The best and most rewarding paths to improving your musicality are often the most challenging ones.
This shouldn’t discourage you – quite the opposite. You’ll find you can learn by leaps and bounds in situations where you are challenged, because you find yourself wanting to rise to the occasion.
This week, we explore some seemingly intimidating topics, and break down how you can make them accessible and learnable for yourself: we look at the exciting and stimulating waters of multi-instrumentalism, sit down with a singing mythbuster to learn how you can apply science to your singing for amazing results, introduce you to a process for learning to read music if it’s a skill you’ve yet to tackle, and give a primer on the seemingly-difficult-but-actually-not topic of musical frequencies.
Each of these involves going deeper than your mere practice – it involves looking at the mechanics of your practice, the “how” and “why” of why you play, how you play, and how you can improve. Get excited!
Learning a second, or third, or fourth instrument is one of the most challenging yet rewarding ways to expand your musicality.
And we’re not talking about being a guitar virtuoso and sometimes dabbling with the harmonica a little bit – we’re talking about a range of proficiency in more than one instrument, in a way that benefits all aspects of your musical practice: your songwriting, your understanding of theory, your aural skills, and your ability to play in a group setting.
If you’re deciding whether earning another instrument is right for you at this point in your journey, or want to read more about what benefits you can look forward to if you undertake to learn a new instrument, there is no better place to get the info you need than Musicality Means: Playing More Than One Instrument.
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and add another instrument to your repertoire. What instrument should it be? Learning to play the basics on the piano is a very valuable skill that can serve your musicality in multiple ways. For more information, Jason at Teach2Teach discusses why every musician should learn piano.
Once you have a second instrument under your fingers, is there any limit to where you can take your musical prowess? New-York based musician Josh Plotner doesn’t think so, and has created some truly amazing renditions of popular songs where he plays all the parts. Be sure to check out his amazing take on “Bohemian Rhapsody” using more than a dozen different woodwind instruments.
In addition to all the benefits that playing multiple instruments has for performing, multi-instrumentalism has immense benefits for those that are music producers also. No matter what level you are working at, you can increase your capacity to produce music by learning additional instruments – even the enthusiast working on GarageBand! For more information about why multi-instrumentalists make better producers and how you can get started, we turn to Dan Cooper at Rodel Sound.
Busting Vocal Myths
The vocal world is absolutely rife with myths about all things singing; if you’re a singer, you’ve likely been given some bizarre advice on how to pronounce vowels “naturally”, what to (or not to) eat and drink before your big performance, or something about “singing from your diaphragm”.
Allan Hubert-Wright is the founder of Le Chanteur Moderne, one of the most respected vocal training institutes in France. There, he helps his students bring out the best in their voice – using modern vocal science and hard facts about the human voice. In Singing and Science: Busting Myths, with Allan Hubert-Wright, he tackles some pervasive vocal myths, gives you the truth about learning to sing, and shares insights that will save you years of frustration and wasted effort if you’re just starting to sing.
Allan breaks down a subject which gets so much attention in the singing world: how to breathe as a singer. Eager to find more resources that will help you, we found these wonderful vocal and breathing exercises from Molly’s Vocal Studio to get started you started.
Many singers begin with a certain goal, a certain style of music that they would like to begin singing. This is only natural, and a great way to begin as a singer. As you continue to progress, however, you may want to begin branching out into other styles as well. Nancy Bos teaches how you can train your voice for any style.
One of the most pervasive myths of the singing world has been the concept of diaphragm breathing. But, as Allan explained, this technique does not help a vocalist gain the strength and control that they need to perform. For another perspective and some helpful tips to begin improving your vocal breathing today, Kevin Richards from Rock the Stage NYC discusses belly breathing.
Music from the Page
Reading music can be a tricky beast to handle, and may seem like a daunting skill to acquire for those who are just starting to play, or those who typically play by ear.
In 4 Tips for Learning to Read Music – the Fun Way, Braedin Lewis of JamAlong outlines a method of learning to read music that is interactive, collaborative, and simple – a process that cuts the intimidation and tediousness factor, and sets you up to be able to jam collaboratively, play the music you love, and stay motivated while you tackle learning this skill.
Should you learn to read sheet music? While we are big advocates of learning to play by ear, learning to read music is another important part of growing your musicality skills. Take your ear training skills and bring it to the music with some suggestions from Fire Inside Music.
Using tools like flashcards and games is a fun and engaging way to study music. And, as the saying goes, “There’s an App for that”! We were happy to find an app that is equal parts interactive, engaging, and adorable – learn more about Melody Cats, an App where cats help you learn your notes, melodies, and rhythms.
Sight reading, especially with a music study buddy, is another way to improve your music reading, not to mention honing the much-coveted skill of sight reading itself! While every musician struggles to become better at sight reading, it is a skill that can be learned through deliberate practice. Very Piano gives some pointers on improving your sight reading skills.
Science is a big part of music, and understanding the science behind your practice is a great challenge for those looking to take their practice to the next level.
This week on the Musicality Podcast, we give an introductory primer on the topic of audio frequencies. If you’ve ever wondered about the bass/treble knob on your stereo receiver, been curious about EQing, or just want to understand the sounds your instrument makes a little better, don’t miss our episode About Frequencies in Music.
This was a fascinating discussion that went into topics we don’t typically cover on the podcast. But the fundamentals of what makes music music are truly amazing and should be looked at from the scientific perspective. Bo Constantinsen discusses this topic further on whatmusicreallyis.com.
From simple 3-band to complex 64-band equalizers, EQing your musical mix is imperative if you are playing through any kind of electronics, or if you’re recording your music. Audio Skills teaches using an EQ in only 4 easy steps.
As we near the end of this week’s roundup, we wanted to share with you a feel-good story about the power of music education. NBC Los Angeles recently ran a story about how one music teacher is increasing his student’s math test scores by teaching them music. Our world of music is truly amazing, and it warms our hearts to see that Lamar is enhancing the lives of the children he meets by bringing music to them.
The Anatomy of Music
As any seasoned musician will tell you, once you get to a certain level in your musicality, the next step is to understand the “how” and “why” behind what you’re playing.
Do you exclusively play by ear? Consider how you can enrich your musicality further by learning to read music as well – the two skills go together beautifully. Are you looking to step up your singing game? Learning about the science of singing will make you impervious to the ridiculous vocal myths out there, and allow you to hone your voice on your own terms. If you’ve mastered your instrument already, your musical journey is far from over – the opportunities of learning a second instrument and diving into the world of musical frequencies are knocking at your door.
Taking the time to understand the mechanics and science behind music yields some incredible results for your musicality – what better way to play your instrument than with a deep understanding and appreciation for it?