Aug 17

How songs make learning music better, faster, stronger. Not harder.

by in Melodics, Product Updates & Releases

Listening to music inspired many of us to pick up an instrument in the first place. You’ve actually been practicing your whole life, just by listening to music.

The Melodics approach has always been to make sure our lessons represent the sounds of modern music, and that above all else our learners are having an experience that’s relevant. Gone are the days of learning nursery rhymes before you learn the real stuff. Still D.R.E is the new Twinkle Twinkle.

We’ve talked to people about their past experiences of music education, and a common thread we see time and time again is that they gave up because the things they were learning didn’t line up with the musical experiences they had grown up with; it wasn’t familiar, or what they wanted to actually play.

Until now our lessons and courses have been created for Melodics in-house by our music team, who in their own time are successful producers, band members and music teachers. We’ve also worked closely with artists to produce original content. But while it sounds like the music you know, it’s still not exactly the music you know.

 

So what’s the missing piece to the puzzle?

While our guided path, courses, lessons and exercises are the ideal way to build your skills as a beginner – exploring and learning popular songs takes you from instrument learner to instrument player.

Learning songs is about building your repertoire. The things you can play anytime, anywhere, and share with anyone over a lifetime.

Practice makes more sense if you’re aiming for something. With songs, there’s now something to put a target on and a goal to reach. There’s also the benchmarking of your progress that happens when you learn another song. What is a better sign that you’ve made progress, than saying “I can play that now” when it’s in the context of a song we all know and love?

At Melodics we aim to provide a learning experience that is fun, relevant and effective, and an experience of learning that makes progress consistent and easy to maintain. As a beginner we recommend the Guided Path to lay important skill foundations and let us hold your hand. As you begin to improve and your confidence grows, it’s time to start exploring and pushing your learning edge in different directions through our open catalog of lessons and courses.

Songs are the newest addition, where you can put everything you’re learning from the guided path, lessons and courses into practice.

– Benjamin Locke, Melodics’ Music Team Lead

 

Songs will be available to subscribers in Melodics from September. If you’re new to Melodics, you can start your journey now and build up your skills to get ready.

Learn more about Songs – coming soon.

Aug 02

The music you love is coming to Melodics.

by in Melodics, Product Updates & Releases

Set for official release this September; Songs is an exciting new catalog of Melodics lessons based on popular music from artists you love. With Songs, you can learn to play music you know, the songs that inspire you and grow your repertoire of real-world sounds.

Songs from artists like Green Day, Lorde, Dr Dre, Queen, System Of A Down, Beyonce, Silk Sonic, Outkast, and many more.

Songs will be available to subscribers in Melodics from September. For current subscribers and those who subscribe before launch – you’ll get access first with a free upgrade to your plan.


Songs give practice new meaning

While Melodics’ Guided learning content and lessons are the best place for building your skills, exploring Songs help you benchmark your ability in a real-world context and give you something to aim for.

Until now, we’ve heard users say they have been unable to really know how their skills translate into the real world. Songs make all that practice worthwhile when you have a target in mind.

Read more about how Songs fit into the bigger picture of your learning experience.

Songs -- the request line is open!

Popular songs are the number one request from users. We’re designing our diverse catalog with the community feedback in our minds. 

The request line is open, and we’re excited to hear more of what drummers, keys players and finger drummers want to play.

Let us know what you want to play in the Melodics Facebook community.


Pitch-perfect renditions of your favorite jams

Our covers are lovingly produced by our in-house music team with a focus on high-quality sound.

With such a strong focus on the audio quality, you can close your eyes and project yourself into the studio at Abbey Road, or the stage at Coachella. 

Open up the updated Melodics app and listen to a sample of what’s coming.

The same powerful learning tools

Songs come with all the power of Melodics behind them. Songs meet you at your level of ability with versions appropriate at all skill levels. 

Practice tools and real-time feedback will help you quickly improve your playing. Trophies, records, levels and rewards help you track progress and motivate you towards your goals.


Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to the official launch date, as well as a sneak peek of what’s coming.

Start your journey now and build up your skills to get ready:  Download Melodics.

Jul 13

Your all-new Progress Overview

by in Melodics, Product Updates & Releases

 

Melodics has laid some new foundations in the Progress section of the app.

The new Progress Overview tab is a single resource to help you start or continue making more progress with your learning.

Melodics’ measures of progress simplify how “practice makes perfect.” We heard from users that Stars, Levels, Records and Trophies needed a clean way to make better sense of them; what they mean, how to get them in the first place, and what you need to do to get more.


What’s changed?

Your progress tab won’t only show you what you’ve done. The Progress Overview shows you what you can do next to take that progress even further. With goals defined, you have something to aim for — so what better way to show progress than with a progress bar? 😆

The new UI in the Progress Overview section

In the Overview tab, you’ll see all the familiar indicators of your progress at a high level: your Level, Stars and Records collected, as well as how much time and effort you’ve put in through Streaks, Trophies and Daily Goals achieved.

Check out the new way to keep track of your progress in your all-new Progress Overview – just restart Melodics to update to the latest version 2.1.8044, or download it here.

 


Jun 23

Your key to unlocking music

by in Fundamentals, Music

Do I need to read music?

Music theory is a way of describing the things in music that different people, in different cultural contexts have found to sound good to them. We believe that music doesn’t flow from theory – theory flows from music.

From traditional and folk styles of music right up to the contemporary — none have ever required theory. Notation does not necessitate beautiful music creation (and nor does it prevent you from learning to play the popular music you love) — but it can still facilitate it in certain circumstances if needed.


wrecking crew

So why was sheet music a thing?

Before recorded music or digital technologies, sheet music was a standardised way to precisely describe, and communicate complex musical ideas from a composer’s mind, to the musicians who would be able to play it exactly as it was imagined. Without notation, the world’s most acclaimed classical composers — Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and everyone else — would have had no voice, and their music would have died with them.

Notation in a way, was the precursor to recorded music as we know it. Common use of sheet notation in the music industry progressed into 20th century pop with famous session bands like the Wrecking Crew smash out hit-after-Motown-hit; being able to rapidly learn several new songs every session and execute a top of the pops hit on the spot with minimal practice. This made fluency in site-reading notation a real skill to have.


When isn’t sheet music really needed in contemporary times?

For every Wrecking Crew session muso in 1960s , there are thousands more musicians around the world making music without ever needing to read the stave. Elton John himself learned by ear first, long before he ever went on to study theory. Legends like Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Prince and even Dave Brubeck never learned how to read music at all. From Vanessa Carlton’s “Thousand Miles”, Outkast’s “Roses”, Alicia Keys “Fallin’” to Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” — it would be unreal to think they were composed and learned with sheet notation.

You can learn all the music from artists like these you admire with Melodics’ song-based learning approach. All without sheet notation, and play it any time, anywhere, with anyone you like.


When might you still need notation?

You might need to read music if you ever think you’ll be doing a “reading gig” — that is if you need to play music exactly as it has been composed, where it is too complex or lengthy to memorise. This is of course ever-present in Classical, and also in some Jazz, Musical Theatre and Cinema settings.

Although understanding the background principles of how to read music is fairly straightforward — It’s a lot of work to be able to read music fluently and at a professional level. For many, the hard slog to get the degree of fluency required for this might put you off, but many musicians are instead adept at being able to figure out, and play by ear, and confident enough to add impromptu creative flair when playing and recording.


Summary:

your key to unlocking music

Do you need to read music? No. But you might wish to really be fluent site reading in some particular instances. It depends what your musical goals are, but it’s important to remember that one of the reasons most people don’t succeed with an instrument is because they don’t practice – not their grasp of theory!

You can absolutely learn theory by playing – and it will make so much more sense when you learn it from a real-life playing context, rather than it being a key that unlocks certain music for you. When an audience is listening, they can’t tell your site-reading ability, but they can hear your skill and confidence – so get out there, have fun and play!

 

Jun 13

The 3 Universal Components of Finger Drumming

by in Fundamentals, Pads

The ability to finger drum transforms a pad controller into an incredibly versatile instrument.

Instead of being limited to step sequencing or programming, the accomplished finger drummer unlocks the full range and expression available to musicians. The result is creative possibility shifting back into the producer’s hands.

Pads are such a unique and diverse instrument it can be overwhelming, and hard to know where to begin. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way!

First and foremost, let’s master the basics.


The 3 Universal Components of Finger Drumming

With MIDI pads, there are always three distinct components which all interact and amount to how you can play. Consider these when approaching your practice and performance on pads:

 

Component #1: Your controller’s layout (aka The Foundation)

Your layout is the physical arrangement of the pads and the selected samples assigned to each. The layout chosen will define the style of your performance.

The examples in this article will use a 4 x 4 pad, but there is a multitude of other pad arrangements available too. You can find smaller ones, such as 4 x 2 or even much larger arrangements as big as 8 x 8.

MIDI pad layouts

 

Component #2: The track’s rhythm (aka The Method)

The rhythmic information informs how to interact with your pads layout, in order to perform the desired sequence of beats and samples.

Further on in this article, we’ll run through some examples on how a 4 x 4 arrangement can have different samples assigned to the pads, depending on what you want to rhythmically play in a song.

 

Component #3: Your coordination (aka The Delivery)

This is the dexterous use of one’s hands and fingers and how they physically play the rhythm onto a layout.

This will determine if it will be best to use your right or left hand, as well as finger allocation for any given beat. It’s especially important to consider you coordination when you start incorporating multiple samples/using more pads in your performance.

The most important thing with coordination is to plan ahead. Your positioning may change depending on the pad layout so work out which pads you need throughout a song, and position yourself comfortably so that each pad is easily within reach.

Let’s explore the interrelationship between these three core components to see how more complex layouts can unlock more rhythmical possibilities for you, but may also require more advanced coordination techniques and dexterity.

If we show you an example of how to play the same song five different ways, you might better understand how you could too can approach learning to play pads, and increase your skill and coordination along the way.


 

First Performance

First Performance

This first performance shows all of the three finger drumming components presented in their most basic form: There is one sample (i.e. the whole track), so the layout assigned this to just one pad, played on the first beat with one finger.


 

Second Performance

Second performance

Making it a little more complicated — we’ve chopped the first performance track into four.

The layout assigns four samples, over four different pads, with each sample being played over a half note. In terms of coordination, this layout and rhythm is simple enough that as few as one index finger can still play all the samples in succession.


 

Third Performance

Third Performance

Let’s increase the complexity of the coordination, and bring in some more fingers to play the drum groove over a backing! We’ve separated the kick and the snare rhythm for the groove, from the melody/bassline/hi-hats backing. One pad triggers that melody/bassline/hi-hats backing track; and one pad is assigned each for kick and snare samples.

As the backing track plays the full duration, the separately played kick and snare drums need to do the job of keeping the percussive rhythm in time with the hi-hat subdivisions. Index fingers on alternating hands play the kick and snare pattern; with the backing track being triggered by the middle finger on the first beat (along with the kick), and playing the full length of the track.

Separating the backing from the beat components lets you focus on and experiment with variations on the beat. Having a more complex layout (assigning more samples to different pads, for instance with additional drum samples) gives you more options rhythmically, but by the same virtue requires you to be more confident with keeping time. This third performance further illustrates this flexibility, by showing a slightly different drum beat than the first and second performances.


 

Fourth Performance

Fourth Performance

We’ve now broken out the full drum kit (kick, snare and the hi-hat) to their own assigned pads; and chopped the baseline + melody backing into four additional samples (assigned to four different pads to trigger).

This means that we have to trigger the backing track samples every second beat; whilst also playing every component of the drum beat. Note from the video how the finger used to trigger the kick starts with the thumb, but plays the last three beats instead with the middle finger.

This performance shows you that chopping the backing tracks differently whilst still playing the drum beats on time can lend a syncopated air if done right.


 

Fifth Performance

Fifth performance

This is the most complex performance layout chosen for this exercise – although unlike the fourth performance, we will only be using the index and middle fingers of each hand, with no switching fingers for different beats.

We’ve broken out the kick, snare and hi-hats for the drum beats; and similarly separated the backing track’s melody from its bass track, in three different samples.

Each pad sample needs to be triggered on different beats in the measure, with different frequency depending on the sample – Note how the layout helps with this, by focusing on playing ergonomics for both the left and right hands.

The interplay between the melody backing, and bassline creates a new challenge to play in conjunction with a separate drum groove. Nevertheless, the degree of coordination required to play the rhythm does allow you far greater rhythmic and melodic freedom in your performance – once your skill-level is there.

This layout approach would be ideal for exploring sample chopping, and mix-matching different backing sections to compose new tracks with in the future as you get more confident in your playing ability.


 

Conclusion

These performances show you five different ways to perform the same song live, using a different layout for each. Each performance gradually increases from fundamental to a more complex layout, with the rhythm and coordination skill required becoming more advanced.

When you’re approaching finger drumming, samples and layouts, consider how much rhythmical freedom you require in your performance, and your confidence in layout-making and coordination. You can adapt any or all of these three areas accordingly in your own playing, or use Melodics step-by-step structure and multi-difficulty lessons to gradually increase this complexity for you.

By splitting the backing track(s) out from the percussion tracks, you can see that there is more rhythmical freedom for your playing.

Putting backing tracks to one side, if you would like to focus on upskilling your drum groove playing, we highly recommend you start with the Melodics’ course on Mirrored Layout for pads.

This will help you master the art of finger drumming, and you will be much more confident to explore the advanced world of playing with backings, sample chopping, and layout-making.

May 26

Guided Learning: the perfect foundation to start your musical journey

by in Fundamentals, Melodics, Pro Tips

Where do you start? Where do you go next? What do you do when things get tricky? What should you be focusing on?

These are common questions we hear from those looking to get started – and we felt the same thing when we were beginners. Because sometimes, it’s just nice to have a little guidance!


Say hello to Melodics’ Guided Path.

The Guided Path is your introduction to the critical skills needed to play drums, keys, or pads confidently.

Here you’ll find a map through a curated selection of Melodics Courses – specifically designed to help you find your way to improve your skills from the ground up on your chosen instrument..

Don’t worry about having any prior experience or theoretical knowledge: The Guided Path starts you off with playing music at your level, and growing your ability right from the beginning!

If you’re new to learning and unsure if you’re ready to dive into the vast array of Lessons and Courses available in Melodics: then working your way through each Course in the Guided Path will make sure you stay focused, and lay down the rock-solid foundation you need first to continue building upon and explore throughout your musical life.


What does the Guided Path look like?

Starting with fundamental musical building blocks, then expanding and branching into more specific concepts and skills – the Guided Path grows with you as your ability and interests progress.

What do you want to learn? Take your pick of drums, keys, or pads – there is a dedicated Guided Path for each of them. In total, there are more than 60 courses and over 250 lessons as part of the Guided Paths that are there to guide you every step of the way.

Melodics Drums Guided Path

The Guided Path for Drums.

The Guided Path for Drums is based around developing a comprehensive understanding of the basic drum grooves and applying rudiments. From there, you’ll develop the skills to create your own grooves, and beyond.

Once you’ve developed a solid foundation, you’ll explore courses on coordination, building limb independence, exciting fills, linear playing, and time signatures which will prime you for confidently stepping out into the world of more advanced drumming.

The Melodics Guided Path for Drums will support you when you are stuck, providing a way to trace back to the fundamental skills you might have missed, allowing you to learn and develop the skills that matter, faster.
– Benjamin Locke, Creative Production & Content Creator

 

Melodics Keys Guided Path

The Guided Path for Keys.

The Melodics Guided Path for Keys is a modern curriculum for anyone keen to learn the keyboard – focusing on both practical and theoretical concepts through Melodics’ play-to-learn methodology.

Feel free to start off with the basics, like orienting your left and right hands, rhythm and time signatures, note lengths and note interval basics. From there, you can get introduced to playing melodies, triads, chord inversions, 7th chords, common chord progressions, rhythmic syncopation, arpeggios, and basslines – all the building blocks of modern music!

Higher and lower-level concepts are always present in music – The journey of music is non-linear and all about making connections between things. The more connections you make, the more you start to recognise certain features, almost as though they weren’t there before.
– Robert Bruce, Creative Production & Content Creator

With an emphasis on a wide range of contemporary genres like Hip-Hop, Pop, RnB and Electronic, completing the Guided Path is guaranteed fun and accessible for everyone.

 

Melodics Drums Guided Path

The Guided Path for Pads.

The Melodics Guided Path for Pads is the first interactive music-learning program designed specifically for Pads as an instrument. It’s important for anyone who wants help building and strengthening their finger drumming skill-set.

The pads Guided Path starts you off with exploring your instrument from a rhythmic perspective: coordination, orientation, counting beats, and seeing beat subdivisions. You’ll hone in on how to think and play pads like a drummer does drums using the Mirror Layout, build upon the classic Backbeat, into creating drum grooves and develop a syncopated swung-feel in your playing style.

By playing through the Guided Path you will exercise core skills in multiple musical contexts. Through this, you will gain adaptability and versatility in your playing. Adapting your style and problem solving helps you connect your physical skills with your conscious understanding of what you are trying to do. This will help you become a better finger drummer and musician.
– Ruby Walsh, Creative Production & Content Strategy

You’ll have built a solid foundation to progress into where pads as an instrument really shines: the exciting world of live beat techniques, and incorporating instrumental and scale sounds into your playing repertoire – whether that’s in the bedroom, with a band, the studio or the stage.


The Guided Path has evolved! What’s new?


We’ve given our Guided Path a huge boost. Along with introducing new, revamped courses by our expert music team, we’ve combined two essential Melodics features to give you the ultimate learning experience: Guided Path and Records.

 

Guided Path: meet Records.

We see the Guided Path as an incredibly valuable learning environment for those new to an instrument.

Where the Guided Path helps you build up a solid foundation of critical skills you might need to confidently explore music – Records provide video explanations of those concepts and ideas, which summarise and keep track of everything you’ve just learned.

Combining these two is the perfect marriage! Incorporating Records helps to better reinforce the benefits of the Guided Path, offering an all-in-one, synergetic place to learn, explore and measure your mastery of fundamental musical skills as you progress.

We’ve re-assigned Records so that they are solely found and collected in corresponding lessons throughout the Guided Path, to really support the topic you’re learning at that time. When you want to review or revisit Records all in one place, just head to your Progress section in Melodics.

 

 

Dec 13

Melodics Trophies

by in Uncategorized

One of the core beliefs here at Melodics is that focused, consistent and regular practice — even if it is just 5 minutes a day — is hugely beneficial to your growth as a musician.


We believe that putting aside time for regular practice in small increments is a better approach for gaining lasting skills and knowledge when compared to long, unfocused or infrequent practice sessions. As such, in Melodics we have included mechanics that emphasise aiming for 5 minutes practice per day — and give rewards that celebrate the frequency with which you achieve that 5 minute daily goal.

Melodics Streaks & Trophies

 

One of those mechanics that we have used to reward regular practice is Streaks, which tracks how many days in a row a user has reached that 5 minute daily goal in Melodics. This has functioned as a great motivator for a lot of you – seeing that Streak number keep ticking up is a fantastic way to keep you on your practice journey every day.

However – even the most dedicated musicians need days off sometimes!


This is why we are introducing Trophies.

Trophies, like Streaks, reward you for putting in that 5 minutes a day, but instead of starting back at square one when you miss a day, you are rewarded for your cumulative practice efforts.

Every practice session brings you closer to your goals as a musician, so you will receive Trophies for reaching milestones such as 7 days of practice, or 50 days, 100 days, or even more. You will be awarded these Trophies whenever you reach those milestones, whether it takes 100 days or 150. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill – but they didn’t say you had to do those 10,000 hours all in one go!

Melodics Streaks
But for those dedicated Streakers, don’t worry, Streaks aren’t going anywhere.

You can still see your current Streak and your highest ever Streak right there in the progress screen where you have always been able to see it.

The calendar still keeps track of your sessions in Melodics so you can see how regularly you have been practicing. We still encourage trying to practice every day you can, because that’s the quickest way to improve.

However, for those that struggle to make time every day to practice on Melodics, losing a Streak can be a bit of a demotivator, so we want to include something in Melodics that celebrates all of the effort that you are still putting in.

“One night at midnight, I realised that I had forgotten to practice that day. I was so bummed that I didn’t practice for a month! Then I realized that while a streak is amazing, it’s more about putting in the work and enjoying the process. I quickly got back on track again.”

Gretchen King, My 300-day Streak

Any day of practice in Melodics is another step in your journey towards becoming the musician you dream of being, and Trophies are our way of recognising your progress.

Keep it up!

Sep 20

A conversation with Tristan from The Beths

by in Interviews, Pro Tips

When these particular Kiwis fly, they go far and wide! In the six fresh years of The Beths taking center-stage, they’ve racked up a loyal flock of fans, signed with an international label, toured locally and abroad, and created a storming impression within the burgeoning indie rock scene.

We spoke to the talented drummer of The Beths, Tristan Deck, about all things music in his world, including two new Melodics lessons for their hits, Jump Rope Gazer and Great No One.

Tristan’s eclectic music taste and his fused style of pop-punk and jazz drumming has added to The Beth’s unique alternative and indie sound. We got the inside scoop of what it means to be flying high during turbulent times. Here’s how The Beths remain focused, adaptable, and keep their engines revving despite the odds.

 

The Beths, left to right: Jonathan Pearce (Guitar), Elizabeth Stokes (Lead Vocal, Guitar), Ben Sinclair (Bass), Tristan Deck (Drums)
The Beths, left to right: Jon Pearce (Guitar), Liz Stokes (Lead Vocal, Guitar), Ben Sinclair (Bass), Tristan Deck (Drums)

 

How did you start playing drums with The Beths? What were you doing musically before joining the band?

I knew Liz and Ben through studying Jazz at Auckland University. I knew they’d started a band and the first time I heard The Beths play I fell in love with the music. I knew I wanted to be a part of it but was content to enjoy the band as a die hard fan. I was teaching drums and playing a lot of jazz and improvised music around Auckland. Jazz music remains a great love of mine, I love the drum language and the collaboration and spontaneity. I met Jon properly on tour with Aldous Harding and some touring work with The Beths needed to be filled. A dream come true! During that period in 2019 I became a full time member of the band.

 

What does it mean to you and the band to see songs by The Beths picked up and taught through a platform like Melodics?

I’m chuffed! The music I was listening to when I started learning drums was half what my parents played around the house and half whatever was on the radio. Back then NZ artists were featured at a higher proportion to overseas music on popular radio stations so I started practicing while listening to lots of music from Aotearoa without even realising it. I’m chuffed because I have a very high opinion of the quality of music being produced here and am stoked to be contributing to a scene I love!

 

 

Any pro tips for cracking the drum parts on Great No One and Jump Rope Gazers?



Great No One is so much fun to play. It’s fast and has lots of big anticipated offbeat hits. Listening to lots of pop punk will get your ears in the right place for the drumming language used in the drum part. Think of the drumming on the immortal album American Idiot by Green Day, Love & Disrespect by Elemeno P, or Attack on Memory by Cloud Nothings.

 



Jump Rope Gazers I try to play somewhere between these two extremes: Back in Black by AC/DC and Alvvays’s song Marry Me Archie. I try to take the intense respect Phil Rudd has for good old rock beat number one and combine that with something a little more dreamy and sensitive.

 

What impact has Covid had on the band’s plans over the last couple of years?

Massive! We’ve had to shift from a large amount of touring and playing to staying in NZ or at home in our bubbles. We’ve done internet live streams for single and album releases and done lots of playing together, learning and workshopping different songs. I miss touring but spending a good bit of time back in NZ is wonderful. Whenever I’m on tour I miss going to watch gigs, which inspires me and makes me want to play more! There are positives and negatives for both situations.

 

You recently announced a 2022 North America tour, what impact will Covid have on how the shows happen? Are there certain precautions you have to put in place at the shows?

The touring landscape has changed permanently since early 2020. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to travel and play and meet people. In balancing our desire to return to a touring world the overwhelming priority is keeping people safe and healthy. The wellness of gig goers is something we take very seriously and will not put at risk by playing shows before it is prudent to do so!

 

Do you have any rituals or habits that help keep you on top drumming form?
I try to pick up my sticks every day. I’m constantly drumming in my head and tapping ideas out on tables. I like building drum solos in my mind too – thinking about the things that I can play and arranging it in ways that sound interesting to me (and hopefully others!). It’s a great way to practise composition as well as being a memory exercise.

 

Any final tips for beginners or anyone thinking about playing drums?

Set realistic practice goals and focus on being regular with practice more so than the volume of practice. Make friends with as many other musicians as you can, it’s never too early in your drumming career to start playing music with others! 


Thanks Tristan!

Get a piece of the action. Grab and Melodics subscription and try Jump Rope Gazers and Great No One . Tag @melodicshq to let us know how you get on.

(PROTIP: jam out your own take using Playground Mode!)

Jun 15

Falling back in love with music

by in Melodics

Compare how it felt listening to music before you ever learned an instrument, to how it feels now. Different?

Personally, I’ve found that after learning about music, how I observed it entirely changed. When I was younger, enjoyment of music for me was essentially pure unabashed appreciation for what I heard — I didn’t think about why I might like it, I just knew whether I did or not. But now that I’m familiar with playing and composing music, I can’t help but engage with it more; deconstruct the song, analyse the musicianship, critically listen to the instrumentation or compare it to my own ability.

You see, experiencing music changes for people if or as their musical journey progresses. Sometimes it’s good to remember what it was like before — how fresh and exciting it all sounded — and just enjoy music again as innocently as with the ears of a child, unadulterated by knowledge.

If you’re feeling burnt out on learning, here are some suggestions of other ways to engage with music that don’t involve actually practicing or playing – that could help you tap back into the aspiration and grit needed to keep you on your musical trajectory.


Listen to music (just, really listen)

Engaging with recorded music increasingly reads as consumption, rather than something to do with pleasure or leisure, or invigorating our own creativity. Reconnecting with music as a source of nourishment and inspiration can help jaded learners fall back in love with music and stay in the game. Here are a few ideas for how you can recalibrate your relationship with music through the way you listen:

  • Practice active listening as much as you can. So often, listening to music is a passive activity – especially now that algorithms are so finessed at serving stuff up. Dial down the distractions, and give yourself a moment with some tasty tunes where you actually shut your eyes and hone in on the way a song’s been constructed: what’s really going on in there, and why does it make you feel so good – or not? Here are some suggestions of what to listen for, from Ableton.
  • Create a playlist of songs you’d love to play live, and close-listen to the tracks. Imagine how your body would need to move if you were playing along, on your instrument of choice. What would your breath be doing? Your muscles? How would you centre yourself and lock into the groove? Great performers inhabit their music, and vice versa – their instrument, and the sounds they make with it, seem to be an extension of them. A lot of that boils down to psychology and being fully in the zone, not necessarily playing in a way that’s technically perfect. So, go on, spend some time with music thinking about how it makes you feel, and how you’d create that same sort of energy if you were the one performing.
  • If you need a little more hand-holding than that, we’re here for you! Check out this playlist of tunes the Melodics team is listening to, over on Spotify.
  • How much does the way we listen affect the impact music has on us? Australian composer and sound artist Lawrence English is a firm proponent that listening to music is a creative act in and of itself. Catch his Loop 2018 talk on the topic here.

We’ve also put together some Guided Listening blog posts, to help you identify an area of interest, and really dive in. Explore them here.


Get to know your heroes

Listening to podcasts is a great way to absorb inspirational insights into the career trajectories of your musical heroes: hear war stories; find out how their songs were put together; demystify their enigma (or have it reinforced); and learn where different artists sit in the wider cultural landscape. These are some of our go-to’s, which never fail to get us psyched about playing music ourselves:

Questlove Supreme
    • Questlove Supreme is a fun, irreverent and educational weekly podcast that digs deep into the stories of musical legends and cultural icons in a way that only Questlove can deliver. Not your typical interview show, this is about legends and legends in the making bringing their legacy to life in their own words. Look out for eps with the likes of Q-Tip, Pharoahe Monch, Chaka Khan, Weird Al, Biz Markie, and Babyface.

Song Exploder
    • Song Exploder sees artists dissect one of their strongest songs over the course of an episode and, piece by piece, tell the story of how it was made. Isolating the individual tracks that comprise the final recording, host Hrishikesh Hirway asks artists to delve into the specific decisions that went into creating their hit. Over 200 episodes have been created so far, featuring the likes of The Roots, Yo-Yo Ma, Jon Hopkins, Fleetwood Mac, Billie Eilish, Metallica, FKA Twigs, Arlo Parks, and Robyn. Also clock the Netflix version.

Broken Records
    • Broken Record sees Rick Rubin, Malcolm Gladwell, and former New York Times editor Bruce Headlam take turns interviewing some of the biggest names in music. Rubin’s episodes are of particular note – hearing the legendary producer chew the fat with the likes of Brian Eno, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and David Byrne is pretty special stuff, and a great reminder of how magical music can make you feel.

Switched on Pop
    • Switched On Pop is a podcast about the making and meaning of popular music hosted by musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding, produced by Rock Ridge Productions, Vox Media Podcast Network and New York Magazine. The hosts chat with leading artists, songwriters and producers to break down hit pop tunes to figure out what gives them their x-factor, and the role cultural context plays.

What had happened was
    • What had happened was sees Open Mike Eagle sit down with legendary hip hop artists for an in-depth look at their life, impact, and legacy over the course of one season. Season one covers DJ Prince Paul (De La Soul, Handsome Boy Modeling School). Season two covers El-P (Company Flow, Run the Jewels).


Zoom out

There’s more to music than playing live! Developing your understanding of things like sound design, production and composition can help you to find the fire for music creation and performance again. Here are some great resources that take you behind-the-scenes of music making:

Sound design, production and composition tips
Music theory
Take a free online course

 

Want more? Check out this post on why people quit their instruments, and how you can avoid falling into the same trap.

Jun 10

Why I quit learning my instrument

by in Uncategorized

It’s one thing to decide to learn an instrument, it’s another to stick with the process until you’re skilled enough that you can play without thinking. There are plenty of reasons our enthusiasm can start to wane – and sometimes there are very real, practical reasons we put our instruments aside.

Here are some reasons we commonly hear from our users as to why they’re struggling to stay motivated. We’ve faced all of these personally too, so it’s important to feel that you’re not alone in this.

Combating these is the only real barrier to you shooting for the musical stars, staying on your learning journey, and above all having a fun and rewarding experience.

What holds us back?


I don’t have enough time

Life can get busy, and it’s easy to feel like learning music is a luxury – which quite often means it’s the first to drop off a person’s to-do list. But even five minutes per day can lead to progress. In fact, frequent chunks of deliberate practice can be more effective than infrequent but lengthy practice sessions.

Daily warm-ups, short exercises, practicing a small loop, or even attempting just the first step in a lesson are easy ways to dip into Melodics for quickfire sessions, regardless of how busy you are. It’s good to remember too that giving your creative self some time to flex can make for better energy and focus when juggling those real-life priorities.

If you’re struggling with time, but still want to keep up a consistent practice routine; check out our 7 quick things to practice in a lunchbreak.


I’m afraid of making mistakes

We get it, no one likes the sound of a bum note – and watching those little Melodics icons turn every colour but green can be a defeating feeling! But mistakes are a natural part of learning, no matter how long you’ve been playing or how much of a pro (or newbie) you are.

Continuing to challenge yourself in new ways is essential if you want to keep levelling up. Melodics’ live feedback function makes it easy, by highlighting the small adjustments that will help you hone your game.

Flipping the narrative so that you associate mistakes and challenges with growth – and address them rather than shrink away from them – will free you up to enjoy the learning process and stick with it.

Failure isn’t a thing at Melodics, rather, there’s an opportunity to identify areas to work on with laser-like accuracy, and help you reset and sharpen your approach. Knowing where you mistakes are is a blessing, so, embrace them, and consider them part of discovering a clear path to progress.

There’s no finish line in the learning journey and that’s a great thing.


I don’t know where to start

Self-directed learning can be a daunting process, especially if you’re used to learning from a human teacher. If you’re struggling to find a place to start within Melodics, try one of our courses.

Check out our Courses page, which features clearly themed groups of lessons based around related learning objectives, and focus on things like specific skills, iconic sounds, and basic theory.

Some favourites include the Major & Minor Triads course for keys, and the Building Up Drum Grooves course for pads (or for drummers here).

Taking it a step further, the Melodics Guided Path provides a curated walkthrough of some of our fundamental courses, ensuring you’ve built a solid foundation for pads, keys or drums for you to be more comfortable exploring by yourself afterwards.

For more tips on getting started with Melodics, have a read of this.


My practice sessions are inefficient and unproductive

Do you find you default to the familiar, and repeat the same activity every time you sit down to practice?

Making a plan beforehand and keeping a progress journal can help to keep you moving forward and maximising the time you have to devote to learning. Write a list of things you’d like to achieve within a certain timeframe, and keep notes about your progress, including any blocks. Spend some time focussing on addressing these – rather than skipping ahead before you’re ready just because it’s more fun in the short term.

If you find you keep getting distracted, make use of your ‘favourite’ button, which you can use to save lessons that appeal to you to a playlist. Come back to them later and you’ll dive in and engage with the task at hand with far less kerfuffle.


I spend too much time getting my environment ‘just right’, and run out of time to actually practice

The obvious answer to this one is to dedicate a spot in your home or office to music, and leave your gear set up just how you like it so that you can dip in for any length of practice time.

But let’s be honest: having a dedicated music-space isn’t possible for everyone!

So we suggest a simple shift of perspective: rather than feeling like you have to be totally in the zone to practice, occasionally allow yourself to think of practice as something to tick off the to-do list, like doing some exercise or having a shower. Sit down, plug in and play for however long you can – even if the room’s a mess, and the lighting isn’t quite right. You might find you end up in your flow state anyway 😉

We’ve designed Melodics so you can easily plug in and play, and we’re always working to remove any barriers (both in- or out-of-app) that might slow our users down – such as growing our ever-expanding list of supported instruments, releasing our app for iPad. Got any suggestions? Share it with us here.


I keep overcomplicating it

It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds when learning music; we get deep in the theory, and intellectualise something that should be feeding and feeding from our creative energy. Don’t get us wrong, theory is important – and learning the ‘rules’ of music can help free you up to play with, or break, them later on.

But if you’re finding your learning journey is getting a bit dry, letting yourself have a good old fashioned muck-around can help bring the joy back.

Make a playlist of tunes you love, and play along to them for the sheer joy of it –and don’t worry whether you’re doing it perfectly. Remember, music is supposed to be fun, and reminds you why you’ve picked up an instrument in the first place. Playing for fun keeps you in the game.


I love performing, but find it hard to motivate myself to practice

It’s easy to get caught up in the enigma of music and forget that, actually, the greatest performers work really hard to make it look easy when they’re on stage. If you take the time to practice you’ll be more confident and relaxed when performing, and your audiences will notice the difference. Sure, it’s way more fun enjoying the fruits of your labour, than doing the labour itself, but Melodics offers a sweet in-between: you get to practice by playing along with tunes you enjoy, and we’re adding new lessons all the time so it never gets boring.

For more on achieving your musical goals, check out this great piece on Habit Hacking.