What does it mean to “make it” as a musician? Is it money? Is it fame? We encounter a lot of fascinating musicians through Easy Ear Training who we believe have “made it” on many different levels. Whether it be gaining recognition in their local scene or making ends meet as a musician in a difficult market at a young age, “making it” is always personal and relative.

Ultimately what matters is the love of music and how happy you are serving it. The rest is icing on the cake.

That said, money does help!

A little while back we featured singer-songwriter Marc With a C in this fantastic interview about the secrets of songwriting. Have a look at Marc’s new Patreon campaign. He’s using this crowd-funding platform popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and webcomic artists to encourage his fans (and maybe you?) to become a modern day music patron!

There’s a lot of interesting food for thought in our roundup this week so be sure to have your coffee before reading on.

It’s okay. We’ll wait…

Sufficiently caffeinated? Great. Let’s get started!

What’s new, Musical U?

We start off this week with an update on all things Musical U. They have been very busy this month with three important updates…

Whats-New-in-Musical-U-September-2016First of all, there is a new mini-challenge to try! The Musical U team dreams up mini-challenges for the members to provide a fun and easy way to put their skills to the test. In response to Musical U members’ feedback, the second major update this month features the rollout of a new interactive quiz system—de-clunkified and easier to use. They also launched a new solfa Roadmap. Roadmaps help members figure out what their most effective training steps will be.

Meet the Team: Communications Manager, Marisa Balistreri

This week we introduced you to another one of our team members, Communications Manager, Marisa Balistreri. Marisa is a professional singer who first “made it” in opera before transitioning successfully into the world of jazz.

Musical-U-team-Marisa-BalistreriIn the team she is responsible for all the Facebook and Twitter posts you see on Easy Ear Training, and also works behind the scenes reaching out to other music education companies to bring you informative interviews and guest posts.

In this interview on the Musical U blog, she discusses her international singing career, gives advice to aspiring singers about the industry, practicing (you’ll be surprised how much she (doesn’t!) practice!) and the world of gypsy jazz.

Learning to Play Guitar by Ear—It Can Be Done!

Have you ever wanted to be that person who can walk into a room and play any song by ear, in any key? It can happen, if you focus on ear training.A Musical Live by Ear- Jazz Guitarist and Composer Dr. Stefan Hall

Dr. Stefan Hall is a professor of Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, but moonlights as a composer and jazz guitarist. Dr. Hall’s approach to learning to play guitar has been unconventional yet highly effective.

Without formal training and only very limited music theory, Hall learned to play almost entirely by ear. Now he sits on stage surrounded by music professors, jamming modern jazz, gypsy jazz, and composing classical music. In the first part of our interview series, we’ll learn how Dr. Hall evolved his ear training approach through his own life experience.

Curious about the perennially resurging and physically demanding genre of gypsy jazz? Have a look at this video from Gypsy Jazz Secrets:

For more history of gypsy jazz, Acoustic Music has this article.

Dr. Hall actually learned guitar by playing along with recordings and movies. Does it actually work? I Was Doing All Right discusses the benefits of playing along with recordings.

Dr. Hall takes inspiration from every corner of his life. One of his arrangements adapts this beautiful love theme—from Conan the Barbarian?!


Five Giants of Rock and Roll Improvisation

The history of rock improvisation can be broken down into two parts:

Before Hendrix. After Hendrix.

Do you agree? Disagree? We could get into a lengthy discussion about who the greatest rock improvisers are, but for the purpose of this week’s article we decided to focus on these five giants: Jimi Hendrix, Robby Krieger, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, and Yngwie Malmsteen.

In addition to the obvious years of practice and dedication, these musicians managed to emerge from the pack with unique and beautiful musical expressions—and their own signature sound. How can you learn to create your own signature sound? The important thing is to listen! What moves you when you hear these greats play?

So what about Van Halen? Zappa? Stevie Ray? Clapton? Prince? For more fodder on who are the greatest rock and roll improvisers of all time, check out The Top Ten’s list of the greatest electric guitarists.

Can’t hold back your opinion anymore? Check out our Facebook post and chime in on who you think are the greatest rock improvisers of all time!

Are you interested in learning more about how to improvise in a rock style? Have a look at Trinity College’s blog, complete with video tutorials.

Music Production Tips from Makina

The worlds of traditional instrumental music and modern music production are not as dissimilar as they first appear. By combining the insights and processes from the traditional and the modern, it’s possible to be more successful in creating distinctive tracks.

Make. Finish. Analyze. 3 Steps to Successful Music ProductionHernan Ambrogi (a.k.a. Makina) is an Argentinian musician who blends Latin American music traditions with modern electronic production techniques, and is especially active in cumbia music. Hernan studied music production at university in Amsterdam and now his music production process relies on his music theory knowledge, practical instrument skills and modern production software and techniques. Above all, he relies on his well-trained ears. We recently interviewed Hernan and he gave us these three steps to music production success.

For more music production tips, have a look at Get That Pro Sound’s 50 pro tips for breathing life into your music production.

Visit the exciting and dynamic world of Cumbia music! Vamos Spanish Academy Language School in Buenos Aires Argentina has this article on Argentinian and Latin American Cumbia music and Medellin Living has more on the Cumbia music revolution.

Choosing a Life in Music

For some musicians, Dylan Welsh is living the dream—making a living as a young musician in the vibrant Seattle music scene. A versatile musician, performer, band leader and educator, Dylan’s career and work ethic inspired us to seek him out. That success did not come without obstacles and valuable lessons learned, however.

Choosing Music- Performer, Bandleader, Studio Musician and Educator Dylan WelshAt the ripe old age of 21, Dylan is already a veteran of the music industry and has some excellent advice for those who wish to make a living as a musician. His wisdom clearly extends well beyond his years. We hope Dylan inspires you to “choose music” and follow your own path.

Are you impressed with Dylan’s career and think you want to give a life in music a try? There are ways to make a living as a musician without leaving your home. The Plucky Pianista has more advice for those who wish to teach lessons online
and in this great blog post for Learn Jazz Standards, jazz guitarist Brent Vaartstra explains how he makes a living as a jazz musician.

As we have seen in the above articles and interviews, it’s not necessary to be rich and famous to be “make it” in music and be a fulfilled and successful musician. Much of it is what you make of it, the goals you set for yourself and how much joy you derive from playing.

Perhaps Bass Player’s United says it best: