet with a number of didgeridoo players around the world who are seeking to improve their playing, learn to circular breathe, add new rhythms, and be able to share music with friends, family and other musicians. Each one was hitting a wall in some way. I had to ask myself, why am I seeing the same pattern with all these players?

What I found is that each person had gotten to a certain point with their playing and is now stuck, not knowing how to incorporate new rhythms, new sounds, master circular breathing or achieve the goals they set for themselves. What I heard from nearly every person is that he or she does not have enough support.

Without a teacher or community from whom to learn many people are turning to the internet for tutorial videos or are trying to figure it out on their own. After now seeing hundreds of didgeridoo players I can confidently say that everyone hits obstacles. In fact, trying to do it all alone is a greater expenditure than actually paying for classes or lessons, as players spend countless practice sessions in frustration over how to figure out their instrument.

A teacher can open your playing up to infinite possibility. I got serious about studying piano four years ago and I did not know how or what to practice. I tried checking out some videos and it led to a very slow rate of progression. So I decided to seek out a teacher, Alex Pryrodny, a pianist I already knew whose playing I greatly admired. We began with basic exercises and simple pieces, building blocks essential for my growth as a player. After learning each exercise he always has another one, and each piece mastered lends itself to the next, more challenging and equally rewarding. Now I can play four of Bach’s Inventions for piano and have written a number of original piano compositions.

One of the greatest aspects of studying with a music teacher is learning how to continually be inspired. After each lesson with my piano teacher I come away with a renewed sense of possibility and inspiration. If I sit down at the piano the week after a lesson and play, there are so many fresh ideas to work on and it all seems so natural. However, when I practice after not having a lesson for a month or more, I work through some music but then quickly run out of ideas. It’s like I don’t really know where to take my playing any more. The teacher is able to see the student exactly where he or she is at give the most effective guidance.

Don’t have a teacher? Find a supportive community or another player who is at a higher level than you. This is the #1 way to improve yourself as a player.

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AJ Block is the director of Didge Project and is active as a didgeridoo teacher and performer. In addition to didgeridoo, AJ has spent years studying music traditions from all over the world including jazz (trombone and piano), western classical music, Indian Classical Music, guitar and world percussion. AJ has developed a number of programs for Didge Project including The ABCs of Didgeridoo, The Didgeridoo Skills Course, and Circular Breathing Mastery. He is also the author of Didge For Sleep, a didgeridoo learning method designed specifically for people with Sleep Apnea. As a performer AJ is the leader of the Didge Project Music Collective and a member of Dream Seed: A Shamanic Sound Journey. AJ is a founding member of Sacred Arts Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred art traditions through education, ritual and study. As a student of spiritual teacher Maestro Manuel Rufino AJ is an active member of the Golden Drum community.