What if all the seemingly-natural skills of music like playing by ear, improvising, singing in tune, collaborating with others – could be yours.
Not by learning them but by simply connecting with a natural musician that’s already inside you.
In this episode we explain how you can know whether you have an “inner natural” and how to tap into it to unlock these skills for yourself. Stay tuned!
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Hi, my name’s Christopher, I’m the founder and Director of Musical U, and this is Musicality Now.
We often talk on this show about your “inner natural”. Having “the instinct” for music.
And all the practical skills that go along with that, like playing notes, chords and rhythms by ear, improvising, jamming and more.
Normally we discuss how to learn those practical skills. But that glosses over something important.
You might think that if you need to learn those skills, it’s because you’re not a “natural musician” and you don’t have the “musical instinct” inside.
But what I want to share on this episode is that this isn’t quite right…
In fact, we all have an inner natural. We all have the musical instinct.
And here’s how you can know.
Humans have been making music for tens of thousands of years. Long before sheet music and notation, long before the instruments we study technique for today. Cavemen were banging drums and dancing around fires, even playing primitive flutes going back to prehistoric times.
Do you think those cavemen worried about whether they had the musical instinct? Or held back from picking up the drum sticks because they didn’t think they had talent?
This may seem like a silly example to look at, but the core point is valid today: those cavemen got involved because they enjoyed and appreciated music. The only difference between them and us is that we have all these culturally-inherited expectations about who is “allowed” to make music and who should be considered a “real” musician.
We can see that clearly by looking at how children today interact with music. Before they start getting indoctrinated about so-called “talent” any child will instinctively dance to music or have fun making noise when handed an instrument.
Again: the only difference between that free and confident attitude to music-making and the typical adult mindset is that we gradually accumulate a ton of misconceptions and false barriers around what it means to be a musician or to be a “natural”.
Take improvisation as a case in point.
Most adult musicians, if you ask them if they can improvise they’ll say “no”. Because in their head they’re taking “improvise” to mean “perform an impressive melody or arrangement on their instrument with no prior preparation, conforming to particular expectations about a music genre like rock or jazz”.
That is a ton of baggage!
What about the question “Could you play a few notes on your instrument without any sheet music?”
Or “Can you stick to a single note and come up with a cool rhythm by yourself?”
Those are both totally valid forms of improvising – and well within the capabilities of any instrumentalist who’s got a grip on the basics of instrument technique.
So what if becoming a “natural” in music isn’t about creating an “inner natural” – but about connecting with the inner natural that’s already there?
Here’s the thing: you already instinctively understand music.
If you didn’t, you wouldn’t enjoy music.
Let me ask you:
Can you tell when music gets more exciting or less exciting?
When it’s fast or slow?
Can you hear the difference between a human voice and a guitar?
Clearly there’s part of your brain that gets all this!
The problem is that it’s not connected up to the parts of your brain that move your fingers on an instrument or control your singing voice.
Because we can’t do things in music we assume we don’t have what it takes.
But we do. Our fundamental musicality is there and it’s at work every time you have an experience of loving hearing music.
So that’s encouraging – but it’s not enough, right?
It’s not enough to let us play by ear, improvise, perform with expression, collaborate easily with other musicians.
To do all those things we need to put connections and frameworks and mental models in place to transform the instinctive understanding of music into an intellectual understanding.
That enables us to consciously draw on that intuitive understanding to choose what notes to play when – and actually express our own musical ideas out in the world.
There is no limit to how advanced you can get with these mental frameworks and connections, and it’s a virtuous cycle: the more you learn, the more you can do, the more you do do, the more you love music, the more you understand music instinctively, and the more connections you can put in place.
This cycle by the way is why we do see some apparently “talented” musicians in the world. That cycle has just happened particularly quickly, or it’s all happened very early in their life. For the majority of us we’ve gained that inner instinct for music but need to take conscious action to put in place the intellectual understanding and mental models to put it all to use.
Putting these mental frameworks in place is what we’re talking about when we discuss ear training or musicality training here at Musical U.
It comes in many forms, from simple repetitive drills and exercises to teach fine-grained skills through to big-picture conceptual understanding, with a lot of learning-by-doing along the way.
It looks different for each and every musician, but it’s always about empowering them to connect with the deep instinctive understanding of music that’s already there.
So never doubt that you have what it takes, or worry that you don’t have an instinct for music.
If you enjoy music, if you love music, if you can appreciate your favourite tracks: you have what it takes.
All that remains is to equip yourself with the tools to translate that inner instinct out into the world in exciting and creative ways. So what are you waiting for?
I don’t often directly promote our products here on the show but I will in this case: We are about to open up our Foundations of a Musical Mind course again – so if you’re looking for an easy and proven way to put in place the mental models that will unlock that “inner natural” for you, head to musicalmindcourse.com.