Music is basic human behavior. Everyone is born with the ability to learn to do it, just as everyone is born with the ability to learn to speak. Brain research has shown this to be true. (Crowe) Almost everyone learns to speak. Why do so many people NOT do music? The really puzzling thing is, so many people want to. People LONG to play music. Many people choose other priorities, and many people believe that they cannot learn music.
There are various reasons why people think they can’t do music and we will talk more about those reasons in the future. I will want to hear what you have to say about it too.
For years now, I’ve been intrigued by stories of other cultures where everyone is a musician. Throughout most of human history, music was a normal everyday activity for everyone. (Levitin) How did this work? How does it work? And why is our modern western culture so different? These are questions I ask myself as I develop my philosophy of teaching music, and I have found some answers. We’ll talk about those later.
The joy is in the process.
If you want to play music, I want to help you learn and progress. It doesn’t matter if you learn fast or slow. The process of learning and progressing is the part that brings the most joy anyway, and you can be in that process fully and enjoy that process fully regardless of your rate of progress. As a matter of fact, (here’s my first tip) you will progress faster if you let go of any attachment to the result and simply enjoy the process. Then, you get to be happy NOW. You’re not waiting for the result to happen. You’ll have less tension, pain and injury as well.
You have to start where you’re at.
Teachers are frustrated and students are discouraged when the teacher has presented material that is too far ahead of where the student actually is. It’s not that you can’t learn it; it’s more like you’re trying to do algebra before you’ve learned addition and subtraction. You’ve gotta get your basics one or two at a time and not have way too many new things all at once. Modern music is very complex. We need to break it down into manageable pieces.
Even if you already play music quite a bit, most people have holes to fill. Something is holding you back. There’s something you want to do, but you can’t (yet). You might not know what the hole is, but a good teacher can break it down, figure out what’s the hitch, help you fill that hole, and BOOM:
You have a breakthrough!
Breakthroughs are awesome! Suddenly you can make the infernal F chord on guitar! Now your fingers can reach that awkward chord shape. At last you can learn new rhythms just by hearing it, and you know when to change chords, or you know what note to play next...intuitively. Your sense of rhythm has improved and you can play with other musicians. You can sit with other musicians and play along. (On a song you never heard before!) You wrote a song!! FINALLY, you can improvise a solo at a jam session!!
These are all breakthroughs my students have enjoyed. What breakthrough are you hoping for? (You can answer that when you enroll on my email list here or at the end.)
Music is important.
Learning music, especially music theory, creates brain pathways that make you smarter at EVERYTHING. Smart folks 2,500 years ago knew this. I mean, they may not have understood “brain pathways,” but they considered music to be the gateway to all the sciences. They believed that any medical doctor worth his salt would be well educated in music theory. They used music as medicine. (Crowe) And modern research has shown that developing many brain pathways by learning new things and problem solving can prevent Alzheimer's symptoms. (Eagleman) Music uses your whole brain, (Levitin) and I doubt there is anything that will create more interrelated pathways than studying and playing music.
Live music is better.
In my studies to become a therapeutic musician, I have gained a greater appreciation for real, live, unadulterated music. For now, I’ll just say, there is something about live, non-amplified music. There is a physical, scientific reason why it affects you. It heals you. It brings balance to your being...literally. Later on, we’ll talk about why. AND we’ll talk about the fact that music doesn't have to be complicated or played perfectly to have a therapeutic affect.
Music is NOT just for the experts.
Music is like gardening. You can do it in a big, complicated way, or you can do it in a simple, easy way. You can be a master gardener, a farmer, or you can have a house plant. The simple, easy ways of making music, to a great extent, have been forgotten by modern culture and replaced by a lot of very complicated music that is difficult to play for a beginner. Beginners often feel like they are not playing “real” music until they are playing something that sounds like what they heard on the radio.
If that’s what you want to sound like, just remember: most musicians you hear on the radio did not get that way in a year or two. They started when they were 15 or 20...or 10!...and they worked at it for 5 or ten years, and that’s why they sound like that. Then, they added to all that hard work a unique skill set involving a LOT of business and PR skills that have nothing to do with musicianship...and more hard work...and that’s why you hear them on the radio. If your goal is to be rich or famous, you’re probably on the wrong website. If you want music to enrich your daily life and that of those around you, you’ve come to the right place.
So, here’s the plan:
If you are going to make music, you will need the full cooperation of your brain.
So. Next time, we will be discussing, “How the Brain Learns Music” and how understanding that will help you to achieve your musical goals.
Also coming right up:
Music Language Basics:
Easy to understand basics of musical language that will demystify all those chords, keys, sharps, flats....We’re going to make sense of it all. You can learn:
- How to play along on a song you’ve never heard before
- How to figure out on your own how to play a song
- How to write your own songs
- How to transpose to get the song in the right key for your voice
- How to find chord shapes that are easier for your fingers (you don’t have to play Eb on the guitar...ever...(unless you want to) )
Join my email list here, so you’ll know when something new happens.
References and Further suggested reading:
Music and Soulmaking by Barbara Crowe
This is Your Brain on Music, by Daniel J. Levitin
The Brain The Story of You, by David Eagleman