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What Makes a Musician a Musician?

Musician sitting in front of a drum set

Are you interested in being an audio producer and do you enjoy playing music? Do you consider yourself a musician? There are millions of people who would call themselves musicians, and even more who aspire to be one. To some, the act of creating music is the most natural thing in the world; to others, it seems like a distant dream.

Luckily, music isn’t genetically selective. While there are those that are born with a special gift, if you were not, there is no reason to completely write off the possibility of becoming a musician. With hard work, practice, and dedication, anyone can call themselves a musician, and it can be a highly rewarding career if you’re lucky and you work hard at it.

What is a Musician?

Technically speaking, a musician is anyone who plays a musical instrument. Some would narrow this definition to someone who is particularly talented or plays professionally. However, there isn’t a reason to exclude anyone who enjoys playing a tune regardless of their skill level, the type of sound equipment they use or the quality of their performance. Bestowing amateurs with this title can help lift them up and inspire them to push themselves at every practice session.

What it Takes to be a Musician

The greatest musicians make creating music look easy. When done at an expert level, playing even the most demanding pieces will seem effortless. The musician’s sound, as uninhibited by physical limitations as possible due to countless hours of practice, will soar across different emotions and might seem limited only by the instrumentalist’s creativity and expressiveness.

In a world where digital instruments and automatically generated rhythms are becoming more and more common, it can be easy to forget just how hard playing a real physical instrument with proficiency can actually be. In order to be a true musician, you have to spend large portions of your time perfecting your craft. The most successful instrumentalists are the ones who cherish even their most tedious practice sessions.

Keeping Practice Sessions Productive

How is it possible to actually enjoy sitting in a room for hours on end, playing the same tune over and over? There are a variety of tricks and tips to keep the brain fully and actively engaged for every single note.

Probably the most important key to keeping practice sessions as efficient as possible is to not attempt a marathon each time. There are times in almost every musician’s life in which they have to learn a large portion of new music in a very short amount of time. It’s good to stretch your concentration (and fingers, or whatever other body parts are involved in your particular instrument) and push yourself to the limits. However, for general daily practice, a more moderate regime is preferred.

If you’re able to sit down for 15 minutes a day to focus on one part of a track, this is a great place to start. Other people need even shorter chunks of time, and that’s perfectly fine too. The key is to find the point at which your mind starts to wander. That means it’s time to get up, do something else, and get back to it when your brain is willing to cooperate.

Practice Makes Perfect

Another important aspect of practicing is making sure you’re practicing something correctly. Anyone who’s ever analyzed human habits knows just how hard it is to break a habit once it’s formed. The process of practicing is essentially very fine-tuned habit forming.

If you play a bad note just once in your practice session, you haven’t done much to build up a bad habit. However, if you rush through the same section repeatedly and keep playing the wrong note over and over, you’ll have built up a habit that you’ll have to unlearn before you can start practicing it the right way.

What’s Great About Being a Musician

Some people think of musicians and imagine a life of sleeping all day, spending all night out at bars, theaters, and nightclubs, and living by their own set of rules. The reality isn’t always as glamorous, but some of the more successful musicians do enjoy many perks that come with their job.

One of the most obvious attractants to being a professional musician is the constant opportunity to do what you love. While there are always going to be times when you have to work hard for your craft, it’s always gratifying at the end of the night when you know you’ve played a really great show and you’ve made a lot of people happy. It’s also nice when you can improve your musical ability and get paid for it at the same time.

But being a musician doesn’t always mean getting paid for it, as we’ve established. That being said, there are still countless benefits to being an amateur musician or audio producer in your spare time. The therapeutic benefits of expressing yourself in song are immense, and there are even elements of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills that can improve when you play regularly. These also come in handy on a sound board or synthesizer.

Whether you’re playing on stage for hundreds of people or playing in your living room for your cats, there is a lot to love about being a musician.


It’s not always necessary for musicians to play more than one instrument, but it can definitely help. The most important thing is that you’re proficient on your main instrument and always ready to give your best performance. As any musician knows, it doesn’t take too much time of musical idle to lose your playing chops. Audio producers should also learn how to play an instrument as there is nothing like learning the real thing before you create the track in a digital audio workstation (DAW).


Certain qualities can definitely help to boost a musician’s career. Stage presence is essential for anyone who is performing live. Particularly in more intimate settings, being able to read and connect with your audience, and then respond to what they say and do, can completely change the vibe of a show.

For many performers, it’s common to end up playing in a wide variety of venues. Being flexible with how you put together your show and how you interact with the audience is an absolute must for any musician or audio producer. And with the exception of soloists, most performers are going to expect to work with others on a regular basis. This means having good people skills so that you can get along with your musical colleagues and avoid any drama. It’s much better when everybody’s emotions can be focused on the music itself, creating the most beautiful end product together, in perfect harmony.

It also can’t be stressed enough how important it is for a musician or audio producer to always be on time , not just rhythmically, but to actually make it to all their gigs with enough time to get set up and fully comfortable in the space.

You Have to Have the Passion

With all the talk about anyone having the ability to be a musician or audio producer, the true musicians do seem to be touched by something extra. That special gift appears to come simply from that person’s love of and desire to make music. Without passion, it’s hard to find a reason to drag yourself out of bed at five in the morning just to get a tiny bit better. You have to need it in your very heart and soul to keep the drive your whole life.

Many people go through phases of wanting to learn an instrument, which is a beautiful thing. But then there are others who are touched by the Angel of Music their whole life and never want to put their instrument down.

Musicians and Audio Production

The relationship between audio producers and musicians is always going to be a tight one. It can be said that both instrumentalists and audio producers “make” music, but the way that it happens, and the end result couldn’t be more different. There is a definite synergy between the two roles since you certainly couldn’t have audio producers without musicians, as they would have nothing to produce, and musicians wouldn’t be able to get their full vision out without the help and expertise of audio producers.

It’s extremely useful for musicians of all kinds to learn as much as they can about audio production. And for an audio producer to understand the mechanics of playing an instrument. This knowledge gives them the tools to build their idea the way they want to. Once you understand the basics of audio production, there is a whole new world of creativity and expression just waiting to be explored.

Audio Production Program

The Audio Production and Engineering Program  at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.

At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the audio production programs and starting a rewarding career.