Ah, yes… the familiar feeling of having a song stuck in your head. Every musician and music lover has experienced it at some point, and it’s a phenomenon that should make us excited, not annoyed – it means we have the ability to hear music in our head, without a single note being played out loud.

This week, we explore the chord progressions that countless popular songs share and look at why these songs are absolute earworms, interview a music educator who emphasizes the importance of hearing music in your head, and dedicate an entire podcast episode to the topic of audiation – also known as deliberately imagining the music you’re about to play before your fingers hit a single note. Lastly, we take a closer look at CNVS’s stellar debut full-length album Gran Copiloto, and why this collection of songs won’t leave your subconscious for a long time to come.

But first, something to improve the voice you hear inside your own head…

June’s Masterclass

June masterclassWe’re delighted to announce that this month’s Masterclass will be led by Davin Youngs of the Chicago Singing Circle. He will be joining us on June 30th for an hour-long live lesson on the topic of sounding good as a singer.

If you’ve ever been afraid to sing in front of people, or think singing is irrelevant to your instrument playing, or are reluctant to record your singing voice – you won’t want to miss this!

Register here, and we’ll see you at the end of the month!

Popular Progressions

If you think all songs on the radio seem to sound the same, we’re happy to reassure you that you haven’t lost your mind.

Though there is a near-infinite amount of possible chord progressions, there is a surprising degree of overlap in the progressions that those radio-friendly earworms are built on. And for good reason – some sequences of chords simply stick, by virtue of having a pleasant and satisfying overall sound. 

Popular chord progressionsLearn about this phenomenon in Exploring Common Chord Progressions, where we introduce you to the popular kids in (chordal) school, why they’re so well-liked, and how to use them to write your own hit.

It can be easy to think of chords as just a component of musicality, but many of the tools that we stress here at Musical U (scales, intervals, and the circle of fifths) are all part of the broader picture of what makes chords and chord progressions work. To dive deeper into this concept, Sound Bridge explores the relationship between the elements of music and diatonic chords.

Guitar players have all the tricks! For guitar players, changing keys can be quite simple, especially if the guitarist uses a capo. To learn more about this wonderful musical tool, check out Tomas Michaud’s lesson on incorporating a capo into your music.

We learned quite a few chord progressions in this packed article, and we hope that you are busy exploring them! It’s interesting to note that many of the popular songs that define our interest in music have very similar chord progressions. So much, in fact, that the Chord Genome Project asserts that by learning just 23 chords, you will be able to play the majority of popular songs. Find out more and take the challenge!

Music and Curiosity

Curiosity may routinely kill cats, but it does absolute wonders for music teachers and learners alike.

Sharon Mark-Teggart is one of the brilliant minds behind The Curious Piano Teachers, an organization aiming to shift the mindset of music educators towards open-mindedness, curiosity, and centering the student by making the lessons about their learning, and not the educator’s teaching.

Sharon Mark-Teggart interviewRead our interview with her over at Becoming Curious, with Sharon Mark-Teggart to gain some amazing insights on teaching, learning, and the power of an inquisitive approach to music.

Sharon spoke about her music toolbox, and how she brought this with her each time she performed or had a new student. But what exactly should be in your music toolbox as a learner? Kathleen Ballantyne outlines the seven elements of musicality that a musician needs to be successful on the Alfred Music website.

We all know that every musician learns differently, and it’s important that we consider these differences when learning music. One factor is whether a musician is left-brained or right-brained. Sublimelody approaches learning the piano through both of these paradigms, and gives solutions that will be valuable to any music learner.

Sharon talked about the significance of learning how to sing the part that she was getting ready to play, and how much it improved her overall musical understanding of the piece. It’s true that most instrumentalists will never become “singers”, but applying the art of singing can be very important to your musical growth. Robert from Living Pianos dives deeper into the subject of the importance of singing for instrumentalists.

A Great Sidekick

From one of the most musically diverse countries in the world comes CNVS, a rock band with an emotionally charged and beautifully textured sound that immediately jumps out at you in their stellar debut full-length album Gran Copiloto (translation: Great Copilot).

Gran Copiloto CNVSIn Open Your Ears to Gran Copiloto with CNVS, we give you an introduction to these Mexico-based rockers and dig into the instrumentation, song structure, and lyricism that lend Gran Copiloto’s tracks their incredible, genre-transcending sound.

Ready to feast your ears on the whole album, start to finish? Just in time – Gran Copiloto is out today, June 15th, on Spotify.

A great band has a specific dynamic that they are able to achieve during the songwriting process. However, it can be difficult to develop the ability to write songs together. If you need something to jumpstart your creative process, consider songwriting sprints – Todd from Heat on the Street explains how to get started.

We love the music of CNVS for many reasons. Not the least of these is how they are able to integrate so many different styles and sounds into a truly unique form. For other ways to develop a one-of-a-kind songwriting style, look no further than Guitar and Lace’s tips for crafting unique musical creations.

In addition to the fantastic music, the lyrical content in this album is spellbinding, effortlessly going back and forth between English and Spanish. Writing great lyrics doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration – check out Musician Port’s 10 tips to get you started.

CNVS have certainly found their niche, and we are happy to be able to share their music with you. There are so many ways for musicians to bring their music to the public in new and interesting ways. Robin from Urban Masterclass is another artist that has found his speciality, and shares with us how to make a living selling beats online. This isn’t only for the producers – no matter what your genre is, Robin has some great tips for navigating the online music marketplace.

The Music In Your Head

In the same way that an artist can visualize a work before it’s even made, a musician can hear music in their head before a single note is played.

This is a skill known as audiation, and in fact, it’s a skill you already have.

The skill of audiationIn About Audiation, we share how you can use your skill to improve your musical memory, play more naturally and musically, and do the (seemingly) impossible: practice your repertoire without even having your instrument in your hands!

Though we are all born with the ability to audiate, it’s a skill you can grow and develop, to become a “superlistener” – with the ability to discern not only the basic melody, but also complex rhythms, harmony, and tonal centers. Color In My Piano explains how to get started developing your audiation skills, and the benefits it brings.

As we learned, developing audiation skills is powerful way to visualize and hear the music without ever having to play it on your instrument. Though it can be challenging to develop this skill to a highly proficient level, it proves incredibly rewarding. Learn how one music teacher uses this skill in her classroom with Mallets and Music.

After developing your audiation skills, you will find that you can not only be more musical on your instrument, but you can practice and think about music without an instrument. Catherine from The Piano Practice Eastbourne discusses the many ways that you can enhance your musicality without ever picking up your instrument.

From Your Head to Your Fingers

You may not love how songs get stuck in your head, but in truth, this may be your brain telling you that it’s itching to audiate!

How great would it be to practice your musical repertoire without even touching your instrument? How much would your playing improve if you could imagine the music you’re about to play in your head?

Head over to our podcast episode on audiation to learn how you can harness this innate skill to understand and play your music like you’ve never played it before.

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