02Dec/15

How are musicians so creative?

Are musicians more creative and imaginative?

“ In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.”
-Robert Schumann

They say music is the language of our very soul. Music is one of the things that give the most color and spice in our lives and musical creativity and imagination are among the most complex and abstract aspects of human behavior.

When you listen to or hear a new song playing over the radio, the first thing you would probably think of is about how good or perfect it sounds, and not how it was created. All the pieces and albums that we enjoy during our leisure time or when pampering and resting ourselves from a long and tiring day were the products of the musician’s struggles in discovering or composing songs each single day.

The reasons why musicians are more creative and imaginative

Musicians are so creative and imaginative because of how amazing it is that they can make a simple group of words become meaningful and inspire and touch everybody’s heart.  Only the best and most dedicated musician has the passion or craft to create a masterpiece that people will want to listen to over and over again.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

Musical training is associated with an increased in imagination and creativity. Musical talent is a one of a kind talent because a musician can compose a song just by tapping his home furniture or singing right in the shower when he is taking a bath. For a musician, music is everywhere and this is their way of living and their life. Though for some creating a new song or kind of music is a piece of cake, there are elusive questions also that they ask to themselves such as how she can unlock his creative voice or give life and tone to his song lyrics.

New research suggests that musicians may be at their most creative when they are not playing their instrument or singing. By studying musicians and asking them when inspiration struck them, researchers found that breakthrough moments often happened when players were humming to themselves or tapping out rhythms on the table or imagining dance moves inspired by the music.

The researchers concluded that musicians began to make a piece their own when they felt free and flexible enough to be spontaneous and take risks rather than simply rely on external validation from, say, a teacher.

Essentials of musical talent

The essentials of musical talent are freedom, a sense of feeling, and acommitment to create music that will be loved by the audience, even if the audience only exists in her imagination. Of all people in the world, musicians are the most emotional aside from being the most creative and imaginative.

Psychologists have found seven attributes of highly creative people, especially musicians.

Associative orientation: Imaginative, playful, have a wealth of ideas, ability to be committed, sliding transitions between fact and fiction.

Need for originality: Resists rules and conventions. Have a rebellious attitude because of a need to do things no one else does.

Motivation: Have a need to perform, goal oriented, innovative attitude, stamina to tackle difficult issues.

Ambition: Have a need to be influential, attract attention and recognition.

Flexibility: Have the ability to see different aspects of issues and come up with optimal solutions.

Low emotional stability: Have a tendency to experience negative emotions, greater fluctuations in moods and emotional state, failing self-confidence.

Low sociability: Have a tendency not to be very considerate, are obstinate and find faults and flaws in ideas and people.

Being expressive, joyful, and humorous are just some of the things that come right under the heading of musical talent, creativity, and imagination and they must never be associated with being neurotic or being crazy. The world of music is not like the world of science where things can be invented or discovered accidentally. This kind of course or field requires a lot of sacrifices, passion, and dedication just to be able to create a piece which can represent the life of a person or his feelings in a certain way which is truly effective and touching while being good to listen to as well.

In a study by neuroscientists of jazz musicians, researchers found that when jazz musicians improvise, the brain switches and the lateral prefrontal lobes responsible for conscious self-monitoring became less engaged. Musicians turn off the self-censoring area of the brain so they can generate novel ideas without restrictions. Interestingly, the improvising brain activates many of the same brain centers as language does, reinforcing the idea that the back and forth of improvisation between musicians is akin to its own language.

Have you recently attended a wedding celebration or mass? It would not be that magical, touching and memorable if there wasn’t any background music while the beautiful bride is walking down the aisle to finally tie the knot and let the wedding bells ring.

Without the musical talent of the musicians, our day to day life, celebrations and other events would never be as satisfying. Think of this, most musicians create songs that tell something about their life and experiences. Even if they are very happy, sad or lonely, we can still expect that they can create beautiful songs because of their musical talent. Through the past years since the first time that people discovered the wonders of music, it has been already a part of every man’s life since the joy that it offers makes our life more beautiful, colorful and interesting.

Musicians seem to have no fear of exploring the unknown, entering into the creative world of the unconscious. They all have this incredible drive to create. Keith Richards said, “If you’re a musician, you can never really stop playing, even if you don’t do any gigs or you retire. You’re still in a way playing inside yourself.”

 

 

 

18Sep/15

Why do students drop out of music lessons?

Why do most people drop out of music lessons?

Remus BadeaRemus Badea, Executive Director, American Music Institute

There is no doubt that music is one way that a select few can make a lot of money. However, that does not come that easily. In other words, you need to put in a lot of effort before you can start reaping in rewards from your music career. One such effort is studying in music lessons. But not everyone who enrolls in music lessons ends up achieving what they wanted. What prompts someone talented to leave the music lessons they need to develop?

As an art, music has to be formally learned to bring out the best of person’s musical talent. It is a journey and a long one that requires patience, practice, and perseverance. Not many, sorry to say, soldier on consistently to the ultimate goal they had in mind of becoming a musician, simply because they prematurely ended their studies. Why do so many people drop out of music lessons?

Male Pupil Playing Trumpet In High School Orchestra

Absence of love and passion for the music theory

Yes, you may be talented, but those that don’t have enough enthusiasm or enough passion towards music end up dropping out. Passion is the music engine propeller.

Too high expectations

High expectations are important for success in anything, however, too much of it will nose dive your talent. If you go into music lessons expecting it to be easy to learn you will tend to drop out of the lessons, never to be seen again.

Ego

Whenever you walk into a music class, there is a tendency to rank yourself too highly in comparison to other student musicians. To your surprise the roomful of students has guys more talented than you. This creates a complete reversal of your personal expectations graph, then discouragement sets in and some students drop out. You have to be humble to succeed as a student of music (or anything, for that matter).

Practice makes perfect, but not to some

The music theory taught in class is not enough to put you at the top of the game. This calls for dedication in practicing to perfect what has been learned in your lessons. Students who rely on these lessons only, end up having hoarse voices, uncoordinated chords and so on.

piano lesson 1

Wavered Focus

You may wonder how focus may lead one to quit music lessons. Focus means the attention that is paid to something. Usually music lessons dropouts have very poor concentration and attention levels both in class and at home while practicing. Distractions like phones, friends and multitasking messes with one’s progress and understanding. With these misses, their progress slows and their interest in learning music stalls, leading them to drop out.

Deficiency in moral support

For any adult or children taking music lessons, moral support from teachers, parents and friends is paramount to guarantee the success. This inspiration from family and friends, however small, can be enough to motivate the student to success.

Teaching mode

The student may dislike the teaching technique of the teacher and this may lead them to quit lessons, since the flow of knowledge from teacher to student has been derailed. Unfortunately, the student may quit lessons rather than change teachers.

Tight Schedules

Music lessons require a lot of work and dedication for talent to shine. It takes a lot of assignments and practice, i.e., doing one thing over and over again in a week. Some students find these routines very boring and tiresome and they end up exiting lessons.

To avoid drop outs, teachers should teach professionally. Students should be passionate about the art of music and dedicate time and resources to get most out of their lessons. Parents and the friends should offer moral support and much-needed inspiration to students. Finding a place for practicing in the student’s schedule of work/school, family, friends, sports, etc., is key to preventing burn-out.

Did you know that those who attend music lessons and finish them diligently are found to be sharper in other fields? This becomes a win- win for music students. Press on till the end!

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Remus Badea is Concertmaster of Southwest Symphony Orchestra, adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, and Executive Director of American Music Institute. He teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano.

17Aug/15

How to learn music theory?

What is the best way to learn music theory systematically?

Remus BadeaRemus Badea, Executive Director, American Music Institute

If you are looking forward to learning music theory or taking music classes, it is important to know that there are many ways to go. However, it is equally important to remember that not all methods will work for everyone. Every student has to find the best way for them.

Before I describe the different ways to systematically learn music theory, I will first define what I mean by the term: music theory. It is the study of practices and possibilities of music. It is derived from the observations of how musicians and composers make music and it also includes hypothetical speculation.

It describes the academic study and analysis of fundamental elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, harmony and form but also refers to the descriptions, concepts and beliefs related to music.

music theory

A course in music theory will introduce you to the theory of music, provide you with the skills needed to read and write musical notation, as well as to understand how to analyse, and listen from this critical perspective. It will provide the basis for the further study of music both from a theoretical and practical point of view: musicology, pastiche and free composition, analysis, performance, and aural skills.

The study of music has been made easier by the availability of apps, websites, blogs and social media. These media are helpful in the learning process.

Basic methods for learning music theory

There are different ways to learn music theory and it is essential to know them, particularly if you really have a passion for music. Let us discuss some of them below. It will certainly go a long way in helping you understand what music is all about.

Learning the basic elements that make up music theory:

  • The musical alphabet – The musical alphabet goes to the letter G of the English alphabet. One has to learn all of the alphabets and where the half steps are and are not.
  • Scales – Learning the scale is equivalent to having mastered the song. Every song is based off a scale. The scale helps in figuring out what notes belong where when playing a song. For a guitarist, for example, they are necessary when playing a solo performance.
  • Intervals – The creation of moods and feelings in a song or with music is done by combining, isolating and switching combinations of notes. A change in intervals will most certainly alter the mood of the song drastically.

 

For example, a chord progression that goes from the 1 chord to the 2 chord sounds different when the 2 chord is played on its own.

This approach of learning the music theory should be used while the earner is focusing on his/her goals.

Learning for an individual who knows the notes, names and values involves the following:

  • Learning the key signatures: this involves the major key, the minor key, and the scales.
  • Basic triads – on this the learner should learn how to deal with the triads in the lead sheet.
  • Functions of chords – the tonic, dominant, and predominant chords are the most common and useful. They help when one goes to the chord progressions.
  • Common chord progressions – these are the commonly used chord progressions.

Another recommended skill to ensure that the above method is effective is getting the aural skills (ear training). These help in identifying the structural elements in the music you listen to.

The procedure involves:

  • Interval identification – this is mostly up to the learner.
  • Melodic dictation – this involves the learner listening to a simple piece of music and writing it down.
  • Bass line dictation – this involves listening to any type of music and writing the bass line.
  • Harmonic dictation – this involves listening to music with multiple voices. The learner can write down all of the voices or write the melody/bass and the chord progressions.

It is recommended that to learn well, the learner should focus on listening to a lot of music and studying different books and reading music theory blogs and websites to understand the various approaches to music theory.

To understand music theory, one should also study ear training. In this case, the learner chooses what procedure to use when doing music theory.

These are the topics a learner should consider in learning music theory. Please note the order in which they are written.

  • Basics of musical notation: these are the symbols a student must learn to read music. They include the staff, clefs, and notes.
  • Advanced notations include key signatures, time signatures, advanced clefs, dynamics, and combinations of notes to create chords and complex rhythms.
  • Ear training and dictation: this involves jotting down written music as you listen.
  • More advanced harmonic theory: these include non-harmonic tones, borrowed chords, and secondary dominants.
  • Scales and their relationships to melody and key.
  • Musical form (the overall structure of a piece of music) and its relationship to harmonic areas.
  • Counterpoint – this is the relationship between voices that are interdependent harmonically yet independent in rhythm and contour.

Music theory is not a modular course when studying. Since it is speculative, it is recommended that an individual uses what works for them. The above-mentioned methods of study are just some of those that have worked for other people and they may or may not work for the student. However, if they don’t the learner should not give up. Continuous study and research from the internet and books can produce a way that would better coincide with their goals.

The student should utilise all avenues until the best, simplest and most effective way is found. Listening to music is a very appropriate way to practice.

Remus Badea is Concertmaster of Southwest Symphony Orchestra, adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, and Executive Director of American Music Institute. He teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano.

Beginning Music Theory Websites

MusicTheory.net
Music-Theory-For-Musicians.com
OneMinuteMusicLesson.com