4 Extra Skills Musicians Need to Play Well with Others

Collaboration among artists can give birth to some of the most innovative music – in fact, it can be hard sometimes not to find a hit song that doesn’t involve at least two singers or a “featured” artist.

While the outcome is typically positive, working with other musicians is no easy feat. Each of us has our own way of doing things and at times, straying from those routines can often be difficult to do.

So what is the best way to approach collaborative creativity? Here are 4 skills to practice that will help you and your fellow musicians get off on the right foot.

1. Exercise some patience.

Despite its virtuous qualities, having patience can be much easier said than done. Though there are plenty of ways to build a healthy bank of patience, working with fellow musicians, and artists in general, can deplete it rather quickly.

Practice taking some slow, calming breaths when you find yourself getting “worked up” about something. Slow your thinking processes down. It may even help to close your eyes momentarily to remove yourself (if only for a few seconds!) from the stressful situation you find yourself in.

2. Learn to be adaptable.

As human beings, we adapt to our surroundings naturally, though not always willingly. A big part of learning to adapt and accepting change has to do with keeping an open mind. Though it may be temporary, adapting to another musician’s creative process and meshing it with your own may be a big hurdle to overcome.

If things begin to get tense or the creativity becomes strained, consider trying something entirely new. Perhaps it would be better to come up with a completely different creative process rather than combining several. Whatever the change is that needs to occur, work together to tweak it so that everyone feels comfortable and knows their voice is heard.  

3. Make communication a priority.

Just as with pretty much every other relationship in life, communication in a collaborative community is key. In order to effectively balance your creative goals and those of your collaborators, there needs to be clear and consistent conversation.

It may seem cliche, but sometimes the safest thing to do is to over-communicate. It’s better to be accused of this than to be reluctant to share your side of the story.  

4. Try to have a sense of humor.

Perhaps the most important thing to do during this time is to have fun. Learn to not take things or to take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to pass this advice along to your fellow music mates if things are getting too intense.

Creating music with others yields something incredible, despite the initial obstacles. When you find a collaborative groove, the resulting art is an extraordinary achievement.

When all else fails: Stop. Collaborate. And listen. Who knew Vanilla Ice was so wise?

Share in the comments below if you have any helpful tips or advice for collaborating with other musicians.


Christopher Sutton is the Founder ofEasy Ear Training and Musical U where musicians candiscover and develop their natural musicality. Born and raised in London, England, he lives with his wife, daughter, and far too many instruments.


Well rounded advice … if we can do it Inside the music … we can do it in all the other parts of our lives. “ let the harmony prevail “

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