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 03

How Flawed Freedom Found Her Flow

by in Interviews, Melodics

Ashley Simpson started off using Melodics with virtually no musical experience — yet now she’s realising her musical goals of live performances, producing and recording her own original compositions as the artist Flawed Freedom.

To ice the cake — Flawed Freedom’s debut album ‘Four Thirty’ has just launched.

Read on to start the journey from her beginning, and be sure to check out her new EP below.

Reflecting on her childhood in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Ashley Simpson, aka the finger-drummer and music producer Flawed Freedom’s fondest memories revolve around music. “I used to ride in the car with my mother and sister singing along to Deborah Cox, S.W.V or Xscape,” she recalls. “Thinking about music also makes me think about family barbecues; you already know we always had music going at those,” she continues to include NSNYC, Backstreet Boys and Motown Records. “I played sports as a child, and I really wanted to play drums and piano, but my mother couldn’t afford for me to do both, so that was that,” she says.


 

The #sogonechallenge

But years later, in 2018 Flawed Freedom chanced across a video clip that stopped her in her tracks: a short routine from the well-loved hip-hop producer and finger-drummer Beats By J Black.

“He’d flipped a sample from ‘So Gone’ by Monica and he was finger drumming it,” she remembers. “I just fell in love.” Blown away, she showed the video to her boyfriend and said, “I wish I could do this.” He replied with a simple, supportive question, “Why can’t you?”


 “Why can’t you?”

By this point, Flawed Freedom was no stranger to Youtube tutorials. She had purchased a midi keyboard and racked up a bit of digital audio workstation experience recording herself improvising in the Logic Pro program, but that was about the extent of it.

“I’d purchased a controller, and I wasn’t even sure how to map it correctly using Logic,” she admits. All of that changed when J Black’s youtube videos led her to an advert for Melodics.

“I was so intrigued by J Black, and the software had lessons from him in it … I wanted to do all of his lessons straight away, and I just clicked with it. I didn’t have to think about what kick to use or what snare … The plug and play functionality made it very easy.”


Finding Flow

With no real agenda or clear plan, Flawed Freedom made a point of trying to do something music-related every day. It’s a simple practice, and one that she still follows.

“I don’t think I had a particular goal in mind when I first picked up finger drumming, I just really liked music and wanted to learn how to flip samples. I was intrigued by the pads, triggering these pads, and the live performance aspect. I really would have never thought that I’d have a YouTube page or an Instagram, you know? It’s been such an interesting, unexpected journey.”

Once she was practising in Melodics regularly, Simpson gravitated towards lessons from STLNDRMS, OddKidOut, Jeremy Ellis, DiViNCiJeia and, of course, J Black. “I kept trying to be better, and it was really fun for me. It became such a de-stressor. If I was in a bad mood, I would finger drum. If I was happy, I would finger drum. So it just became part of my everyday life.”

“I think maybe the first or second day I practised for two hours or something,” she remembers. “I just could not stop playing. I really pride myself on my quality, and I wanted to get the three-star rating. I was not happy with one star; I wasn’t happy with two stars. I would just come right back to it. I’d be on there until my arms hurt.”

Daily practice taught Flawed Freedom about timing, hand independence and strength. “It all helped me get my fingers and arms to the strength I needed them to have,” she laughs. “I did not have that at first. I was struggling, but it was so fun.”

Session by session, the pure pleasure of that process helped Flawed Freedom unlock skills she’d never even dreamed of having. “I don’t want to overuse the word mind-blowing, but I continue to surprise myself and the people closest to me because I’ve just picked this up so quickly,” she reflects.

Practising those lessons also reinforced her thinking around the sound that she was dreaming up in her head. “I think I have a lo-fi hip-hop sound,” she explains, while also referencing her fandom for the dearly departed Crenshaw rapper/social motivator Nipsey Hussle and North Carolina rapper, producer and Dreamville record label owner J.Cole “I really like old school samples and that soulful sound. I think I’ll start to incorporate vocals into what I do soon, but really it’s hip-hop and trap with a soulful bent.”

One of the most powerful influences on Flawed Freedom in recent times is XXL Freshman Class 2020, Chika.

“I really respect the fact that she has bars and is such a great vocalist. Her recent album Industry Games was very impactful to me.”

flawed freedom - Ashley


 Gettin’ Gnarly

Once she started to feel comfortable in her skills, Flawed Freedom took a few crucial steps. First, she contacted the British Sri Lankan producer, live performer, DJ and educator Gnarly Music for some online music lessons. Gnarly assessed Flawed Freedom’s experience, explained some fundamentals to her, and set her up to play and record on Native Instruments Maschine hardware/software digital audio workstation.”

Reflecting on it now, she realises that she didn’t fully comprehend how much of a foundation Melodics had given her at the time.

“When I started taking lessons with Gnarly, she told me, ‘Wow, you’re picking this up pretty quick,’ there were some advanced hi-hats that she showed me. Gnarly said they took her however long to learn, and I was learning it in our third or fourth session. I’m almost certain that if it hadn’t been for Melodics, getting the basic timing of things down and learning how to work my hands differently, I wouldn’t have advanced so quickly with her.”


Giving practice purpose

After beginning her Maschine journey with Gnarly Beats, Flawed Freedom tackled the nerves that can come with sharing your music in public by opening an Instagram account and a Youtube Channel. She started uploading videos of her routines and improvised jams regularly and was quickly rewarded with warm praise and a sense of purpose.

“In my short experience, I’ve started to really understand the impact of what I’m doing,” she says. “At first, it was all about me, but now it’s about inspiring people. It’s about helping people with anxiety. It’s about showing little girls that it might be a male-dominated industry, but there’s still space for us here; just as much space. I don’t take it lightly.”

From there, Flawed Freedom cut back on her Melodics use while she was honing her recording and live performance skills in the studio. “I got a little gear and software crazy,” she laughs. “Now I use Maschine, Ableton and FL Studio.” Working away, she developed a beat-making practice she describes as a mixture of sampling and music theory. “It just kind of flows,” she continues. “Now it’s about feeling. Do my ears like this? I start a lot of my tracks with piano, and I really like mallets. I try not to overthink it and just do what feels good. If something doesn’t sound great, I’ll save it and come back to it later. I just want people to be moved.”

The future is bright

More recently, however, as she prepares to start releasing her recordings properly, Flawed Freedom has found herself returning to Melodics regularly again. “I’ve recently gone back and stuff that was so difficult back then, months ago, or however long, I can knock out now, no problem,” she enthuses. “I think that’s really cool just to see the progression and know that I really am putting in the time and the work to be better.”

This time around, she’s also found her relationship with the software shifting, reflecting: “At first, when I was doing Melodics, I was just focused on drums and timing”. Now what I take from Melodics is this. If I do a lesson on finger independence and I don’t do that well, I know that’s something I really need to work on. So whether it’s in Melodics, or outside of Melodics, I’m doing things to try and work on my finger independence or my hand independence.”

Moving forward, aside from releasing music, Flawed Freedom has dreams of opening her own online beat store to sell instrumentals to vocalists and rappers. After the pandemic is under control, she hopes to start performing live and pay it forward by teaching finger drumming and production to eager students. And when the time comes, she knows what she’ll say to them:

“Don’t take it too seriously, don’t stress yourself out, and have a good time. Be consistent — and that doesn’t mean you have to set a confined schedule of what you’re going to do — but just consistently work on your craft. Make sure you’re true to yourself. Everyone has opinions. Everybody has feedback, and that’s nice, but do what makes you happy. Make the music that you want to make and be consistent. Be true to yourself, and you can’t go wrong.”

Hopefully, as Flawed Freedom’s profile rises, she’ll continue to communicate these messages to others for years to come.


Four Thirty - EP by Flawed Freedom
Four Thirty – Flawed Freedom – the debut EP

Purchasing her first home on 20th April 2021, and with a tumultuous 2020 in hindsight, Flawed Freedom has now entered a transformational period of her life, coinciding with releasing her first EP ‘Four Thirty.’

For her, “April 30th signifies a new beginning” — a fitting symbol of the rapid metamorphosis from the musically-untrained Ashley Simpson, to the finger drummer and producer Flawed Freedom.

With that beginning, I’ve released fear and doubt and shared my very first EP. Four Thirty is a blend of soul, funk, and hip-hop and it’s my hope that it relaxes folks as well as makes you want to move.

May 27

It’s never too late to start

by in Melodics

Here at Melodics, we believe it’s never too late to get started on the journey of learning music. We also know that when you start learning music later in life, it’s easy to feel discouraged by what you need to catch up on or frustrated with your progress.

Today, we’re sharing a story with you about someone who came to music later in life, pushed through discouragement, and changed the sound of popular music.

“There are some very happy people who top out playing in the lobby at holiday inns. But the they’re playing music, and they’re happy… So it’s supposed to make you happy. Don’t value your gift according to where you fall on the scale of ‘commercial’, ‘professionalism’: enjoy it! If you can lock yourself up in your closet and just groove, don’t cheat yourself out of that!.”

— Bill Withers

When the great American soul man Bill Withers released his signature song ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ in 1971, he was an unknown 31-year-old singer-songwriter and musician who worked a nine-to-five job assembling toilets for an aircraft parts company in Southern California. That year, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ ascended into the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart before becoming the first of three gold records in the US for Bill.

Even as his star rose, Bill initially refused to give up his day job, to the extent where the cover of his debut album, Just As I Am, was shot at his workplace on a lunch break. As ‘Ain’t No Sunshine was followed by ‘Grandma’s Hands’ and ‘Lean On me’, Bill became a ubiquitous star within the great pantheon of American music. Seemingly overnight, he was the toast of the country.

In reality, Bill was anything but an overnight success, and actually, coming to music later in life became a source of strength for him. By the time he bought his first guitar in his late 20s, Bill had spent just under a decade serving with the United States Navy. He left school at 17 because of a chronic stutter which left him withdrawn and socially disconnected. In the navy, Bill received speech therapy, which built his self-confidence.

Growing up as an outsider gave him a sharp observational eye, and coming to music at an older age gave him time to think about what really needed to be said in songs. In 1967, he garnered his first opportunity to show off his skills through releasing a single titled ‘Three Nights And A Morning’ through the New York-based Lotus label. Although the single was produced and arranged by the great Mort Garson, it sank without a trace at the time.

Undeterred, Bill continued performing in nightclubs around Los Angeles, writing songs and recording demo tapes with money earned from daytime assembly jobs at IBM, Ford and Douglas Aircraft Corporation.  In 1970, Clarence Avant, the owner of Sussex Records, heard one of Bill’s tapes and signed him up for the first of three albums through the label, Just As I Am (crediting none other than greats Stephen Stills, Booker T Jones, Jim Keltner, Al Jackson Jr., Bobbye Porter in musical personnel).

‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ turned nostalgia for something that was hurting you into a top ten hit, and ‘Grandma’s Hands’ and ‘Lean On Me’ placed affection for family and friends on an equal footing to romantic love. Song by song, Bill drew from his life experience and observations to establish a new emotional vocabulary for popular American music. If he had started writing music earlier or hadn’t had challenges to overcome first, Bill wouldn’t have had as deep a wellspring to draw from as a songwriter and musician.

The story of the first stage of his career is a telling reminder that it’s never too late to start pursuing something you love, and actually, if you’re willing to work at it, starting later can be a deep and enduring source of strength.

Bill Withers left the public eye just as he arrived: quickly, and on his own terms. “The business came to me in my 30s. I was socialised as a regular guy. I never felt like I owned it or it owned me… When somebody asks ‘what have you been doing?’ the answer is ‘living’,” he reflected in 2003. “I have no bitterness. I just live and whatever happens, happens.”

“So if you feel like you have the gift, and you want to find out. Make yourself available, and the world will let you know”

— Bill Withers

May 11

7 things to do in Melodics on your lunchbreak

by in Melodics, Music

What’s our most precious resource and something you can only spend once?

If you didn’t guess already, the answer is time. It’s rather ironic, that given its fleeting nature, we still tend to spend our time quite casually…

lack-of-time, however, is the #1 reason people give for abandoning their dreams of learning or mastering an instrument. And yet time is the one thing guaranteed it will take to get there!

In reality though, life is filled with plenty of high-priority things — so in our quest for finding that perfect balance, we say that even 5 minutes of music every now and again is better than never at all.

So in the spirit of prime numbers, here’s 7 things the time impaired can do in Melodics that’ll fit in and around just about any other life commitments, ready any time you find yourself with a spare moment or three.

 


 

1. Do a quick session with one of our Daily Warmups or workout exercises.

 

“Melodics

The point of these isn’t about learning anything specific, or playing the notes right as you’re not playing a whole lesson or course. The main thing here is that you’re using your brain differently than you do at other points of your daily life.

You’re limbering up, building your muscle memory and dexterity. You’re just passively getting used to being confident on your instrument, and importantly: you can stop doing a warmup just as easily as it is to start one: whenever you feel like it.
 
Sure, I’ll do something light.
 


 

2. Sneak through a lesson you find difficult!

 

“Playing

It sounds counter-intuitive, but playing a lesson a few grades too hard for you means that your expectations really aren’t going to have you beating yourself up about the inevitable score! Even for seemingly impossibly fast songs, you can slow the track down using Practice Mode to a point where it’s playable.

So what’s the point of this then?

It’s amazing how much simply getting the lay of the land helps set a benchmark for future attempts and how you improve with time. You don’t even have to complete a lesson to benefit from this.

Use the filter settings to search by lesson grade, and pick something a couple of grades higher than where you’d comfortably sit. Give it a quick crack!
 
Umm give me the tough stuff.
 


 

3. Jam over a track on a lesson you’ve nearly or recently completed.

 

Finding Melodics Playground Mode

Look for the unlocked Playground Mode icon on any lesson’s completion screen.

Heaps of musicians record themselves jamming, or free-playing over their compositions to get creative, listen back and evaluate their playing, or to find some sweet-sounding gems they might save for a rainy day.

So mix it up! Don’t feel that using Melodics is all about practise, learning or getting feedback on your ability. It’s really important to just be playing music for the sheer joy of it — and prove to yourself and no-one else that you’ve got a couple of tricks in the bag.

Playground Mode is the perfect way to remove all script, structure and rules and just play whatever you feel like. And the cool thing is you can record and listen back to your last attempt.

You unlock this mode on any lesson you’ve already passed (i.e. getting 1-star or more on it),  so check it out!

 
Jam my last sessions butter.
 


 

4. Shooting 3’s.

 

“Revisit

It’s easy to get caught up in doing something new — but what about those lessons you probably did ages ago and passed? We’re not A+ passed — we mean the stuff you might’ve just scraped by on… But we bet you’d totally smash them out of the park if you tried them again now.

Go on, let’s put a bow on some of those 1- or 2-star lessons with a 3-star performance (or… more?), and show us all that progress you’ve made!

Use the search filter to browse by 1- or 2- stars to find a good lesson.

 
Shooting 3’s.
 


 

5. Make a mix tape.

 

“Make

Remember when you’d spend hours agonising over creating that perfect compilation? Choosing songs to fit on 23-minutes a side, whilst perfectly capturing every nuance of your personality, every agonizing detail of your teenage complexity?

Yeah, na, me neither. These days it’s done in a heartbeat on Spotify anyway. And you can do this in Melodics too: just think of the favourites button as a hot-key for your personal Top 25 (PRO TIP: it doesn’t have to be at your normal workstation, you could even download the Melodics iPad app and make a playlist from anywhere you feel like!)

So one of the best ways you can make your practices faster and more productive is removing the obstacles and being prepared!

Do yourself a favour, and pick some favourites now for practising another time!

 
Create the ultimate session playlist
 


 

6. Baby steps, not marathons.

 

“Just

Lessons and courses are all divided up into component steps.

Not only is it not required for you to complete the lot in one sitting, rather, it’s often better to just stop after the first step, and come back to continue or redo the rest at a later date. Think of it less like a marathon, and more of an enjoyable hike — you’ll still end up going the same distance either way. And hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day…

That’s right, we’re telling you not to finish a lesson — just do the first step.

Spreading lessons out over time helps build habits better — it reinforces repeated behaviour with multi-session structure, rather than 1-offs, doesn’t overload your brain or drain you of energy, and above all bite-sized pieces makes the prospect of success easier to achieve and less labourious.

 
One… small… step for man…
 


 

7. Unplug the friction!

Hands up if when you think about practising, you tend to focus on the effort of setting up instead: clearing off your desk, opening up the app, plugging your instrument in and turning it on, thinking about what genre you want to play, scrolling through and previewing endless lessons? It’s a motivation killer! Remember what we said about 5 minutes every now and then is better than never at all? Let’s make sure then that it’s time well spent: fun, simple and effective.

So here’s something different: you can still play in Melodics without even plugging an instrument in! Regardless of whether you play keys, pads or drums, or what your favourite genre is: rhythm, timing, and dexterity are universal traits foundational to musical confidence (so it’s not just ‘ok’ to try play a different instrument or genre when you’re practising — it’s great for you!)

1) Open up the Melodics app;

2) Choose any simple and easy lesson (tip: browse by low grade), and;

3) Use your laptop’s keyboard or the onscreen UI if you’re on iPad.

 

Here’s some handpicked lessons you can do on a computer keyboard or iPad UI:

 

 

May 05

Habit Hacking

by in Melodics, Pro Tips

It’s show of hands time!
  • Playing any of the instrument-parts from one of your own musical compositions;
  • Recording tracks in a realistic, less robotic fashion than you would from “drawing” the notes in a DAW’s piano roll;
  • Be a confident player in performances or live shows;
  • Be able to sit down at a keyboard, pads or drum kit and play a beat or progression like you hear in your head;
  • Learn a new instrument, and play it good simply for the sheer joy of it!

Do any of these resonate with you personally?

Learning anything, especially an instrument, requires plenty of dedication. Not everyone is prepared for this, and can at times find themselves overwhelmed. If this sounds like you, we’re here to say: don’t give up! This article is here to show a path that can help you progress towards any goals you have. How? By rewiring your habits.

Habits present a way to demystify how some people are seemingly on an effortless trajectory for success. Though there is always a degree of effort required (regardless of how apparent it may seem), luck certainly doesn’t factor much, if at all.

There is a lot of info in this article, but if you take the time to think on what you’ll learn in these 5 steps from time to time, you’ll be able to translate any aspirations you might have into habits: the actionable, bite-sized steps you can use to achieve success.

Think of your own personal goals as you read this too. It’d be interesting to note if how you define them changes!

 

Glossary:


STEP 1: Defining your idea of success

 

Having a broad aspiration is great! After all, you can’t improve without challenge. But it’s at each step within the process of reaching that ultimate outcome where you should define multiple successes.

Why? Aspirations as goals are inherently lofty  — they’re not dreams, because there is a real chance of you achieving them. But depending on how complex or ambitious your goals are, it can be difficult to see a potential path towards actually achieving them — so instead, the route you do end up taking is often met with frustration, feeling overwhelmed, or simply not making the progress you want. Treating aspirations as dreams is not a path to success.

 

Define success by your habits, not by your goals.

Defining your concept of “success” solely by an end goal isn’t necessarily an effective way to make good progress. It may even set you up for avoidable disappointment. To summarise Tony Robbins (love him or hate him), “that’s trying to eat the whale whole, without taking smaller bites”.

Instead, consider your system of habits: the required process as a whole of how to actually get to your end goal.

As an example, your end goal might be focusing on buying your dream instrument — so one chunk of that system of habits might be setting aside some of every pay cheque to start saving. A second habit in the system might be ensuring you don’t spend those savings elsewhere in the meantime!

“You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”

— James Clear

 


STEP 2: How are Habits Formed?

 

This step is aimed at deepening your background understanding of habits and what makes them a recurring system: how they work, form or are broken. Let’s drill down.

“You are what you repeatedly do”

— James Clear

As animals we’re sort of wired in a constant pursuit of feeling rewarded.  This behaviour not only satisfies us and satiates cravings; it evaluates which actions best satiate these cravings, so we can learn and repeat them. This is a 4-step perpetual cycle of learning we call the Habit Loop.

 

The 4-Step Habit Loop:

 

The 4-Step habit loop: Cue, craving, response, and reward
The cue
    • Which emotion, bit of information or sense triggers you to go on to engage in a behaviour which will resolve the cue and make you feel rewarded?
    • This could be something primal such as thirst, hunger, cleanliness; or more psychologically complex like dissatisfaction or boredom

 

The craving
    • Cravings are the motivational impetus behind habits. They impart a desire to change whatever has triggered you: How do you wish to feel or be rewarded?
    • A classic example is looking at the motivation behind cleaning your teeth: you’re likely motivated by craving fresh breath and oral hygiene; not the act of cleaning your teeth itself!

 

The response
    • The response is your action — your habit itself per se. How do you respond to a craving?
    • During this stage you might consider several different potential actions, evaluate the pros & cons; the friction involved in doing each option, and your ability to ultimately execute them. What is your motivation to respond?
    • An example might be when you’re cued by boredom, your craving is entertainment, and your chosen response is to browse social media.

 

The reward
    • Reward is satiating your prior feeling of craving, but also your subconscious moment of reflection. Every time you’re rewarded, your brain reviews and evaluates how effective your response was at addressing your craving and feeds back into the habit loop for next time.
    • Continuing on from the previous example, the entertainment of checking social media can start to become associated with a means to resolve boredom, depending on how effective the reward was — but do you start to become bored with it as a means of entertainment after a while?

 

How are habits broken?

 

Habits break just as they are formed! Successfully-formed habits have an obvious cue, an attractive craving, an easy-to-do response, and a sufficiently fulfilling reward.

Your brain is constantly weighing up the benefit at each stage: evaluating friction and motivation, urgency or ability to respond against the ultimate reward.

If a habit loop can only occur if all 4-stages of the criteria are successful, then breaking the cycle and preventing habits could be done in theory as simply as removing or reducing one or more stages:

    • Remove the cue if possible (the habit will never be triggered);
    • Minimise the craving or make it unattractive (you’ll be less inclined to respond);
    • Make the response itself problematic or arduous (there’s too much friction or you won’t be able to do it);
    • Make the end reward dissatisfying (engaging in the habit wasn’t worth the effort).

 

Creatures of habit

This episode of Hidden Brain is a fun little podcast that might give you some good tips on behaviour! Here, guest psychologist Wendy Wood shares some of her research into habits; how to build good ones (and break the bad ones.) As an anecdote, she would actually sleep in her running clothes to reduce the friction of going for a run. Go figure…

“So there was a study that is quite amazing, I think – but it has been replicated a couple of times – on how far people travel to the gym. If people travel about 3 1/2 miles, then they are likely to go to the gym five times a month on average. If people travel 5 miles, then they’re likely to go only once a month on average…

The 5 miles presents friction. The 3.5 miles is much less friction and makes the behaviour more likely.”

— Wendy Wood


STEP 3: Tips for Hacking the Habit Loop.

 

So now you know about the habit loop, why you have certain habits, and how they’re broken — you might be considering your current goals, and how you could begin to harness knowledge of habits to create a different version of yourself.

Whilst the urge to enact sweeping, profound life-changes is natural, often it’s far more effective to alter existing habits incrementally, than it is remove or form completely new ones. Use the 4-stage loop of your current habits to your advantage!

“Small adjustments make a massive difference to your life”

— James Clear

If you use habits to make tiny 1% improvements to one small thing on a daily or recurring basis — over the course of weeks, months and years, you end up being multiple times better than where you started. No matter how small, every 1% change is a success, and something to acknowledge or celebrate.

Habits also present a small chunk of changeable behaviour — but beware the temptation to “over chunk” and become overwhelmed by the minutiae of steps involved in enacting change.

Here’s some easy tips on slightly altering an existing habit’s cue, craving, response or reward, to make change and progress easy and achievable. You don’t have to do all of them, you can start as small as just picking one:

 

TIP #1: Make the cue obvious
  • “Habit Stack” by attaching a new habit to an existing habit or routine you already have. Find yourself an obvious cue.
    • e.g. Your daily after-dinner dishes: stack a small 10 minute practice session as part of your post-dinner cue or routine.

 

TIP #2: Make the craving attractive
  • “Temptation bundling” associate the action of a new habit to a craving of a reward you know you love, so to prevent it feeling like punishment.
    • e.g. You might love a daily wind-down beverage. You can bundle the temptation of a relaxing drink with completing your 10 minute practice session goal.

 

TIP #3: Make the response easy
  • Remove as much friction as possible, to make your new habit as easy as possible to do.
    • e.g. leave your practice gear out and ready to go, so you don’t have to spend time setting up right before hand.
    • Pre-plan your practices before so you hit the ground running when you start.
  • Don’t set your goals too high (remember the “1% change” or “2 minute” rule)
    • If you do better than your target, that’s awesome, but the main path to success is getting the obstacle low enough for you to easily climb over and change without struggling with motivation.
    • e.g. “Instead of practising for an hour, I’ll just practice for 5 minutes.”

 

TIP #4: Make the reward satisfying
  • You’ve already bundled your temptations, so you best make sure you reward yourself!
  • Another effective technique is to tie your reward back to your cue. Use reinforcements that also help remind you to act, motivate to continue, and provide immediate satisfaction for keeping up your new habit.
    • A common tool is maintaining a habit tracker or checklist, a blog, post or video diary, or using your Melodics Daily Streaks as a reminder. e.g. When you visually see your accomplishments, you’ll be motivated to continue acting in the same manner.

 

TIP #5: What to do when you fall off!

“Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.”

— James Clear

No-one is too big to recover. Musician and Melodics user Gretchen King perhaps describes it best from her own experience in falling off the wagon after having practiced for 300 consecutive days:

“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 realised 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, musician

Habits aren’t all-or-nothing: habits certainly change, evolve or lapse with time, so don’t stress it too much if you can’t keep it up consistently. You can absolutely recover if and when a routine breaks down; if you can’t get back on the horse and continue from where you left off, re-evaluate your purpose and set new 1% goals to get back to where you want to be.


STEP 4: Start tracking your habits!

 

Ready to transform your own musical habits? Here’s a handy exercise to go through of everything covered in this article:

  • What’s your “big” goal?
  • What smaller successes build up to the big picture?
  • What frequent habits do you need to reach each success?
  • For each habit, what is your obvious cue, attractive craving, simple response and satisfying reward?

 

If you’re dedicated to updating your habits and working towards meaningful, personal success, consider what your responses to this exercise would be, and use your answers to set yourself daily or weekly goals in an obvious way.


STEP 5: Doing something with your Habits.

 

By changing your habits to be what you actively want them to be, you’ll find your own identity starting to evolve as well.

It’s a subtle distinction that might even sound obvious. But realising that clear personal identity helps you identify as part of a select community or a tribe; where you have the mandate to do all that other stuff you’d be expected to do. Stuff which also helps you on your way to reaching your goals. Is your goal to run a marathon? Great! You’re part of a tribe of “runners.” Is your goal to “be able to play the keyboard part all yourself from one of your own musical compositions?” Then your identity could be “I’m a keyboardist.”

 

Why join the tribe?

Nothing fosters motivation like belonging to the tribe does. Having fun together helps, but social reinforcement and obligations doubly so! If your personal goal is transformed into one shared by a group, your identity becomes linked to those around you, and you all work together to support and sustain each other’s identity. Development and progress is no longer your individual pursuit. Now it’s: We are musicians. We are a band.

“Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world.”

— Dave Grohl, putting it sincerely.

 

There’s a tribe waiting for you:

You like playing music live? Join a local band, association or attend open mic nights or just support the community and watch their live shows.

More into producing? Collaborate with like minded musicians check out Kompoz or the myriad of Music Producers sub-Reddits.

Into training your way into tip top playing condition? Join the club! Melodics Slack or Melodics Facebook Community


Acknowledgements:

Melodics derives a lot of inspiration from the teachings of James Clear, both in how we’ve developed our music education app and the design of our curriculum, but also in how we conduct our every day lives as musicians — and hence the advice written in this article (it’s littered with his quotes!). We’d say that if you’re serious, his book ‘Atomic Habits’ is a must-read; and his blog provides some fabulous insights into the science of habit, motivation and productivity, decision-making and creativity.

Apr 28

Product Updates: April 2021

by in Melodics

It’s been a busy and productive 12-or-so months for Melodics. In addition to some major milestone product feature launches, we’ve also really expanded our curriculum at all skill levels: producing and releasing over 200 new lessons (there’s over 1300 total in the full version of the app now), expanded to include 8 more genres (52 total and counting, from ‘Afro Cuban’ to ‘Vapourwave’), and have significantly bulked up our Guided Paths for aspiring musicians in each of our 3 instrument types. 

Beyond producing and releasing more musical content, the last year’s product developments were grounded on the following points:

  • It’s important for growing musicians to feel their burgeoning sense of musical ability as they progress.
  • They will also need the tools to define, measure and track their musical progress throughout their journey on their own, and in a way that makes sense to them and others.
  • Remove barriers to reaching a state of euphoric musical “flow”, make sure students are getting good feedback, rewarded, feel motivated when they succeed, and give them the tools they need to build up to perfection with greater autonomy.

 

Here’s the product releases which came from that:


Getting the full experience — whenever, wherever inspiration strikes. (Re)Introducing Melodics for iPad.

 

Our first major release of the year: In April 2021, Melodics went Mobile (again)!

We know how useful a spontaneous, ergonomic, portable (yet powerful) device like the iPad is for musicians wanting to play or practice with as little hassle as possible.  Going mobile is a great way of breaking down barriers that might otherwise prevent you from getting into and enjoying making music ASAP.

We actually have had an early-access iPad app since early 2020. And yet, we were prevented from updating it with all the new features available in the Desktop versions of Melodics since May 2020(!) — that is, until we could incorporate In-App Purchases (IAP).

We want Melodics users to have the same experience anywhere: from their desktop, laptop to iPad — so IAP was developed to appease the powers-that-be and get our iPad up and running once again. 

We’re proud to say, that day has come: all Melodics customers can use their existing credentials and subscription to get the full Melodics experience on their iPad for a smoother music workflow and to play music whenever the mood strikes.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE iPAD RELAUNCH

Practice anytime, anywhere inspiration strikes
Practice anytime, anywhere inspiration strikes


Practice deliberately and improve better, faster. Upgrading Practice Mode.

 

Deliberate Practice is a big part of how Melodics works to support musicians build good practice habits. Practice Mode is one manifestation of that ethos, and regardless one of our most widely beneficial features (second only to, probably, live feedback).

This is no real wonder — zooming in with focus, chunking, and starting slow before building up are highly effective Deliberate Practice techniques musicians have used to master difficult passages, error free, for 300,000 years long before 1993 (when the term was coined).

Upgrading Practice Mode was broken up into 3 projects:
  • “Slow it Down” (time stretching ability whilst maintaining the pitch of the original track); 
  • “Zoom in with Focus” (snapped loops, and ensuring a minimum 1-bar duration); 
  • “Review and Repeat” (presenting users with ‘listen back’, ‘practice’ or ‘perform again’ options; encouraging active listening and critique of performances, and with only 1-click, users can return back to redo sections without having to find or reset loops).

Over 25% of our users now use Practice Mode multiple-times every single session — and it’s in this group of methodically-minded musicians where we see the greatest rate of skill improvement and musical progress.

If you’re looking to make your practice sessions more productive, or nail those seemingly-impossible musical pieces; then look no further:

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PRACTICE MODE


Feel and measure your musical progress. Introducing Step- and Course-end Commentaries.

We thought it might be nice if we better expressed key “learning outcomes” for all our musical content. So we did: course end-screen summaries are now updated with an explanation of what it is exactly you’ve learned.

We also tweaked our step-end commentaries based on the previous performance. Whether it was just “Nice improvement”, “You’re getting ahead of the beat. Take it easy” musicians using Melodics receive more dynamic messaging and feedback tailored to how they’re performing, as they’re learning; and what they could do to improve for the next try.

 

Course End - Product Updates Apr 2021
Learning-by-doing is grand and all… but it’s nice to have a commentary on what-on-earth I’ve just done…


Don’t just play it til you get it right. Play it til you can’t get it wrong. Introducing Memory Mode.

Not being able to feel one’s progress is a major systemic reason why people have tended to quit learning their instrument within their first year of trying in traditional education models.

Launched in 2020, Memory Mode is at its core a feature designed to help musicians truly feel a sense of their own progress: could you play it blindfolded?

Memory Mode can only be unlocked if a user first gets three platinum stars — a flawless delivery in the final step of a lesson (which in itself is a great way to feel progress). When playing through the lesson once again but with the feature enabled, the screen progressively dims to darkness until it remains blacked-out completely (so long as you keep playing the notes perfectly without error).

“I think there is a narrative that Memory Mode pushes you towards your learning edge, encouraging you to internalise the lesson rather than rely on reactions.

 

Like a rehearsal, you might have the chord chart in front of you, but the need to check it becomes less and less as you start to truly learn the song. As a musician, you might instead begin to start thinking more about what’s coming up much further ahead in a song, or about how you’re playing. I think Memory Mode helps to emulate this scenario.”

 

– Benjamin Locke (Head of Music @ Melodics)

Perfecting a lesson in Memory Mode earns the user three black-out stars, and currently sits as the highest achievement — a “holy grail” of musical ability — in the Melodics award tiers. Most importantly, this feature challenges musicians to progress outside the comfort of the normal live-feedback, visual mechanics of Melodics, and instead showcase their true independent mastery in playing a song by ear. It’s no easy feat, but all the more worth it for when you do get there.


Give your practice purpose: track and measure your progress. Introducing Record collections.

All too often, we learn to place an inflated importance on musical theory; using words, definitions, logic and reasoning as some missing “key” to “unlocking” music. In the process perhaps we forget that for like 95% of human history, making music is, at its core, a kinaesthetic endeavour; a combination of physical and aural skill, memory and sensations. Theory as a science is the relatively new kid in town..

It does have an important place in music, but it shouldn’t be a barrier to you becoming a confident musician in your own right. If it did, we wouldn’t have The Beatles, M.I.A or J Dilla (to name a few) around to enjoy.

So anyway, in December 2020 Melodics unveiled its latest major release: Record collections. Records document a new bit of musical information you’ve learned by passing a particular lesson (e.g. technique, theory, method etc) — and summarises the concept through video and an explanation in the app.

On one hand, these reinforce our chicken-egg approach that theory (probably) stems from music, not visa-versa; but also acts to supplement Melodics’ unabashedly self-guided, learning-by-doing approach to learning music or an instrument.

Your collection showcases that you are, indeed, learning real-life, important musical things as you work your way through Melodics; it helps you track and measure your progress in accepted musical terminology, whilst also alleviating any feeling of intimidation or perceived elitism which can sometimes prevent one from learning musical theory. When collecting Records, you still have an active relationship with music, but now you can better define what it is you’ve learned, as you learn.

As an aside, a byproduct from Records’ development is that users can watch embedded Melodics produced video content basically anywhere in the app itself  — a cool platform to mull over future possibilities. Stay posted!

 

LEARN ABOUT RECORDS


Where to next? 2021 and beyond!

We at Melodics are continuing our efforts towards helping musicians consciously and easily reaching a state of “flow”, and helping them get more out of each practice session. Whether this is building on Records’ videos more; releasing more content and helping Melodics users find the right lesson at the right time; or doubling down on improving the plug & play platform we’ve built — you’ll just have to wait…

Melodics also would like to increase its commitment outside of strictly “the App” — that is to help support inclusion and equity in our diverse community, our industry (both music & technology), and our workplace both locally in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. More on that, as well, coming real soon.

But with this year in hindsight, we’re humbled by our incredible privilege to be where we are. We do hope Melodics users aren’t just having more fun playing music they really enjoy, but have a higher sense of achievement, feel increasingly empowered to take control of their own skill development, musical progress, and goals, and to go out and contribute positively to the world. What we’ve all done to date really is just the tip of the iceberg!

Happy music-ing.

Apr 01

Behind The Scenes Of A Melodics Lesson With Jeremy Toy

by in Interviews, Melodics

James Gadson has been the key drummer for every style of music you can think of since the ‘60s, with a playing style that above all else focuses on groove and musicality. He’s the perfect person to build a series of drum lessons around. 

Much like Gadson, talented New Zealand musician Jeremy Toy has long been a chameleon whose impressive work covers multiple genres, including punk, jazz, soul and hip-hop. Who better to distill Gadson’s work into a Melodics Course

Toy’s detailed understanding of what makes a James Gadson beat so unique was the starting point for creating the lessons in the course. In order to condense something as subtle as Gadson’s playing style into easily digestible lessons, Toy decided to deconstruct some of the classic tracks he played on in order to understand them. First he broke them down into separate pieces before putting them back together in his own way.

Toy took a methodical approach of converting Gadson’s drum loops into MIDI in Ableton, and then triggering his own drum sounds with that MIDI. Reprogramming his drums as best as he could, Toy essentially created his own virtual James Gadson. Converting these loops into a visual format on a grid allowed Toy to better analyse Gadson’s style and extract the groove from each clip. 

“To me the number one thing with James Gadson is the feel,” Toy tells Melodics. Creating a more tactile version of this vague idea meant Toy could find common themes in Gadson’s playing to incorporate into the lessons 

Although groove and feel by nature involves tempo being inconsistent or wavering, Toy began to notice exactly how Gadson manipulates his timing – specifically by keeping the swing of his hi-hats consistent, while the kick drum stays solid and on beat. “That actually happened quite a lot,” says Toy. “The more I analysed it I thought ‘this is actually a thing.’” After confirming in a scientific way that groove and feel is Gadson’s secret sauce, Toy went about making it a core part of the lessons.

While the starting point for understanding Gadson’s drumming at a molecular level is based on a sort of science, make no mistake these lessons are made by real musicians with aspiring musicians in mind. With the analysis done Toy, who helped write this, this and this, wrote and recorded the backing tracks you hear in the lesson. These backing tracks were then performed on by Gadson himself at Stones Throw studios, the recordings then condensed into the final product which is the lesson. 

Teaching groove is a challenging prospect as it’s fundamentally based on playing something not quite right – but still in a way that sounds good. It’s a skill generally seen as something that you just have or something that you very slowly build up over time without intending to. With the Gadson lessons Melodics are making this skill something that users can actually learn and track their progress on, which is rare for feel.

Transferring Gadson’s groove into the visual and dynamic Melodics format, Toy landed on a kind of galaxy brain idea of averaging out or condensing Gadson’s groove from each recorded track into a short loop which is then duplicated for the duration of each lesson. If the lesson was to try replicate Gadson’s moving groove exactly across an entire track not looped, it would be too hard for anyone including Gadson himself to consistently achieve and build on. With a shorter looped groove there is some consistency to the inconsistency, providing attainable learning outcomes. When users play along and attempt to hit the drums in time with the lesson, they are essentially playing with Gadson’s groove which is a little out of time, yet still playing in time with the lesson.

“It needs to be quantised in some way, to make it performable and gradable and markable and achievable,” says Toy, “so you end up quantising with feel, James Gadson’s lessons’ which is almost a no no”. In this case it’s not a no no, it’s very deep and the reason you can be funky.

The other core aspect of Gadson’s playing that Toy tried to incorporate into the lesson was again a fairly subjective idea of how Gadson’s style is essentially fun, or more that playing in his style is about playing with people. Toy remembers the story he heard from percussionist Lucky Paul who has worked with Gadson. “He jammed with James Gadson a few times and he said it’s not what he plays but it’s how he makes you feel when you jam with him. As a drummer, he backs you up. He makes you feel like a million bucks.” 

With this in mind, Toy tried to make the backing tracks and the lesson in a way where the drums feel “like you’re playing in the track”. At times the drum rhythms mirror the other instruments on the track, while other moments are juxtaposed to give the feel of jamming with a band rather than playing a repetitive beat. The drums are intertwined with the backing track as much as possible to make the user feel more like they are immersed in the track than practising a beat. 

Another aspect of Gadson’s style that Toy appreciates is his touch and how he’s able to vary the way he hits each drum – something that is perhaps a challenge for another day for Toy and Melodics. “You can’t represent everything in his playing, but we have to represent what we could which is the feel of the rhythm. There’s the foundation.”

Dec 18

The Melodics Way

by in Melodics

People come first

  • Be human
  • Build strong relationships
  • Clear the path for each other

Perfection through iteration

  • Experiment with intention
  • Keep it lean
  • Flow

Leave things better than we found them

  • Enable and empower
  • Have an impact
  • Outcome over input

There comes a time for every company when you need to get things written down. In the early days, when you can all sit around one table for lunch together, you can talk about what’s important to you. You demonstrate it, over and over, through your actions. In some cases, your actions aren’t completely aligned with your values, but you talk about why the thing you just did isn’t ideal, and how you’d like to do it better. A small team, all working together on everything, in one room – it’s easy to stay in sync.

But then you get a little bigger. You start to bring in new people who weren’t in all those conversations. Things evolve. What worked for 5 people doesn’t work for 10.

That’s when you need to step back, and really work what your values are, what’s important. These are our values:

We believe that people come first – without our team, we are nothing. Without our customers, we have nothing. Melodics is here to make a positive difference to people’s lives. 

We build strong relationships. Externally, that is working with partners. We are very much a business of partnerships. We find ways to support the goals of our partners, so that they in turn will support us. That’s what partnership means to us. 

Internally, it’s how we treat each other – with kindness. That means being respectful and supporting one another, but at times challenging each other, and not settling for good enough. In debate, our mindset is to refine the idea, not to win the argument. We have strong opinions, but hold them loosely, and we are willing to change our minds.

We choose to be human. We each have strengths and weaknesses. We are open with each other. As individuals, we’re all awesome at some things, and not so awesome at others. The more open and honest we can be with each other about this, the better we can work together as a team.

We know it’s hard to get started with music. We know that there are barriers, people feel excluded, that music is for musicians, other people. We clear a path. We recognise those barriers are real, and help to break them down, to make music accessible to everyone.

We also clear a path at work. We strive to remove the barriers that exclude people, and stop them from bringing their whole selves to work. 

Clearing a path means being highly aligned, but loosely coupled. In command, but out of control. To be in command, clearly communicate intent, values, and standards. To be out of control, trust your team’s skills, judgement, and experiences (and get out of the way). In this way, we enable and empower.

We experiment with intention. We believe in perfection through iteration. We’re making a world-class product, and we know that the way we get there is by fine-tuning the cycle of deploying, learning and iterating. At our core is an experimental mindset. This means that many of the things we try will fail – If we’re not failing enough, we’re playing it too safe. We’re willing to be wrong. Failure is normal, to be expected – the value is what we learn from it. 

We keep it lean. When it comes to process, our mantra is barely sufficient. Enough to do the job, no more. No process for process sake.

Work is most rewarding when you are in a state of flow, flow is where challenge and ability intersect. We ask our team to do things they already excel at, and mix that with pushing people beyond their comfort zone, making space for learning.

The concept of flow is core to our company. Flow as a concept overlaps with so much of what we do. In education, this concept is known as the learning edge. In gaming it’s called challenge balance. The idea is found everywhere at Melodics – progress happens when you’re in the zone between too easy, and too hard. Challenged, but not to the point of frustration. 

We have a responsibility of guardianship – to leave the world better than we found it. We believe music is good for the soul and mind, and that our success will improve lives. 

We believe that outcomes are more important than input. We’re counting what we do, what we make, what we improve or resolve. What counts is our achievements. Not how many hours you work in a week. 

These are the values we aspire to hold ourselves to.

 

A little bit more…

We aspire to these values. We don’t always meet them. By putting these down in writing, this gives us something to point to, to say this is how we want to act, who we want to be. I invite everyone to challenge anything that they see us doing that does not live up to these values.

And as founder, there is something else that I personally feel very strongly about

We are a New Zealand company. Our country prospers by exporting our land

Rain falls and the sun shines on grass, which is eaten by cows, who make milk, which we sell.

We sell our scenery to tourists. 

I believe that this doesn’t scale… we can’t get more rain, more sun. We can’t accommodate 100x more tourists. 

It’s not sustainable. Scaling up agriculture puts even more pressure on our environment. Flying people in on jet planes is ruining the air. The future lies in exporting ideas

Part of my personal mission with Melodics is proving that this can be done, and done from here. We’re clearing a path for other kiwi companies to do the same. 

 

 

 

 

Oct 09

It’s guided learning, but YOU create your own path.

by in Fundamentals, Melodics, Pro Tips

Learning to play music is exciting, but getting started can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. 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 all common bits of feedback we hear from those looking to get started with learning to play their instrument.

The solution?

Introducing the Melodics Guided Path – a structured map through the Melodics Courses to help you find your way and improve your skills on the keys, pads, or drums.

The Guided Path gives you an overview of the areas you should focus on when starting your musical journey with Melodics. Working your way through each Course in the Guided Path will help you lay a solid foundation for you to build upon further.

We’ve designed this path for you to follow, but try moving both ways. Forward through the courses to master new concepts, but also back to lessons you’ve passed so you can see the improvements you’ve made, increase your scores and get those perfects. One of the joys of music learning is the satisfaction of easily re-playing a lesson you once found super hard.

Continue reading It’s guided learning, but YOU create your own path.

Jul 30

Melodics Playground Mode

by in Melodics, Pro Tips

Feel like your playing is getting better but you’re still too nervous to play on your own? Want to be able to sit down at your instrument and play without any prompts? 

Introducing the new Melodics Playground Mode! Now you can free play over Lessons, record yourself, and listen back to evaluate your performance.

Every musician wants to be able to play their favourite songs, but becoming a great musician means more than following a script. Playground Mode gives you all the tools you need to take what you’ve learned and add a splash of your own creativity. Record and listen back to evaluate your own performance! Become a more confident musician and see how much progress you have made! 

How do I find Playground Mode? 

Next time you pass a Lesson, you’ll unlock Playground Mode for this Lesson. Once you’re in there, you’re free to play anything you want. Test yourself by playing the Lesson again from memory with no prompts, or improvise your own remix – it’s up to you

where-to-find-pg-mode

 

Want to know how you actually sound?

Loop it up and record.

Playground Mode will keep looping, so you can spend as long as you want in there. Hit the record button when you’re ready – you can record and listen back to evaluate your performance, start playing another layer over the top, or just sit back and admire your genius.

Messed up? Don’t worry – just hit the X button to start again.

 

Want to get creative, but don’t know where to start? 

Learn the chords, or just jam out! 

Don’t worry if you get stuck, for keys, we’ll let you know what notes and chords mostly sound good with each Lesson. Follow the scale indicated with green dots, or hit the “Show Chords” button to reveal the chords for that Lesson’s key. If you’re feeling extra brave, turn down the backing track to release your true potential and play anything you want!

pg-scale-guide

 

What’s a song key?

A song key determines what notes and chords mostly “sound good” together. This is more of a guide than a hard rule. It’s a good place to start but don’t be afraid to try other keys too, especially when played quickly as passing notes.

 

Is Playground Mode also available in Melodics Pads and Drums?

Of course! Pads and Drums don’t include the key, scale, and chord guides (as those are Keys-only concepts) but you can still jam your ideas, remix the track on the fly, and record yourself to listen back to.

pg-pads-drums

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

The benefits of recording, playback, and evaluation.

Being able to record and listen back to your performance is an incredibly useful tool. When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to notice small mistakes or happy accidents, and it’s difficult to critique your playing in real time. Humans like to get complacent too, so if you’re not careful, you might start to develop bad habits! It’s hard to notice these bad habits, and even harder to break from them without proper feedback.

Usually we have to rely on others for subjective feedback on our performances, but humans are not always the most reliable or critical, either! So who better to provide the best feedback than yourself? You are your own worst critic.

 

Learning how to improvise and jam

One of the most difficult skills to learn is applying your knowledge gained from Lessons to playing in the real world with other musicians. Lessons and courses provide the best core knowledge, but it can be hard to fully understand some concepts and apply them to the real world.

Playground Mode gives you the space to experiment and apply what you’ve learned without any prompts. With our chord suggestions for Melodics Keys, you can explore and get comfortable playing in a specific key, and learn which chords and notes work well together. Pads and drums will allow you to play what you want and evaluate your timing when playing without prompts.

Improvisation is also a big part of becoming a great musician. If you’re comfortable playing the Lesson content, Playground Mode is the place to go to improvise your own version. There’s no time limit, so you can spend as long as you want in there – it’s just you and your instrument!

 

Suitable for all abilities

Regardless of your skill level, there’s something for everyone in Playground Mode. Next time you pass a Lesson, jump into Playground Mode and explore. Start by testing your memory and play the Lesson again without prompts. If you’re feeling confident, set up a loop and improvise your own remix. You can also turn down the backing track and play anything you want. Don’t forget to hit that record button to listen back to your creativity!

Good luck!

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FAQs

Who has access to this feature?

This feature is for subscribers only. Subscribe to one of our plans and get access to Playground Mode for as long as you want.

How do I find Playground Mode in-app?

Once you get at least 1 star on a Lesson, you will see a Playground Mode icon on the screen where your score resides. You can also access Playground Mode in the Pre-Play screen for Lessons you already have at least 1 star on.

Does my performance in Playground Mode count towards my Daily Goal?

It does indeed! However, the time is counted only if you are actually playing – hitting the keys / pads / drums.