At Easy Ear Training and Musical U we teach that there are three essential areas for musicians to study—instrument, music theory, and listening skills—to be a complete musician. There’s one more element necessary for being a musician, though, and that’s a passion for making music.

Sometimes, that love of music gets educated away. Although well-meaning, music educators occasionally lack the skills or resources to teach music in such a way that both external and inner skills of music are nurtured. Fortunately, there are alternate ways of learning music that take advantage of both old school ways of teaching and real-world techniques, helping to keep the love of music alive.

Hooktheory Hooks

review-hooktheory-music-theory-book-iiLearning music should be fun—even those seemingly drab-but-necessary subjects like music theory ought to spark an interest in learning. That’s why we love companies like Hooktheory which brings music theory to life by combining the real world of music with valuable ear training skills.

We previously covered the Hooktheory website and Hooktheory Book I, giving both glowing reviews. The most recent release from the Hooktheory team, Hooktheory Book II, picks up where Book I left off. Will we like it as much as Book I? Read our review and find out!

We’re not the only music education company that loves Hooktheory! Midnight Music, a prominent online community dedicated to music technology, recently named Hooktheory website of the week.

Learn more about the team behind Hooktheory: take a look at this article from Berkeley Engineering. The Hooktheory team—Chris Anderson, Ryan Miyakawa and Dave Carlton—met at the College of Engineering in 2005.

We first reviewed the Hooktheory site back in 2013. Have a look at our first Hooktheory demo, which we posted on YouTube.

Favorite Musicians’ Favorite Music

favourite-song-2-1Speaking of the enjoyment of music, what kind of music do famous musicians such as Taylor Swift enjoy listening to? It’s a common misconception that professional singer-songwriters only listen to the same type of music they play.

Musical U reveals the favorite song of three of today’s most popular musicians and why they chose them. Does Britney Spears listen to pop? Musical U fans’ inquiring minds want to know! What is your all-time favorite song and why?

It’s true that musicians don’t necessarily listen to the same genre of music they create, especially in the somewhat genre-less age we live in. Gigwise takes a look at eleven artists whose taste in music might surprise you!

Did Frank Zappa listen to Igor Stravinsky? Emily Temple at Flavorwire divulges who are your favorite musicians’ favorite musicians.

With Christmas right around the corner, what are some of your favorite musicians listening to this holiday season? Parade asked some legendary stars to reveal their choices.

Real World Jazz Education

learning-jazz-improvisation-with-bob-habersat-and-paul-levyMusic education mavericks Bob Habersat and Paul Levy, of Oak Lawn Community High School near Chicago, IL, are revamping music education by making music “real”. Bob and Paul combine hands-on learning with a new website they’ve built called The Shed, shaping a unique virtual and visceral classroom experience.

Both are also accomplished professional jazz improvisers and in the third part of our interview with the two, we ask them how they’re making jazz improvisation “real” for their lucky students.

Although jazz education is alive in schools, it’s not necessarily well. Camden Hughes at Learn Jazz Standards exposes the existential problem with jazz band and offers ideas to solve it.

Teaching jazz band in the schools can very well be a challenge. Trombonist and music educator Dave Wilken offers extensive advice for new jazz band directors.

A Foundation for Good Singing

vocal-technique-3-italian-secretsSo many young voice students set out to learn the coveted vocal technique known as “bel canto”. They spend years and fortunes only to come out of school not knowing how to truly sing and are unprepared to compete on the world stage.

In the first of a three-part series, Easy Ear Training Communications Manager Marisa Balistreri, a former professional opera singer, shares with Musical U the three elements that form the foundation for healthy singing that she learned in Italy.

Marisa learned this technique, which she calls the “Italian Traditional Method of Singing”, from a tenor in Florence who was a student of Italian tenor Franco Corelli. Corelli was a part of the “old school” of Italian singing, which focuses strongly on breath support and allowing the voice to resonate naturally.

The great Italian tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi is the person most credited for having perpetuated the technique now widely recognized as “old school” singing in Italy. For the best short voice lesson you will ever have, watch this interview with Lauri-Volpi (with sub-titles):

Franco Corelli did not create the Italian school of singing, he learned it from Giacomo Lauri-Volpi! Here, he discusses Lauri-Volpi’s technique and voice (with sub-titles).

Would you like to hear the difference between old school and modern singing? When you listen to these examples from YouTube user AfroPoli back to back, the difference is quite clear!

What is Musicality Today?

5-key-skills-to-be-musicalMost music institutions are adept at teaching the external skills of music, such as how to play an instrument and read music. Yet, so often the “old school” internal ones, such as aural skills, are neglected, as are skills born from modern technology. In fact, with today’s fast-changing technical world, is it even necessary to play an instrument anymore to be a musician?

We recently interviewed Dr. Chad West , an Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education at Ithaca College and a frequent presenter at conferences. We were inspired by his paper about the five core elements of musicality and here summarize what we gathered from him, including what makes a musician musical in today’s world.

Which are the skills that young music students ought to be taught? Maia Hamann for Classical MPR lists what are the the most important general music skills for beginning instrumentalists.

With all these lists of skills necessary for being musical could it be that there is really one true secret to being a great musician? Lick N’ Riff tells you what it is.

“Make new friends and keep the old… “

Creatively combining technology with academic subjects, both in the classroom and online, can help keep music education fun and interesting. Yet, there’s something to be learned from “old school” ways of educating music students that is worth revisiting. Hopefully, the passion you have for music will never be institutionalized away.

The choice is yours. You can always love what you do, including the study of music. Nothing quite says “love of music” like grabbing your instrument and taking to the streets to spread some cheer. Check out these bass players busking for the sheer joy of making music!

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