For context, I am learning Western Classical Guitar and vocals and Indian Bambi Flute, and yes, it is 'Bamboo,' I affectionately call it Bambi because of how adorable I think my flute is. I have been practicing for about 2 years now. Initially, I learned a lot, but recently, I see little improvement in my technique/knowledge/skills. The only time I learned something is when I went for some music classes, which I am not able to afford at the moment (yes, I do epitomize the stereotype that musicians are deprived), where the tutor often closely analyzed my technique intricately such as elbow height and brightness of tone.

I want to practice, but without seeing any improvement, I don't feel very motivated to grind every day. I followed the comments in my previous question Is live streaming music while learning/practicing a good idea?, and installed Tonic. I will give it a try and see how it works out. But, prima facie, the way the app works, without real-time feedback, it is difficult to improve upon my skills. Further the app says little about what is the best practice strategy for me, like how to determine which scale or composition I should practice. My last music teacher paid attention to even minor details like the shape of my fingernails, which actually significantly improved my tone. At the moment, my musical journey has somewhat stagnated. Do you know of any way I can work on my technique and continue improving my skills?

  • Probably your best option is to make videos of yourself playing and compare those to people whose playing you really like. There’s no substitute for a good teachers though. Commented Feb 23 at 12:00
  • @ToddWilcox It isa good idea, but how do you propose I do that? Further, this would require significantly more time, which I could use on practice instead.
    – ananta
    Commented Feb 23 at 12:08
  • Most devices that can post on Stack Exchange can also record video. I was suggesting you make videos of yourself during practice. It shouldn’t require that much additional time. And more time is sometimes needed to improve. If you can’t devote 60-90 minutes a day for each instrument then I suggest you may plateau and struggle to move forward. Also you can buy books on technique and study them. Commented Feb 23 at 12:13
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because there are numerous other questions here on how to learn an instrument without a teacher. You can find them with a search for "without teacher".
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Feb 23 at 12:55
  • 2
    @PiedPiper There's even a tag self-learning with 250 questions Commented Feb 23 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


I would suggest you change your goals and change your approach. You've picked instruments from two "classical" traditions. Both Western and Indian Classical traditions emphasize virtuosity (i.e., the fact that you even have a goal of "improvement" is a cultural artifact), they primarily transmit knowledge through a teacher-student model, and they expect lots of "practice" (work in personal isolation, treated as a discipline). There have been and are many other musical cultures and contexts in which these things aren't true.

Think of the many "folk" music traditions, including with Western and Indian settings, or of informal "popular" musics. You see attitudes more like "Here's an instrument; see what you can do with it. If you don't take to it well, try a different one." Self-learning is more common in these contexts, or transmission from older musicians is less formalized and more communal (e.g. "I learned this technique from X one day, and this other one from Y," rather than a rigid one-on-one guru system). These systems often contain virtuosi of legendary skill, but ordinary musicians spend less time comparing themselves to each other. Performance, in these systems, is often less formal, more accessible, and "lower-stakes."

Of course, you picked these instruments because you presumably love them and their music, and maybe don't want to just play folk music. But I encourage you to adopt some of the things that make these other systems work.

  1. Most of all: Look for opportunities to make music with others. The most common problem with adult self-learners is the perception that they must get their skill to a certain level before "using it." But you hit a point of diminishing returns quickly with isolated practice. Look for chances for communal music-making. My dad, for instance, plays classical guitar in a local guitar ensemble group, playing duets and trios. This will not only be fun, but will advance your skill in ways that isolated practice is unlikely to. (You also train different skills when collaborating!)
  2. Try to shift your long-term goal from achievement to enjoyment. If you're not learning these instruments for profit, then the point is to have fun. Try not to delay this "fun" until you reach a certain skill. If you're not enjoying the approach your taking... then take a different one!
  3. Look for ways to learn from others besides one-on-one lessons. Some of the same opportunities that satisfy point #1 can also give you chances to learn, sometimes unconsciously.

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