The 79 Must-haves for Musicians

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As a professional musician, you know that your instrument is only one part of the equation. To be a great performer, songwriter, composer, or music producer your talent and skillset have to combine with a variety of external tools that help you find your voice within this amazing artistic domain.

You need much more than just an instrument to take your musical talent to the next level. A wide variety of music accessories, books, apps, gear, software, and lifestyle choices are essential to hone your craft and become the musician you aspire to be.

In this article, I will list some of the most important resources and pieces of equipment that will help you get the most out of your talent and achieve the musical goals you have set for yourself.

What are the 105 must-haves for musicians?

To keep things organized, let’s break down this list into the following categories of must-haves for musicians:

  1. Music Accessories
  2. Books
  3. Gear For Live Performance
  4. Home Studio Gear
  5. Apps and Websites
  6. Lifestyle Choices.

These items will help you further your learning, inspire you to evolve, structure your practice, and give you the necessary tools to shine in live performance, studio settings, and during composition and production sessions.

Music accessories

1. Strings

Musicians who take their craft seriously know that strings are a vital part of their toolkit, and they invest in high-quality strings that will help them sound their best. Change your strings regularly and make sure you always have spare sets of strings both at home and in your instrument case.

2. Clip tuners

Clip tuners are a must-have for any musician. These small, lightweight devices attach to the instrument and provide an easy and accurate way to tune up in real-time before a performance or a recording. Clip tuners are especially convenient for musicians who travel frequently, as they can be easily packed away in a case or gig bag. In addition, most clip tuners are relatively inexpensive, making them a great option for musicians on a budget. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, a clip tuner is an essential piece of equipment for any musician.

3. Picks

For guitarists and bassists, picks are essential for creating the perfect sound. Made from different materials like plastic, wood, metal, or stone, picks come in a variety of shapes and thicknesses, each with its own unique properties. The material and thickness of a pick can greatly affect the tone of the music and feel more or less comfortable when held depending on the player’s preferences. For example, a thinner pick will create a brighter sound, while a thicker pick will produce a fuller sound. The shape of the pick also makes a difference. A sharp-edged pick will have a more defined attack, while a rounded pick will create a softer attack when hitting the strings. By experimenting with different picks, musicians can find the perfect combination to create their ideal sound.

4. Drum sticks

Drumsticks are an essential accessory for drummers, providing the necessary contact point between the instrument and the player. Without drumsticks, musicians would be unable to produce the desired sound from their drums. In addition, drumsticks come in a variety of sizes and materials, allowing players to choose the perfect pair for their playing style.

Whether it’s hardwood for a bright sound or synthetic for a more controlled attack, drumsticks give musicians the opportunity to express their individuality through their choice of accessories. With such a vital role in the performance of drums, it’s no wonder that drummers take great care in choosing their sticks. And make sure you always have plenty of spare sticks in your gig bag!

5. String winder

Replacing strings is seen as a chore by many musicians. With the aid of a string winder, restringing your instrument will be a lot faster. I would suggest finding a product that includes both a pin to extract the strings from the bridge ( acoustic guitars) and a steel wire cutter in case you need to remove the ball-end part of the string. Nowadays it is easy to find a one-in-all string winder that is suitable to restringing guitars, basses, mandolins, and banjos.

6. Tuning key for drummers

All drummers should have a tuning key to keep their drums in tune for performances or rehearsals. It is easy to find tuning electric screwdrivers on the market that are compatible with all fixing screws in standard drumset. This helps you save time on maintenance so that you can have more time to play.

7. Instrument hard case

Protect your instrument with a carrying case. This will keep your instrument safe when you’re travelling to and from gigs, and will also help you keep all of your accessories organized in one place. Make sure you invest in a great quality case if your performing career requires you to fly regularly.

8. A strap

If you play a guitar or bass, a strap is essential if you want to play standing up. Not only will it keep your hands free while you play, but it will also help you avoid dropping your instrument and keeping it securely fastened. Playing standing up is also great for overall posture as it is easier to keep your back straight and avoid injuries over time.

9. Strap Locks/Blocks

Straps locks or blocks are an essential accessory for any musician who plays standing up. Without strap locks, your strap could easily come undone and your instrument could slip, fall and get damaged. If you are an engaging and energetic performer who loves moving around on stage, then strap locks will keep your instrument securely in place.

10. Guitar capo

A capo is a handy tool that allows you to change the key of your instrument without having to retune your strings. This is especially useful if you’re playing with singers who sometimes need to change the key of a song to find the tonality that fits well within their range. In addition, guitar capos allow you to create unusual sounds and can foster your creativity. Make sure to check out my article on the best guitar capos of 2022.

11. Notebook

How do we keep track of our progress, structure our learning effectively, and set short-term and long-term goals? A great idea is to keep a journal of all things music in your life.

To many, this may sound old school, but there is something quite special in compiling a journal entry at the end of a practice session, a band rehearsal, or a great gig (or bad ones too). It feels good to tick the boxes so to speak especially because you are investing a lot of time and energy in pursuing your dream.

Under other circumstances, you may need to write down the feelings associated with music that you are experiencing at different points in your life. It is a great way to learn and grow and keep track of the different phases of your development. And remember that all successful people are well organized and set goals in place.

Music books

There is a wide variety of literature written on many topics that fall under the music category.

Books can improve your understanding of music theory, help you develop new skills, implement different practice strategies, enhance your performance ability, and provide insight into the lives of famous artists.

Other material focuses on the philosophical side of things, which can be powerful in terms of fueling your inspiration and passion to strive for higher grounds. No matter what your level of experience or expertise is, there is always something new to learn from a good music book. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

12. Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner

Effortless Mastery is a book written by jazz pianist Kenny Werner that offers a unique approach to learning and practising music. The book provides practical advice on topics such as goal setting, practice routines and the psychology of performance.

Musicians should be able to play as naturally and easily as taking a breath, but sadly, many of them struggle with self-consciousness, anxiety, self-doubt, and stress. If we want to express ourselves openly through music, we need to first learn to calm our minds and overcome the outside factors that can make performing difficult.

The many techniques and exercises included in this book are essential for achieving maximum benefit from it. It will assists you on your road to self-mastery, allowing your natural creative potential to flow freely with little stress or effort. An online link is provided to audio meditations designed to begin positive thinking that may be used in conjunction with the book.

Many musicians have credited this book with changing their lives, and it’s become a favourite of mine as well.

13. The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein

The Musician’s Way is a book written by musician and author Gerald Klickstein that offers a comprehensive guide to becoming a successful musician. The book covers topics such as practice routines, performance anxiety, and the business of music. The Musician’s Way is a great choice for those who are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to success in your music career.

14. This is Your Brain on MusicI

This is a fascinating book on the topic of music and the brain written by Daniel J. Levitin. The book covers a wide range of topics, such as how different elements of music affect our brains, how we learn to play music, and how music can be used for therapeutic purposes.

Levitin is a neuroscientist who has conducted extensive research on the neurological effects of music. He provides a wealth of information that is both fascinating and easy to understand. He also includes interviews with professional musicians and discusses how they use music to achieve their desire to express themselves.

I highly recommend this book as it is a great resource for both musicians and non-musicians alike, and it will give you a greater understanding of the amazing ways in which our brains process music.

15. Art Of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart by Madeline Bruser

The Art of Practicing is a book written by pianist Madeline Bruser that offers advice on how to practice effectively and make music from the heart. The book covers topics such as goal setting, effective practice strategies, and performance anxiety.

This book is full of great advice that is both practical and easy to understand. Bruser offers a wealth of experience and knowledge, and she provides readers with valuable insights into the process of making music. The Art of Practicing is an essential guide for any musician who wants to take their playing to the next level.

16. The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Music is a book written by musician and author Barry Green that offers advice on how to overcome mental obstacles, such as self-doubt, fear of failure, and nervousness, that prevent us from our full potential. The book also presents exercises that are designed to nurture qualities such as focus, relaxation, and self-confidence. The Inner Game of Music is a great choice for those who are looking for a practical guide to overcoming the mental obstacles that get in the way of reaching their highest level.

17. The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor L. Wooten

This amazing book was written by bassist and author Victor L. Wooten and offers a unique approach to learning music. The book covers topics such as the connection between music and spirituality, the power of intention, and the importance of practice. This book is a great choice for those who are looking for a unique approach to learning music. The story revolves around the relationship between an aspiring musician and his mentor. It is full of inspiring passages and deep insight that will fuel your creativity and drive.

18. The Songwriter’s Workshop: Melody by Jimmy Kachulis

The Songwriter’s Workshop is a book written by Berklee professor Jimmy Kachulis and it offers advice and practical strategies on how to write better melodies. The book covers topics such as the importance of melody, how to create catchy hooks, and common mistakes that songwriters make.

Kachulis offers a wide range of daily exercises and assignements so that you can practice your songwriting on a daily basis, the same way an instrumentalist would tackle his or her daily practice routines.

If you are into writing your music and want to improve your abilities as a songwriter, then look no further.

19. The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony by Jimmy Kachulis

This fantastic book by Kachulis allows you to strengthen your understanding of the other key ingredient to becoming a good songwriter: harmony. This volume includes a variety of topics focusing on chord progression, common chord patterns found in popular songs, techniques to embellish your chord palette, and overall ability to create more interesting and colourful sounds.

20. The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine

The Jazz Theory Book is a book written by jazz musician and educator Mark Levine that offers a comprehensive guide to jazz theory. The book covers topics such as intervals, chord progressions, scales, improvisation, and the history of jazz. You will learn a wide range of phrases, melodies, and chord voicings found in the jazz repertoire and learn how to apply them to your vocabulary.

If you are serious about understanding the depth of jazz harmony and improvisation, this is a book to add to your collection.

21. Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression by W.A. Mathieu

This book offers a very interesting perspective on many aspects of music and harmony, from its beginnings to modern times. Mathieu particularly stresses the importance of how sounds are felt by individuals and how this emotional bond with music was crucial in crafting the sounds we created as a species.

The book covers topics such as the history of tonal harmony, just intonation, equal temperament system, the physics of sound, and the psychoacoustic effects of music. It aims at offering a unified perspective that includes acoustics, spirituality, and emotion, as well as many musical traditions.

22. How to Improvise: An Approach to Practicing Improvisation by Hal Crook

This book was written by jazz musician and educator Hal Crook and offers a practical guide to improvisation. The book has been a milestone in improvisation techniques for over three decades and is one of the core pieces of literature at Berklee College of Music.

One of the greatest concepts explained by Crook is the mindset of approaching soloing as the alternation of play vs rest. The pauses between musical phrases are moments in which you can gather your thoughts again while the music has space to breathe. It is an amazing approach that has helped me with developing my improvisation style immensly.

More topics include ear training, chord progressions, soloing, pentatonic scale applications, and the art of listening. It also includes transcribed solos and exercises to help you practice and expand your musical vocabulary. If you are serious about improvisation and mastering the ability to solo over chord changes, this book is a true gem.

23. Modern Reading Text by Louis Bellson

This book is an amazing resource for learning how to read rhythms on any instrument and improving awareness of timing. Every example is in a 4/4 time signature and is presented in every possible way that the same rhythm can be written. A must-have if you plan to take your ability to play syncopated rhythms and reading skills to the next level.

24. BIographies / Autobiographies

If you are passionate about music and any artists or bands in particular, then I would encourage anyone to read biographies and autobiographies of those musicians if available. The lives of your favourite artists are usually full of interesting stories, struggles, and of course success. It is great to take a peak into the life of one of your heroes and get a sense of the person behind the public persona.

Gear for Live Performances

Playing live is one of the main reasons why we all got into music in the first place. To deliver a great show, it is important to rely on first-class gear so that the quality of the music that reaches the audience will be amazing. In addition, you want your act to look professional so it is important to have all the right tools to impress your listeners.

25. PA system

If you’re playing at a venue that doesn’t have its own sound system, a portable PA system is a must. It will give you everything you need to get your music heard, and will also save you from having to rent or borrow equipment. Depending on the size of your musical act, you may decide to buy a battery-powered PA system which will give you the freedom to set up anywhere.

26. Mixer

Musicians need the right tools to put on a great show. A mixer is one of the most essential pieces of equipment for live musicians. It allows musicians to control the levels of each instrument and vocal track, ensuring that everything is balanced and sounds great.

Without a mixer, it would be very difficult to create a polished sound. In addition, mixers also allow musicians to add effects to individual tracks, such as reverb or delay. This can help to create a more dynamic and interesting soundscape. All in all, a mixer is an essential piece of equipment for any musician who wants to put on a great live performance.

27. An amplifier

If you’re playing an electric instrument, an amplifier is a necessity. It will make your instrument louder and will also allow you to add effects. If you’re playing in a band, make sure you choose an amplifier that complements the sound of your instrument.

28. Cables

Cables are essential for any musician who uses electric instruments or amplified sound. Make sure you have the right cables for your equipment, and always keep a few extras on hand in case of emergencies. Invest in great quality leads as they will contribute to improving your sound and will last a lot longer than cheap cables.

29. Cable ties

Elastic cable ties are the solution for musicians who have to carry numerous cables to gigs, rehearsals, or just around their homes. These low-cost ties are designed with musicians specifically in mind… They can be fastened onto any standard sized cable and include a rubber tie which grips tight.

30. A power strip/extension cord

If you’re using multiple electronic devices, a power strip will save you from having to constantly plug and unplug them. This is especially useful if you’re playing at a venue with limited outlets. And make sure to have an extension cord at hand when performing at private events, such as weddings and parties. Murphy’s law will make sure that the hosts will want the band to set up as far as possible from the closest power outlet.

31. Music stand

Music stands are one of the most essential accessories for professional musicians, as they provide a place to put sheet music while performing. Music stands come in a variety of sizes and styles, so musicians can choose the option that best fits their needs. Some music stands are portable, making them ideal for musicians who travel frequently.

Other music stands are more heavy-duty, making them ideal for musicians who need a sturdy stand for their performances. Don’t forget to bring paper clips or pegs to secure your sheet music, especially when performing outdoors. You never know when the next gust of wind is going to ruin your performance!

32. Tablet stand / Tablet holder

Nowadays, many performing musicians prefer to read music through their tablets. Make sure you buy good quality and solid tablet stand. Alternatively, you can purchase a tablet holder that can be securely attached to your mic stand thanks to an ergonomic and sturdy clamp screw.

These accessories may be more pricey than you may think, but remember that they hold an expensive piece of equipment and as such, they need to be safe, secure, and reliable.

33. A keyboard stand

If you play the keyboard, a stand is a must. It will keep your keyboard at the perfect height for playing, and will also free up space on your desk or stage particularly if you have more than one keyboard in your live rig.

34. Instrument stand

No matter what you play, it is necessary to have a good quality stand for your instrument. A stand will keep your instrument safe and keep it out of the way when you’re not playing. It will make you look more professional and keep the stage or performing space looking nice and tidy.

35. Drum throne

If you play drums, a throne is an essential piece of equipment. It will keep you comfortable while you play, and will also help you avoid back pain.

35. Microphones

If you’re a singer, a microphone is a necessity. Make sure you choose the right type of microphone for your needs, and always keep a spare on hand in case of emergencies.

Even if you are an instrumental band, a microphone is a must-have accessory as it allows you to communicate with your audience particularly if you are performing in noisy settings.

35. Batteries

Always be prepared with batteries. If your instrument or equipment uses AA or AAA batteries, make sure you have a few extras on hand so you’re never caught without power. This is particularly important if you have pedals as you never know when a power issue may strike next.

Wireless transmitter

For many musicians, a wireless transmitter is an essential piece of gear. It allows them to move freely around the stage without being tethered to their instruments, giving them the ability to interact with the audience and put on a more engaging performance.

In addition, a wireless transmitter can help to reduce stage clutter by eliminating the need for long cables. This is especially important for live shows, where every inch of stage space is at a premium. When used in conjunction with other wireless technologies, such as in-ear monitors, a wireless transmitter can help to create a more seamless and professional live show.

36. Floor monitors

Floor monitors are an essential part of any musician’s live performance setup. There are several reasons for this. First, monitors allow musicians to hear themselves clearly onstage, which is important for both staying in tune and keeping the performance tight.

Second, monitors help musicians to stay aware of the other instruments and voices in the mix, ensuring that everyone is working together to create a great sound. Last, monitors can help prevent feedback by providing a clear reference point for musicians to base their sound levels on.

37. In-ear monitors

In-ear monitors are an essential tool for live musicians. They allow the performer to hear their own instrument or voice in the mix, which is crucial for a tight, polished performance. They also help to protect the musician’s hearing from the loud sound of the amps and PA system.

In-ear monitors come in different styles and sizes, so it’s important to find a pair that is comfortable and fits well. There are also wireless in-ear monitors available, which can be a great option for active performers.

Overall, in-ear monitors are a vital accessory for any musician who wants to sound their best in live performances.

38. Earplugs

Musicians often wear earplugs during live performances to protect their hearing. The noise from the instruments and amplifiers can be deafening, and exposure to this level of noise can damage the ear over time.

Earplugs help to reduce the noise level and to make the loudness of the music more bearable for the performers. In addition, earplugs can help to reduce feedback from the monitors and other onstage sound sources. This is especially important for drummers and bass players, who are often positioned in front of the speakers. By wearing earplugs, musicians can protect their hearing and enjoy better live performances.

39. Pedals

Pedals are essential tools for live musicians because they provide a wide range of sounds and effects that can be used to enhance their performance. Pedals also allow musicians to control their sound in a live setting, which is essential for creating a dynamic and engaging show.

Pedals come in many different types, each with its own unique capabilities. For example, delay pedals are commonly used to create Echo effects, while reverb pedals can be used to create a “spacious” sound. Many pedals offer more specialized effects, such as wah pedals, pitch shifters, and other type of modulation such as chorus, flanger, and phaser.

40. Pedalboard

If you are a fan of pedals for their ability to create interesting sounds and textures, then it is wise to keep all your favourite toys in a pedalboard. This will ensure that all your pedals are organized and patched neatly, thus saving you time during your setup.

41. Hard cases

If you carry a lot of expensive gear to your shows, then it is important to invest in some quality hard cases to protect your valuables. This will become even more crucial when you embark on touring which may result in taking domestic and international flights to your next show.

42. Duct tape

Duct tape is essential for any musician, as it can be used for a variety of purposes. From fixing broken equipment to holding down cables as a safety measure, duct tape is a versatile accessory that every musician should have in their gig bag.

43. Insurance

If you plan to be a professional musician, then your instrument is your livelihood. That’s why it is wise to insure your instruments. Insurance will protect you in the event that your instrument is lost, stolen, or damaged during a show or while on tour.

I know a few musicians who’ve had their gear stolen or damaged and it is a devastating event. Although the emotional value of your instrument can never be replaced, at least the insurance will compensate for the financial loss you have endured.

44. PublicLiability

Unfortunately, live performances can sometimes lead to accidents. A spilled drink, a faulty piece of equipment, or even a slip, trip and fall can all result in injuries or damage to property.

That’s why it’s so important for musicians to have public liability insurance. This type of insurance protects them from financial losses if they are sued for damages arising from an accident during a live performance. Whether you plan on touring the country or playing a local gig, you can rest assured that you are protected financially if something goes wrong.

Home studio gear

45. Laptop

In today’s music industry, it’s more important than ever for musicians to have their own laptops. With the right production software, a laptop can be used for practising, recording, writing, and even performing live.

In the past, musicians had to rely on expensive studio time or complex home-recording setups to commit their ideas to actual recorded products. But with a laptop and the right software, anyone can create professional-quality recordings these days.

And with the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever to share music with the world. For many musicians, a laptop is the most essential tool they need to write, record, and perform their music.

46. Audio Interface

If you want to record your music or connect your instrument to a computer, an audio interface is a must. It will give you the ability to record high-quality audio, and will also allow you to connect your instrument to a computer.

46. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software used for recording, editing, and producing audio files. It typically includes a variety of features such as the ability to record multiple tracks at once, add effects to your recordings, and mix and master your tracks. A DAW is a great choice for those who are looking to create professional-sounding recordings.

Whether you opt for industry standards DAWs such as ProTools and Logic or the perfect tool for live music such as AbletonLive, there is a wide range of options of great products out there that will suit your preferences and specific needs.

47. Plug-ins

A plugin, simply put, is a software that extends the capabilities of a digital audio workstation or DAW. They come in all shapes and sizes, from simple EQs and compressors to complex virtual instruments and synthesisers.

While some plugins are designed for mastering and mixing, others are geared towards production and composition. Either way, plugins can be an essential tool for creating professional-sounding recordings and take your original music to the next level.

47. Studio monitors

This piece of equipment is so crucial in your arsenal of musical tools. Studio monitors are very consistent at reproducing music with a flat frequency response and without causing distortion. Moreover, they are active speakers which means that their overall sound is more punchy, clear, and accurate.

All these features are valuable when you are trying to balance the overall sound of your mix, as you will hear the unfiltered and natural sound of what you have recorded or produced.

48. Studio headphones

Studio headphones are a must for any serious musician who is interested in writing, recording and producing original music. Headphones give you a natural and accurate reproduction of the recorded tracks, a wide frequency response, and great sound isolation.

These features will allow you to detect flaws in your mix, achieve balance among all the tracks in the recording, and be fully immersed in the process without distractions from the external world.

Headphones also allow you to record, mix, and practice without disturbing anyone around you, so your friends and family will thank you for that!

The combination of using studio monitors and studio headphones will be such a powerful combo that will ensure your music sounds professional, high-quality, and beautiful.

49. MIDI keyboard

For music writers, a MIDI keyboard is an essential production tool. By connecting a MIDI keyboard to your computer, you can access a wide range of virtual instruments. This allows you to experiment with different sounds and production techniques.

MIDI keyboards also make it possible to record music directly into a computer. This makes the recording process much easier and more efficient. In addition, MIDI keyboards can be used to control other devices, such as sound modules and effects processors. As a result, they offer a high degree of flexibility and versatility. For any musician who is serious about writing and production, a MIDI keyboard is an essential piece of equipment.

50. Desk

Your desk is your workspace where the magic happens, so it is an essential part of your life as a musician. It provides a dedicated space for practising, production and recording, and it also houses all of the gear and tools that are used to create music.

In addition, a well-organized and functional desk helps you to stay focused and motivated in achieving your goals. By having all of the necessary equipment within easy reach, you can avoid distractions, stay on task, and achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.

51. Chair

If you spend a lot of time working on your craft, it is important to invest in a quality chair. Having a comfortable and ergonomic chair will prevent you from developing back pains and injuries over time. Looking after your posture and comfort are good practices to keep in mind if you spend many hours developing your skills and working on your craft.

52. Mirror

Practising in front of a mirror can do wonders in terms of highlighting problems with your posture and technique. In addition, it can give you a clear image of what you look like when you play your instrument, so you can make adjustments to your stance, body language, and overall presence.

The reflected image is what the audience sees when you perform, so it is important to be aware of that as well. I find that looking at a mirror also helped with the bad habit of constantly looking at my hands when playing, thus missing the opportunity to engage with the audience through eye contact, smiling, and other physical gestures.

52. Treating your room for recording

If you are serious about recording music in your dedicated space for making music, then it is important to consider some treatment to your room to improve its acoustics. This is a massive subject and it requires quite a lot of research to understand the kind of material and soundproofing device that will suit your specific needs.

Without going into too much detail, I recommend you look into bass traps, acoustic panes, and diffusers. This website is a great place to get you started…

Apps, software, and websites

53. YouTube

If only YouTube existed when I began playing the guitar! YouTube can be an incredibly valuable learning tool for musicians of all levels. For beginners, YouTube can be a great resource for finding instructional videos on how to play specific songs or learn new techniques. Today’s video quality and production offer great and detailed camera angles which allow the student to be fully immersed in almost real-life learning.

More experienced musicians can use YouTube to find performance or tutorial videos for songs they’re working on, or to watch live recordings of concerts and masterclasses. In addition, YouTube can be a great place to find music theory lessons, as well as interviews with famous musicians and music industry professionals.

54. Transcribe!

Transcribing is one of the most effective ways to improve your ears and overall musicianship.

Transcribe! is a transcription software aimed at making the process of transcribing smoother and easier. It has many features, including the ability to slow down music without changing its pitch, to analyse chords and show you what notes are present, and the capability of adding markers and textual annotations.

Overall, Transcribe! is a very useful tool for musicians of all levels of experience.

55. Finale

Finale is one of the most versatile and powerful music notation software on the market. It allows you to create scores, sheet music and tablature with ease, great details, and professionalism. It has many features that can aid the job of composing and arranging simpler through dedicated and stylistic arranging functions.

Finale includes an extensive library of midi instruments, from orchestral to exotic ones, which ensure an excellent playback of the written music. It is a complex and expensive piece of equipment so it is recommended for the serious composer and/or arranger.

56. Musescore

Musescore is a free and open-source music notation software that is a great alternative to Finale. It has many of the same features as Finale, such as the ability to input notes using your computer keyboard or MIDI keyboard, and the capability of exporting your sheet music in a variety of formats. Musescore is a good choice for those who are looking for a free option for creating sheet music.

57. Sibelius

Sibelius is another popular music notation software that offers many features to make the process of creating sheet music easier. It has the ability to input notes using your computer keyboard or MIDI keyboard, and also allows you to create sheet music by scanning in existing scores.

Sibelius is a good choice for those who are looking for professional-grade music notation software with many powerful features.

58. Guitar Pro

If you are a guitarist, Guitar Pro is a music notation software that is specifically designed for guitarists (yes, after all we are a special breed). It includes features such as the ability to input notes using tablature, and the capability of exporting your sheet music in a variety of formats.

GuitarPro is a great practice tool, as it allows you to create loops of specific sections of a song and increase the speed gradually and after a certain number of set repetitions.

Moreover, you can isolate or mute tracks within the arrangement, which makes it perfect if you’d like to play along to songs or solos that you are learning.

Guitar Pro is a great choice for those who are looking for a software that caters specifically to their instrument.

59. iRealBook

iRealBook is a software that allows you to create and manage your own fake book of chords and melodies. It includes a variety of features such as the ability to transpose keys, change tempo, and mute tracks. Whether you’re into rock, pop, or jazz, iRealBook is a great choice for those who are looking for a software that allows them to create their own charts.


This website is a great resource for anyone interested in understanding music theory. It is well organized into different sections where you can study and practice various topics such as scales, harmony, chord formation, key signatures, music analysis, chord progressions, and many more.

61. Music Theory for the 21st-Century Classroom

This incredibly vast music resource compiled by Robert Hutchinson is the equivalent of several volumes of music theory all gathered in one place. The 35 chapters range from basic concepts such as intervals and triads to advanced areas such as jazz theory, diminished and chromatic harmonies, and impressionism and extended tonality.

62. Dorico

Dorico is a powerful music notation software that allows you to compose your own music for free. It is easy to learn and use, and is perfect for students and professionals alike. With Dorico for iPad, you can write music on the move, and then sync your projects with Dorico for macOS and Windows. Play back your compositions instantly with the included sounds, or use any compatible Audio Unit plug-in (with optional in-app purchase). Once you’re finished, share your music as PDF, audio or MusicXML, or print directly to your AirPrint-enabled printer.

63. Jamzone

Jamzone is the perfect way to elevate your musical skills. With thousands of studio-quality backing tracks, you can browse and jam along with any style of music. The built-in sections allow you to change the volume of each instrument, so you can focus on the parts you’re trying to learn. And with zero audio loss technology, you can be sure that you’re hearing the music exactly as it was recorded. Whether you’re a beginner who wants to have fun jamming with friends or a seasoned pro who wants to showcase your skills online, Jamzone is the perfect app for you. So download it today and start jamming!


ForScore is an iOS and iPadOS app that is beautifully designed, powerful, and intelligent. It provides a clean minimalist interface for displaying sheet music, keeping it organized, and staying out of the way. ForScore also has a variety of useful features for musicians of all levels, including creating setlists, annotating files, rearranging pages, adding bookmarks, playing along with an audio track, and more. Its powerful tools make it an essential tool for performing musicians. If you’re looking for an app to help you manage your sheet music and performer’s life, ForScore is the answer.

65. Streaming platform

Music streaming platforms have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they offer a convenient and affordable way to listen to music. For performers, streaming platforms provide an easy way to reach a wide audience, and many artists have found success by self-releasing their music on these platforms.

In addition, streaming platforms often offer features that allow listeners to discover new music, such as personalized recommendations and playlists. For many people, streaming platforms have completely changed the way they listen to music, and it is now easier than ever to find and enjoy new artists.

As a gigging musician, I found apps such as Spotify or Tidal very helpful in compiling setlists for a specific show. I use the playlists to practice and memorize the songs I have to perform, making the process of preparing for a gig a lot faster and easier.

66. Voice Recording App

All smartphones or tablets today have good-quality voice recording apps among their many features. Whenever the inspiration strikes, make sure to commit to recording your idea straight away or you most likely won’t remember it by the time you have access to your instrument.

67. EarMaster

If you want to improve your musical skills, ear training software is a must. With EarMaster, you will have access to over 2,500 ear training and theory exercises which will contribute to strengthening your ability to hear intervals, chords, rhythm, and much more. With its interactive design, EarMaster offers an enjoyable and in-depth learning experience that will take your musicianship to the next level.

Lifestyle choices/Health

A while ago, I suffered from an injury in my right arm that prevented me from playing music for over 6 months. Besides the obvious and problematic issues with losing income from gigging and teaching, it was also challenging to be denied the joy of playing the guitar daily and making music with some of my favourite people.

When I started seeing a great physio in my area, one of the first things he told me was: “Musicians are like athletes”. I nodded and I knew I chose the right professional to look after my injury. His statement also made me understand that if I wanted to be great at playing music, then my body has to be in great shape.

While going through the recovery from my injury, I realised that I had to take my physical health a lot more serious and include more healthy practices in my life. Here are some of the things I try to be aware of while I continue to strive to become the best musician I can be.

68. Sleep

Musicians often have a hectic lifestyle, filled with long rehearsals, performances, and studio sessions. It can be easy to sacrifice sleep in order to get everything done. However, sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and playing music at your best.

A good night’s sleep helps to improve focus and concentration, reduces stress levels, and boosts energy levels. It also helps to prevent injuries by giving the body time to recover from the physical demands of playing music. In order to perform at your best, it is important to make sleep a priority.

When possible, avoid late nights and early mornings, and stick to a regular sleep schedule. By getting enough rest, you can ensure that you always give your best performance.

69. Stretching

Stretching is an important part of any musician’s routine. Not only does it help to keep you healthy and fit, but it also helps to avoid injuries. When you play music, your body is constantly in motion, and stretching helps to keep your muscles and joints loose and flexible. It’s also a great way to warm up before playing, and to cool down afterwards.

There are many different stretching exercises that you can do, and it’s important to find ones that work for you. But no matter what exercises you do, stretching is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding injuries when playing music.

70. Warming up

Every musician knows the importance of warming up before a performance or practice session. Warming up helps to prepare both your body and mind for the upcoming activity. It increases your heart rate and blood flow, loosens your muscles and joints, and gets you in the right frame of mind to focus on playing music.

Additionally, warming up can help to prevent injuries by slowly raising your body temperature and promoting blood flow to your muscles. As a result, taking a few minutes to warm up before playing music can help you to perform at your best and stay healthy and injury-free.

71. Posture

Proper posture is essential for all musicians, whether they are practising at home, performing on stage, or teaching a class. There are many reasons why posture is so important.

First of all, good posture helps to prevent strain and injury. Musicians who practise and perform with poor posture are more likely to develop problems such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and back pain.

In addition, good posture helps musicians to breathe more efficiently and to use their lung capacity to its fullest potential. This is especially important for singers and wind instrumentalists.

Finally, proper posture enhances the quality of sound that a musician produces. When a musician sits or stands up straight, their muscles can vibrate freely, resulting in a richer, fuller sound. Not only will this help you to project your voice or instrument, but it will also create a more professional appearance.

By taking care of your posture, you can help to ensure a lifetime of healthy musical practices and stay free of injuries.

72. Diet

A musician’s diet is an important part of their lifestyle. What they eat and drink can impact their energy levels, mood, and overall health. This, in turn, can affect their ability to focus, practice, and perform. Music can be a draining activity, so you must give your body and mind plenty of good nutrients.

For example, musicians should aim to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They should also limit their intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and caffeine. By following these simple tips, you can keep your body healthy and your mind sharp, ensuring that you are always ready to give your best performance.

73. Exercise

Exercise is often thought of as a way to improve physical fitness, but it can also have a significant impact on mental and emotional health. For musicians, exercise can be an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing burnout.

Working out can help to improve focus and concentration, and it can also boost energy levels and reduce stress. Physical activity can help to increase blood flow to the brain, which can improve dexterity and coordination. In addition, exercise can help to increase stamina and reduce onstage anxiety.

Ultimately, exercise is an important tool for musicians of all levels of experience. By incorporating exercise into their daily lives, performers can reap a variety of benefits that will help them both in the studio and on the stage.

74. Technique

Technique allows musicians to play with effortless ease and command. When technique is developed, you can focus on the music rather than on the physical act of playing. This results in a more expressive and emotionally powerful performance.

Furthermore, technique can help to prevent injuries, as it places less stress on the muscles and joints. To develop technique, musicians must be willing to put in the hard work and practice regularly. However, the rewards of a well-developed technique are more than worth the effort.

75. Pacing yourself

Musicians, like all artists, need to be careful of pacing themselves or they risk burning out. When you love what you do, it’s easy to get caught up in the creative process and overdo it. But just like any other job, if you don’t pace yourself you’ll quickly get exhausted both mentally and physically.

Burnout can lead to all sorts of problems, from writer’s block to depression. So it’s important to take breaks, enjoy your free time, and not put too much pressure on yourself. Learn to listen to your body and mind so you can keep doing what you love for years to come.

76. Patience

Music is an art form that takes patience to master. Like any skill, it takes time and practice to perfect. Rushing the process will only result in frustration and disappointment. Musicians need to be patient and understand that success takes time. Only by putting in the hours of hard work will they be able to achieve their goals.

Impatience will only lead to shortcuts and poor decision-making. By being patient, you can avoid these pitfalls and focus on honing your craft one step at a time. Try to enjoy the journey as much as you can and success will happen naturally as long as you keep working at your craft.

77. Attitude

It is widely accepted that having a positive attitude is important for success in any field, but it is especially important if you chose music as your path. A musician’s career can be full of ups and downs, and it is essential to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of disappointment.

A positive attitude will help you persevere when you encounter setbacks and ultimately achieve your goals. Additionally, being positive will make you more pleasant to work with and will make you more likely to be successful in securing gigs and other opportunities. Positivity is essential to maintaining a successful career as a musician and tackling a new challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn.

78. Music Friends

Music is a special form of expression that allows us to connect with others on a deep level. When we share our music with friends, we are sharing a part of ourselves that we might not otherwise be able to express in a place that is free of judgement. Our music friends understand and appreciate our passion for music, and they can provide support and feedback that helps us grow as musicians.

Playing music with people you love and value is one of the most satisfying experiences in the life of a musician. It is not only a special bonding relationship but also an opportunity to grow together while doing what we cherish the most.

In addition, music friends can be a great source of inspiration. Seeing our friends succeed in their musical endeavours can push us to reach new levels in our own music-making. Ultimately, music friends help us to create a richer, more fulfilling experience of music in our lives.

79. Metronome

One of the most important tools for any musician is a metronome. This simple device helps to ensure that you are playing within a rhythmic framework and allows you to practice with greater accuracy and precision.

By using a metronome, you can systematically break down complex passages and work on them slowly and methodically until they become effortless. In addition, a metronome can help you to develop a greater command of rhythm, timing, and groove.

Nowdays, metronomes can be quite sophisticated tools that allow you to practice in a variety of time signatures, rhythmic styles, and polyrhythms. Make sure to take advantage of all the great features of modern technologies and take your rhythm and groove to the next level.


No matter what your level of experience as a musician is, it is important to have these 105 things in order to have a successful and fulfilling creative path.

From developing healthy habits to having the right tools for live performances and production, and expanding your knowledge through books, the items included in this list are essential ingredients for any musician looking to reach their full potential.

Think about building your arsenal of musical tools one step at a time and be wise with the investments you make along the way. With a positive attitude and perseverance, you will be able to succeed in achieving your musical goals.

Andrew Scrivens

Andrew Scrivens

I am a live musician and guitar teacher from Brisbane, Australia, with extensive experience playing live, in the studio and for TV shows. I play in many venues, studios, music shops and with my students and as such am exposed to a lot of different gear. I form my opinions based on my experiences playing instruments in these locations.

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