Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Look beyond the green beer and leprechauns and you’ll find the towering figure of St. Patrick himself, who was among the brave Irish men and women who tenaciously clung to civilization when the rest of Europe was overrun with brutal barbarians.

Legend has it that St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland and converted the wild men. Today we seek to tame our own musical barbarians: walking into your first ear training class, the sometimes tortuous process of writing a song, or figuring out what to do with a mixolydian mode.

In true Irish style, we’ll finish with a Celtic music celebration. But first, let’s address those snakes:

Snake Charming

Well there’s nothing more snaky in music than scales, and especially those mysteriously multiplying modes with their weird Greek names. Improvisation offers a fun, easy way to untangle the modal mess. Start with this Crazy Easy Weird (Modal) Improv Trick.

Andrew Wasson from Creative Guitar Studio has some great tips in this video that will help you master the modes:


Pete Thomas from Taming the Saxophone shows how to tame the modes and put them to work in jazz improvisation.

John’s Fiddle Lessons from Bluegrass Daddy conjures up some more modal magic. His videos walk you through how to learn scales over modal chord progressions to help develop your improvisation skills!

Barbarian Taming

quotes songwritingCeltic melodies seem sublime and eternal. But while they sound like they’re born out of the stones and the green, some human had to have come up with them.

But sometimes writing that next song feels like trying to convert a barbarian. How do you find the inner power to carry on? Learn from the greats in these 8 Inspiring Quotes about Songwriting.

Songwriters are not born, they are made through years of dedicated practice. Having a solid work ethic and perfecting your art will make the difference as you grow as a musician. Cliff Goldmacher gives four reasons songwriting talent isn’t enough.

Songwriting is one of the most fun exercises that many musicians do, and can be very rewarding. But is there are relationship between songwriting, theory and ear training? Ask Holistic Songwriting:


Songwriting isn’t just fun for adults. Dave Ruch quotes a recent survey which revealed that 92% of elementary teachers want to use more music in the classroom. Songwriting in the schools is proven to engage kids, help make the learning fun, and reach diverse types of students.

Preparing for Battle

Ever faced an impenetrable wall of hostile barbarians? Try walking into your first college ear training class!

No one knows better than Joanna Tse, aka Just Another Flutist: this acclaimed performing artist and edutainer actually failed her first ear training course. Thankfully, she shares her learning with us with these 5 Tips on Preparing for your First Ear Training Course.

Who knows? Prepare like St. Patrick and the battle may melt away before it begins!

Joanna showed how learning the basic chord progressions helps you prepare for your first ear training course. This cool video from the Piano Wizard Academy will show you how to play these essential chords on the piano in no time:


Joanna recommends learning your “guilty pleasure” music by ear. Learning by ear can be a very fun exercise, but how do you start? Here are three steps from JoyTunes to help you improve your ability to play the piano by ear.

She also emphasizes the importance of intervals. Intervals are more fun and easy to remember when you are able to use some well-known songs as a reference. Your Personal Singing Guide show you some tricks to master your intervals in no time at all.

Celtic Celebration!

You’ve tamed the snakes and converted the barbarians. Now it’s time to celebrate! Open Your Ears to Celtic Music.

Celtic music can be played on many different instruments, as was shown in the Musical U article. For our guitar playing readers, Guitar Noise gives a lesson on getting that Celtic guitar sound that will have you playing in no time.

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just for adults! There are plenty of songs that children will enjoy just as much as adults. Marc Gunn Music brings us 12 Irish Songs for kids that are perfect for dancing and singing!

Ready to play some Irish tunes yourself? The Online Academy of Irish Music presents a fun introduction to learning Celtic music on the traditional fiddle:

The Music of the Green

Yes, St. Patrick’s day is a beautiful time of year. Whether you’re buried in Wisconsin snow, feeling your way through the London fog, basking in the sunshine of Oahu’s beaches, or strolling through the brisk morning of the Mexican highlands, the spirit of the green seems to be everywhere!

What better way to practice your ear training today than to learn an Irish melody by ear? Grab your whistle and toodle out a mixolydian dance tune – you may even find inspiration for your next song!

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