It’s time to break out of the box.

Musicians just like yourself have been doing it for years. Whether you’re trying new scales, new genres, new professional opportunities, or a creative new way of teaching, this week’s Musical U posts will tickle your musical sense of adventure.

Alien Invasion

Sometimes we choose the adventure, and sometimes adventure is foisted upon us. Like when you’re learning something by ear and the composer moves the tonic! Last week we learned how to track down those nasty key changes. Now it’s time to awaken your inner Will Smith and reveal Who Moved the Tonic? Part 2: Alien Notes and Modes.

One contingency to be aware of is that every major scale has a minor scale with the same exact notes. This is called the relative minor scale. In this short guitar lesson from, you can see how to apply what you have learned onto the fretboard and start jamming in new keys.

Ready to introduce some of these “alien” notes into your music?

There are several different ways that musicians can learn the slinky melodic minor scale, but Unlock the Guitar has a unique lesson that helps to train your ears at the same time.

The minor is not the only exotic scale that can be generated from the (yawn) good old major. Expand your ears with the various modes, including the dorian mode that Miles Davis used in “So What”.

Expand your chops with some crazy easy modal improvisation in dorian.

An Old Tradition Ventures into the Future

The adventure out can also be the adventure in. When classical clarinet wunderkind Paul Green returned to music after a successful law career, he searched for his musical roots in jazz and the East European Jewish genre known as Klezmer. His klezmer journey led first to an in-depth exploration the uniquely funky klezmer sound, and then to fusing Klezmer and jazz into a new art music. Paul muses on the present and future of Klezmer: Tradition in Transformation.

The story of how traditional klezmer music made its way to the United States is the journey of a genre. In New York City and Washington DC, David Amram was part of this journey, even working (as 13-year-old Paul Green did) with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Learning about music from all around the world breaks you out of your box and broadens your musical horizons! All Around This World has more information about klezmer music and traditional music from many different cultures. This website is perfect for teaching young people about the world of music.

Klezmer is characterized by a huge emotional range. We’ve heard music that wails, dances, and melts your face, but did you know that music can even complain? Learn the fundamental klezmer ornament, the “krekht” – or “complaint” – in this first lesson on klezmer style from Robin Seletsky:

Face the Fear

Even old pros struggle with musical confidence. Learn a dozen new polkas in two weeks for a new gig? No problem for this 50-something music vet – until your practice time evaporates in a series of vehicle breakdowns. And then how do you compete with an enchanted button box when the polka party turns surreal?

Our own author and content editor Andrew Bishko shared this strange tale on the Musical U Get Confident discussion board. In writing about Polka Party Confidence and enjoying the supportive feedback from other Musical U members, Andrew learned that he’s learned more about confidence than he thought.

Andrew’s performance improved when he was able to get out of the sheet music and really connect with the audience and other musicians on stage. Playing became fun again! Become inspired to connect with your audience with this blogpost from Majoring in Music.

Struggling with your confidence and even having stage fright is a perfectly normal experience that many musicians have to overcome. The Musician’s Way provides some more great tips on how to control, manage, and channel this nervous energy into your performance.

Many vocalists face their own unique challenges when preparing for a performance. Some are similar to instrumentalists, while others are very different. This article from International Acoustic Music Awards provides 13 tips on how to prepare for a live vocal performance.

Wake Up to Creativity

The history of piano teaching is as glorious as the music itself. Even Mozart and Beethoven paid their bills by giving piano lessons. With this more than 300-year-old tradition, is it any wonder that piano teaching has become a bit… stodgy?

Tim Topham, an accomplished classical player in his own right, is out to change all that. Tim teaches piano – and piano teachers – differently with a variety of creative tools. And now, with his Inner Circle, he has assembled hundreds of creative piano teachers who are nurturing and supporting each other as well as their students through the birth of this next evolution in piano pedagogy.

To celebrate the first year of the Inner Circle, Tim is giving away a free membership. Learn more about how piano teachers are incorporating improvisation, playing by ear, the blues, different styles of popular music, and more in their piano teaching as Creative Piano Teachers Join Together in the Inner Circle.

Becoming a music teacher can be a very rewarding career, but many do not know where to begin setting up their own studio. Get started on your adventure in music education – and even support your gear habit – as you build your own teaching business.

There is so much evidence that learning music supports children’s education in many other subject and helps them gain confidence. The Fun Music Company provides us with an informative article of things to consider when teaching young people the joy of music.

Finding the right music teacher for yourself or your children can be very difficult. In fact, one of the things that we are asked about the most is where people should begin finding a teacher. 7 Notes breaks this process down into three important rules: “Do your research, do a trial lesson, and ask questions”. Click here to read more of their suggestions.

The Adventure Begins!

When you first heard music, it took you to new places you had never been before. And while you may have songs that you’ll listen to over and over again, you’ve learned to extract new gold from the old mine.

Isn’t it time you took your music somewhere new? A funky new genre, a scary new gig, an exotic new mode, a creative new way of teaching… and maybe even some alien notes!

Note: This post originally contained a video by Rowan J Parker, which has been removed by request.

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