With the short yet busy month of February behind us, it’s time to look ahead to March’s improv month!

This means fresh articles, podcasts, tutorials, modules, and even a masterclass to get you improvising!

Meanwhile, we’ve taken the last bit of February to release some content that reminds us to celebrate music, and especially our own musical journeys: an incredibly positive and insightful interview with songwriter Vincent James, and a spotlight on a Musical U member whose impressive progress is an inspiration to behold.

But first, a moment of celebration…

Best Piano Resource!

Online music tutor platform Tutorful has placed us on their list of Best Piano Resources! We are delighted, and would like to thank them for their kind words:

Tutorful best piano resourceWhy we love Musical U:

What inspires people to take up piano? It’s that exciting dream of being able to sit down at the keyboard and just play. To play by ear, improvise, arrange on the fly, or simply play learned repertoire with a level of expression that moves the listener.

Musical U specialises in making it fun and easy to quickly train your brain and ear for the skills which empower you as a musician: to play freely and with confidence all the music you hear, remember or imagine. It doesn’t take “talent” or a gift to become an incredible pianist – but you do need musicality training and that’s what the expert team at Musical U are proud and delighted to provide.”

Check out their full list of resources for the beginner pianist!

Improv Month

Musical U is incredibly proud and excited to announce our first-ever themed month.

March will be dedicated to the topic of improvisation, and how you can use this tool to be free and creative in your musicmaking.

March improv month Musical UFrom interviews with improvisation pros to a fresh batch of articles and tutorials teaching you to play freely and spontaneously, you won’t want to miss a moment of March. We’re also going to be finishing off the month with a live, online training session on improvisation – open to all!

Can’t wait for the month ahead? Neither can we! Read more about what’s in store over at What’s New in Musical U: February 2018.

Keeping Music Alive

With the day-in, day-out routine of practice, music lessons, learning theory, and training your ear, we sometimes forget how amazing it is that we’re making music in the first place!

Fear not: our interview with musician, songwriter, and author Vincent James is the perfect reminder. Brimming with enthusiasm for music and the will to share it with as many people as possible, Vincent is the man behind nationwide events Teach Music Week and Kids Music Day, and the author of 88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life, a collection of stories about the transformative power of music.

Vincent James interviewIn Unleashing Inspiration, with Vincent James, he shares inspiring advice for songwriting, musical collaboration, and making music community-based – the way it should be.

Vincent has an amazing story that many of us can relate to. One of his most memorable stories was about when he and his friends started a fictitious rock band while school was closed for weather. This opened up his ears to new music and experiences that would stay with him for years to come. Steve’s Music Room agrees that starting a rock band can be greatly beneficial, and has compiled five reasons you should start a rock band at your school!

A common thread throughout the interview was the impact that being a musician has made on Vincent’s life. We can all agree that learning music, and the experience of sharing our musicality with others, is one reason why we are so passionate about it! Read about how learning the Ukulele has changed one musician’s life on Ukulele Music Info.

In between all of Vincent’s other projects, he even finds the time to teach guitar lessons to one student – who happens to be 83 years old! This is a great reminder that it is never too late to begin making music. Nancy on the Home Front further explores this subject on her blog.

The centerpiece of Vincent’s work is to keep music in our schools and inspire the next generation to pick up the arts as well. A world without music is truly difficult to imagine, and it would be terrible to rob future would-be musicians of the art. The Inspired Classroom discusses the other benefits that music education provides to students.

Musical Revelations

Musical U members never cease to amaze us with their dedication, progress, and enthusiasm.

This month, we’re spotlighting Ashley Sherman, a member who had a lightbulb moment when she connected the music theory she’d known for years with her real-life goal of being able to play by ear.

Ashley Sherman spotlightNow, with the help of Musical U, she’s developing this skill further, and has moved onto composing her own music, complete with arrangements!

To read more about her fascinating journey and how she uses Musical U’s resources to help her build her musicality, check out Musical U Member Spotlight: Ashley Sherman.

Ashley’s journey to playing music by ear was inspiring and should give hope to anyone who feels like they will never get it. The myth that playing by ear is a natural talent and cannot be learned is so damaging to many musicians – anyone can develop well-trained ears is if they set their mind to it, as discussed by Treblemakers.

All musicians should find a way to incorporate goal setting into their practice. It really helps to focus your efforts and give yourself little victories to celebrate along the way! The Happy Musician discusses six steps to meeting your musical goals that will have you there in no time.

Using the Musical U Roadmaps, Ashley was able to quickly begin learning to recognize chord progressions and intervals as she practiced her music. Learning intervals can be a tedious exercise, but there are many benefits that can come from your study. Kate from Musical Intervals Tutor talks about how learning intervals will help you further develop your musicality.

Part of being a music student is to have a “big picture”, or your mission statement for wanting to learn music. It’s something that we encourage for all Musical U members! For example, Ashley wanted to better understand melodies and all the little details that go into making them memorable. Greg Howlett offers his insights and opinion on what makes a melody good (or bad).

Intro to Improv

To kick off improvisation month and our improv-themed podcast episodes, we’re releasing an episode giving you an overview of improv: why you should learn to improvise, how it will enhance your musicality, and the steps you can take today to start learning.

This skill is not about “guessing” or trying random note combinations and seeing what sticks – our approach to helping you learn to improvise is all about developing your musical ear to the point where anything you imagine in your head is effortlessly translated to your instrument!

Intro to improvisationLearn how to get started by tuning into the Musicality Podcast episode About Improvisation!

Improvising is a great skill to have as a musician. You will unlock a door to hours of musical enjoyment and collaboration with other musicians just by getting started – and Trumpetland has some tips to show you how! Non-trumpeters, don’t sleep on this one, as there are some great suggestions for every musician!

Christopher talked about how many musicians approach improvising by learning licks and repeating them. While this isn’t the only way you should be learning improv, there are many iconic licks that can inspire you and expand your vocabulary. Here are 10 dominant licks from Jazz Guitar Licks to get you started.

Developing and using your audiation and listening skills will help you on your way to becoming an improvisation master. Here at Musical U, we often talk about how singing your music can take your listening skills to the next level. And we’re not the only ones – Yankee Collection discusses how singing music can help you play it!

Any musician can learn to improvise. Graham Mann from the Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra teaches improvisation to young learners, as you will see in the this TEDx Talk. No matter your age, you will be both inspired by, and learn from, this fantastic lesson.

Dive Into Improv!

With March underway, look forward to a heaping spoonful of improvisation content that will have you playing freely and expressively in no time.

Tune into podcast episodes to learn improv tricks from the pros, use our modules and articles to get yourself playing, and join us at the end of the month for our online improvisational masterclass!

Happy improvising!

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