Many people wish they were more musical. However either they don’t believe that they can be, or they don’t know where to start. The truth is that everyone has musical potential, and with the right steps it can be easy and fun to develop your musical skills and start to feel truly musical.
In this article you’ll discover 10 simple ways you can start using today to become more musical yourself.
Before we dive into those suggestions though, there are two core steps you should take first:
First: Start Hearing Like a Musician
The main thing which sets some who is “musical” apart from someone who is “unmusical” is actually their ears, i.e. how they hear and interpret music.
Then: Get Control Of Your Voice
Whether or not you’re interested in becoming a singer, it’s vital to have basic control of your singing voice. Being able to accurately and reliably pitch notes and express your musical ideas with your voice has several important benefits for your musical development:
- It improves your core sense of pitch and relative pitch
- It develops your musical imagination
- It gives you confidence that you can create musical sounds yourself
So you see, to become more musical you must learn to sing in tune.
10 Ways To Become More Musical
Once you can hear like a musician and use your singing voice you are well on your way to uncovering your true musical potential. However there’s one more powerful step you must take: start making music.
That may seem like an intimidating idea to you right now. But it needn’t be!
I’m not suggesting that you go out tomorrow with an instrument you’ve never played before and start performing in public…
In fact, if you take the first two steps above (training your ears and your voice) you will very quickly get past the biggest hurdle: the fear of sounding bad.
If you can trust your voice and musical imagination to know what to sing or play, and you can trust your ears to tell you if it sounds right and correct if necessary, then even if you make only the simplest music you can be confident that you are sounding musical to anyone listening.
From there it’s just a matter of improving your skills and becoming more sophisticated in the music you make.
So how can you get started making music? Here are ten easy ways:
1. Start with the beat.
Clapping along with music is a simple skill which can set you apart as having a feel for music, and it doesn’t take much ear training to learn to do this reliably.
2. Hum along with music you like.
This is a simple, quiet way you can practice your core pitch skills. It’s good for the ears and for the voice – and it’s fun! The key is to listen. Don’t hum along mindlessly as you may be out of tune. Pay attention and you’ll quickly develop a reliable ability to hum along in tune.
3. Start improvising.
This is a skill that intimidates many musicians, and it’s true that advanced improvisation does indeed require tremendous skill. But simple improvisation doesn’t! All that’s needed is a decent ear and the willingness to risk making small mistakes. Start by just varying your clapping or humming to complement the music you hear rather than trying to imitate it exactly.
4. Buy an instrument.
I’d recommend a keyboard, a ukulele or a harmonica as good beginner instruments where you can quickly learn to make music which sounds good. A keyboard has all the notes laid out clearly and visually. The ukulele is faster to learn than guitar but just as much fun. And the harmonica restricts you to just the notes of the scale, which is actually very musically liberating for the beginner. Taking lessons is optional – but encouraged!
5. Use technology.
If you enjoy using your computer, smartphone or tablet, then explore the music-making software available. You would be surprised how easy some of these tools make it to create great-sounding music of your own, and it’s the perfect risk-free way to experiment and develop your skills while creating something you’ll later be proud to share with others.
6. Take a dance class.
This may seem like a strange suggestion since you’re not actually making music! But learning to move your body in sync with a musical beat has a profound positive impact on your sense of rhythm and will help solidify that side of your musicality. This goes great with #1 and #2.
7. Play a game.
There are lots of videogames based on music these days, and while the jury’s still out on whether playing Guitar Hero actually teaches you to play guitar, there is no doubt that spending time mastering these games is a great and fun way to hone your internal musical skills and become more musical.
8. Join a group.
For example, join your local a community choir or get together with musical friends to jam. This is a powerful way to amplify everything else you’re doing as it will inspire and guide your musical development and give you the chance to put your new musicality to use. You might think you need to already be good at music-making to join a group, but the truth is that almost any group will welcome someone who has mastered the basic ear and voice skills we discussed in steps one and two, even if your singing or instrument skills are only beginner-level so far.
9. Start recording yourself.
Whichever of the above steps you decide to take, recording yourself practising (whether by video or just audio) is helpful in several ways. It gives you the sense of performance without actually having to perform in front of people, making you try harder and achieve more. It lets you review the recording afterwards and hear if you were achieving what it felt like you were. And if you keep the recordings you can check back occasionally and see vividly the progress you’ve made since and just how far you’ve come in becoming more musical.
10. Explore and have fun!
This is the guiding principle to keep in mind for all of the above, and everything you do in music really. The most important thing to remember is that music-making should be fun. And the second most important is to keep stretching yourself, exploring new kinds of music and new ways of making music. These two together will ensure that you improve continually, enjoy the process throughout and become a capable, confident, and versatile musician.
So there you have it: ten simple ways you can continue your journey to become more musical.
I hope that you will pick just one of them to start with today – and that a year from now you have tried all ten!
Have any questions or need help in your musical journey? Come ask in our forums.