How To Communicate With Other Musicians – The Easy Way

 

As musicians; especially when we are just learning to play guitar we don't ever think about how important it is to be able to communicate with other musicians. Just like in life, being able to effectively communicate with those around you is a hugely important skill that has to be developed. 

It doesn't matter whether you are playing around the campfire with friends, going to local open mic nights to jam with other musicians in your area, gigs(either with your band, filling in with another band or having someone fill in with your band), recording in a studio, jamming with others at your house (or theirs), etc... There are many examples of times or situations you will be in where you will have to interact with other musicians. You will need to be able to effectively communicate with them and to be able to do so quickly.

Unfortunately we usually don't realize how important communication with other musicians is until we are put in a situation where we have to do it. That is the wrong time to realize that you have no idea how to communicate with the other musicians around you. 

 

What types of Things Do You Need To Be Able To Communicate?

 

In short- everything. It really does depend on the level of musicians that you are playing with. The more advanced the players, usually the more advanced the level of communication. If you are playing at a local open mic night; you need to be able to understand and communicate things like chords, keys, chord progression, changes, song starts, breaks, and ending. If you don't understand any of those things; you won't be able to sound your best when you're playing with those other musicians. It also doesn't make you look like a competent musician if you aren't able to understand what is going on around you. 

 

What Are Some Things You Can Work On Today? 

 

First you need to figure out where you are with being able to talk to other musicians. 

Do you know the names of all your open chords?

Do you know the names of bar chords?

Do you know different types of bar chords (Major, Minor, 7th) 

Do you know your keys or how to figure out what notes make up a key? 

Do you know understand what signals other musicians give to cue you to go back to a section of a song (Ex. Patting the top of their head to indicate that you are going back to the “top” (beginning) of the song

Do you know the signal to repeat something that you just played

These aren't all of the skill you will need but they are very important skill to have. If you don't know any of these things, start working on them now. If you aren't familiar with any of these things, don't worry about mastering everything all at once. List all of these skills and work on 2 or 3 of them each day that you practice. Keep track of your progress with a notebook and see how much progress you make even over the course of two weeks. If you have other friends who play an instrument, get together with them and jam, use the things on your list to communicate with them (Do some things on the fly and ask them to do the same for you). 

 

In Conclusion


Music has a language all to itself. It can be strange or maybe even intimidating to do at first but like when you first learned to speak as a child, once you get the hang of it, it will be effortless to do and you will enjoy playing music with others much more. If you can effectively communicate with other musicians, it also means that you have a very deep understanding of what it is that you are communicating. It's a win-win for everyone involved. 


Having trouble communicating with other musicians is an issue that we all face. The good news is the fix for this is very simple and you have the ability toeasily do it. If you are having trouble either communicating with other musicians or don't know how; find a local guitar teacher in your area who can help you. 

 

How great would it feel to know with 100% confidence that you can communicate with any musician, anywhere at any time? 

 

Byron Marks 

 

About the author: Byron Marks is a guitar instructor who teaches guitar lessons for beginners in Manchester, NH . Byron is committed to helping his students reach their musical goals and become the guitar players that they want to be.