Hi, this is Christopher, the founder and director of Musical U. This month we had three major updates inside Musical U which I’d love to share with you.

We posted a new “mini-challenge” for our members to try, we rolled out an all-new quiz system for interval recognition, and we released a new Roadmap for learning solfa.

Let’s dive right in! You can watch the video, or read the transcript below.

New Mini-Challenge

The first major update was the latest in our series of “mini-challenges”. These are fun little challenges we provide for our members to give them an easy way to put their skills to the test. And whether you’re working on playing by ear, or improvisation, or even just active listening, these mini-challenges give you a way to apply your skills to a real music track and compare your results with other members inside Musical U.

So as you can see here, we’ve had a number of mini-challenges in the past, and our latest which Stewart, our Community Conductor, chose, was John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Authority Song”.

It’s a very simple setup. We just encourage our members to take a listen to the song, try and play it by ear, or they might choose to improvise over the track, or some other application of the skills they’ve been working on inside Musical U, and then share their performance or some notes about what they did with the Musical U community. We had a couple of great entries for this contest this month and it was really fun to see our members show off what they could do.

New and Improved Quiz System

The second major update this month was the rollout of our new interactive quiz system. This is really exciting because it’s been in development for quite a long time now in response to our members’ feedback that the quizzes for our Musical U modules are really useful for developing skills but can sometimes be a bit clunky or difficult to use.

So we were working behind the scenes on a brand new quiz system, developed from the ground up specifically for Musical U, and this month we rolled it out for our first topic, which is interval recognition.

Now when you go to one of our Interval Recognition modules and you’re taking one of the lessons – here’s an example, on recognising major and minor thirds – as before we have our Training and Testing tracks, these are MP3s, you can use them on your computer or put on your MP3 player or phone to use “on the go”. And then we have interactive quizzes to test you’ve understood and learned the skills you’ve been trying to.

Here’s an example of a quiz where we’re testing the descending form of the intervals. And while we’re still providing the old quiz system for now – and I’ll just give you a quick peek at that, to give you an idea. You can see how it works, you take a listen, you give your answer, and you find out if you got it right or not. So you can see, the quiz works fine and it’s useful for developing these skills, but it’s not the most interactive or fun.

So we’ve rolled out this new quiz system, as you can see here. And there’s a couple of major benefits.

The first is that you can actually choose which instrument to use. Previously our quizzes all used piano. But now you can choose from piano, guitar, strings (which is currently violin) or wind (which is currently clarinet). You can use any combination of those instrument sounds, and you can also limit the range because some members were having trouble when the notes were very high or very low.

Once you’ve configured it to your liking you’re ready to go, and as you’ll see it’s a much more interactive system. Things move a bit more quickly.

The other major benefit is when you get an answer wrong, you actually get an easy way to compare the right and wrong answers. So we can actually compare what a major and a minor third sound like in this case.

So that gives you a very quick taste of the new quiz system. We’ve been having some very encouraging feedback from our members so far, it seems to be doing the trick, and we’re excited to be rolling this out now for other topics over the next couple of months. This is just for intervals so far but we’ll be adding chords, chord progressions, solfa and rhythm over the next month or two.

New Roadmap for learning Solfa

The third major update was a new Roadmap. Roadmaps are our way of helping members figure out what their training steps should be. They guide you to a learning a “big picture” skill like playing by ear or learning to sing in tune. And this new Roadmap is for Playing Melodies By Ear using Solfa.

You may have heard of the Solfa framework, it’s the “do re mi” system and it’s a powerful way to learn to recognise the notes in music. The Roadmap is broken into six phases, which lead you from the very basics through to being able to play quite complicated melodies by ear using solfa.

You can see a full preview of this roadmap on our website, and it’s going to be guiding our members inside Musical U to quickly learn the powerful Solfa framework.

Thank you for joining me for this quick peek inside Musical U, and this summary of what’s new inside this month!