We started Musical U two years ago for a specific purpose: to help musicians fill in the “missing piece” of most music education, learning the “inner skills” that let you play by ear, improvise, sing in tune, and feel free, creative and confident in music.
There are a lot of websites out there that will teach you to play your instrument. If you want to learn guitar, piano, bass or singing, you can find tutorials on YouTube, courses on Udemy or sign up with a teacher on TakeLessons.com.
But all of this just replicates the traditional model of in-person learning… which can be great – but all too often neglects the crucial pieces which actually make you feel like a natural in music.
We’re proud of the community we’ve created over the last two years, and the results our members have been getting. Filling in that missing piece makes a huge difference to making your musical life fun and rewarding.
However, since the beginning we’ve had comments like these:
How do you transfer what’s in your head to playing the same things on guitar?
Which of these exercises can I do on my instrument?
Is there a way to practice interval recognition on piano?
Most members were able to take what they learned in Musical U training modules and apply it on their instrument, and we added exercises to our Roadmaps to help with that. Still, other members wanted more specific guidance, or simply wanted to do more of their practice with their instrument in hand.
We’re constantly listening to member feedback and taking it into account as we grow and develop Musical U. So as I mentioned in last week’s 2-Year Anniversary post we decided to do something about this demand for more instrument-specific training.
On 1st May, we’re unveiling our new Instrument Packs.
It took us a while to figure out the best way to meet this demand for instrument-specific training without branching into teaching instrument technique ourselves. Like I said, we feel there are plenty of sites and fantastic teachers covering that side of things already.
We wanted to provide a bridge, from our core training modules (that can be applied to any instrument) to the instrument technique members were already learning. Something to fit in between the two, and help members to get more practical results from their Musical U training.
We also wanted to make sure we could provide the same high level of personal support and guidance that our members find so valuable.
Here’s what we came up with…
About Instrument Packs
When you take up a new Instrument Pack membership at Musical U you get two major benefits (on top of the 40+ training modules, community features and unlimited personal support and guidance from experts that are all part of our regular membership):
- An instrument-specific Resource Vault, updated every month with a new Resource Pack for your instrument.
- Access to a dedicated area where you can connect with other members who play your instrument and get personal help and support from a Resident Pro for your instrument.
This stays true to the spirit of Musical U where we believe it’s not enough just to have good resources: it’s the combination of training resources, a friendly and supportive community, and access to expert help when you need it that delivers results far better than any other approach.
The Resource Packs are designed to help you apply all the core Musical U training directly on your instrument.
Each month’s pack is on a certain theme and provides:
- A tutorial video teaching you a set of exercises you can do on your instrument, based on the month’s theme.
- A quick reference companion for the video, giving an overview of what’s in the video and providing any details (e.g. chord charts, notation or tab) required for the exercises.
- A set of MP3s which you can use to “learn by listening”, complementary to what’s taught in the tutorial video.
For example, if the theme for the month is “four chord songs” then the Resource Pack for bass might consist of: a tutorial video showing you how to build basslines for the I, IV and V chords in the most common keys and a few interesting exercises to help you get fluid with them and connect with the sound of each chord’s role. The quick reference would have the fretboard diagrams to remind you and provide some starting points for exploring bassline options. The MP3 set would be recordings of various 1-4-5 progressions and basslines which you can use to familiarise yourself with how the progressions/basslines sound and internalise how it all fits together.
Of course each Resource Pack builds on the core training at Musical U, so that if any of the concepts are unfamiliar or you need extra practice, our training modules have you covered.
We offered our existing members early access to the Instrument Packs and the response has been terrific, with many choosing to upgrade their existing membership to add an Instrument Pack.
We’ve had some questions come in too though – so I wanted to give answers in case you’re wondering the same things as you read this!
Will the Instrument Pack cover various genres and styles, like classical and jazzy, playing chords and so on?
Yes, the monthly Resource Packs will teach a range of styles and skills. Note they aren’t designed to teach you to play your instrument from the ground up – we assume you’re learning that side of things with a teacher or course, or you already have an intermediate level.
But these packs will help you connect up those instrument skills with the play-by-ear, improvisation and musical creativity skills you’re learning inside Musical U, and do that in a range of styles and with a range of techniques.
What’s the Singing Instrument Pack going to cover?
Good question! Singing is a little different from other instruments, but you might be surprised how much the same concepts can be applied to develop your musicality as a singer…
We’ll be announcing details of each Resource Pack month-by-month, but to give you an idea, at Musical U we have three aims for singers:
- To get rock-solid on pitch and tuning so that you’re always confident you’re hitting the right notes.
- To gain a broad and deep understanding of how music works so that you can play your part in a group perfectly.
- To develop a strong internal framework of relative pitch, so that you have freedom to improvise and be creative with your singing.
So those are the kinds of things the monthly Resource Packs will be teaching. Things like how to recognise and sing along with chord progressions by ear, how to scat-sing improv solos, how to collaborate with other singers in a group to harmonise by ear, and so on. And of course our Resident Pro will be available to answer any other questions you might have.
Is the normal membership price increasing?
No, that’s the price for the new Instrument Pack membership. If you just want our regular membership (for example because you play harmonica and we don’t (yet!) have an Instrument Pack for that) then you can still join. And in the current promotion you can even do so at a special discounted rate.
When are you going to have an Instrument Pack for banjo/kazoo/French Horn/etc.?
Soon, we hope! We’re starting with piano, guitar, bass and singing because those are the most popular instruments among our existing Musical U members. Roughly 70% of our members play one (or more) of those instruments.
But rest assured, the core training at Musical U can still be applied on whatever instrument you play. So even if the new Instrument Packs aren’t a fit for you, our regular Musical U membership probably still is. The more demand we have for a new Instrument Pack the sooner we’ll be adding it!
It was a tough decision for us to start providing instrument-specific training at Musical U, but ultimately I’m really happy with the approach we settled on.
With the new Instrument Packs we’re able to provide the instrument-specific guidance our members have been craving, without getting muddled up with the basic how-to-play-an-instrument tuition provided elsewhere, and without increasing membership prices for members who don’t currently need the instrument-specific training.
If you’ve been considering joining Musical U but wondered about this question of how easy it would be to apply it all on your instrument, I hope you find this new addition as exciting as we do. And if you play guitar, piano, bass or you sing I hope you might head on over and give it a try!