New Learning, New Songwriting, New Scales, and a New Ukulele

Over and over and over and over.

How many thousands of times have you practiced that Locrian lick, or singing that one line over your break, that boss polyrhythm, or that one passage in that Bach invention? We keep thinking that if we practice it enough, somehow we will get better.

But the latest in learning research shows that too much repetition bores the brain and that learning is actually more effective when we try something new. The Learning Coach Gregg Goodhart encourages us to shake things up and “feel the blearn.” And Jennifer Foxx strategizes the most effective practice attitudes to maximize your musical growth.

Challenge yourself to write a new superhero song. Buy yourself a new ukulele. Learn a new scale.

And check out all the new happenings inside Musical U:

New Ways to Learn

As a Musical U team, we love what listening skills have done for us in our musicality. And so we are always listening to our members to find new and better ways to help them in their musical journeys.

We’ve found that although we have a wide-ranging selection of rhythm modules, some our members have difficulty connecting with the beat, the underlying pulse that measures all the other aspects of rhythm. So to close this gap, we’ve added a new rhythm practice module, “Connect with the Beat”, to build a rock-solid foundation to all your rhythmic studies.

As the rhythm of life seems to move faster and faster, it’s important to maximize efficiency in our music learning. Jennifer Foxx gave a fantastic masterclass in effective practicing to help us all get more out of those precious music times.

Hearing how pitches fit into the scale can greatly accelerate our abilities to play by ear, improvise, transcribe, and sight-read. Our Resident Pros have released the latest Resource Packs helping guitar players, bass players, singers, and pianists to apply their scale degree recognition skills to their instruments.

And if you haven’t heard by now, we are super-excited about our new upcoming podcast series of interviews and teaching with the greatest minds in modern musicality.

There’s so much happening for your musicality these days when you see What’s New in Musical U: August 2017.

New Ways to Write Songs

One of the biggest blocks to creative songwriting is taking yourself too seriously! Rather than freaking out if your first song isn’t the next top hit or classical masterpiece, songwriting skills much more easy to grow when you’re having fun.

Have you ever written a superhero song? A food song? Time to loosen up and get those creative juices flowing!  Try these 10 Mini Songwriting Challenges to Sharpen Your Writing Skills.

Many top songwriters stress that “inspiration” is not the most important thing to being a successful songwriter. You can’t count on inspiration to take hold when you need to work through a song, but it can help to gather pieces of your song through different activities.

So many believe that inspiration has to come to them. But you can make conscious choices that open up this flow. Deborah Holland explains more about kick-starting inspiration.

Melodies are the most important element of your new song. A great melody can take the listener on a journey, inspiring them and reaching into the depths of human emotions and motivation in ways that very few things can. The element of a melody that captures the listener’s attention is often called the “hook”. Learn more about writing hooks with Production Music Live.

What about chord progressions? Are there standard chord progressions that we can find throughout music to inspire songwriting? The short answer is yes! Many chord progressions are very standard and appealing to the listener’s ear. Learning these progressions will certainly help jump start your songwriting or serve as a starting point for changing the progression. Sarah Spencer from Song Fancy explains more about 4 quick and dirty chord progressions for songwriters.

The ideas generated from the songwriting challenges may not lead to “The Song” that you desired to write. But, it is a valuable exercise to generate ideas and start gathering parts of songs for later. How? As much as we hear about songs that were written in one sitting, more songs are developed over time through the process of re-writing songs. Corey Stewart from All About Songwriting explains the joys of rewriting your songs.

New Music from Five Ancients

Sometimes something new is something very old indeed.

With all the emphasis in traditional music education on learning major and minor scales, we often lose sight of the fact that a huge percentage of all music can be performed with only five notes – and it’s been that way for at least 50,000 years!

The practical applications of the pentatonic scale are easy, fun, and mind-boggling in their diversity. Learn more about these Five Notes, Infinite Possibilities: the Pentatonic Scale

Learning the patterns of the pentatonic scale is one thing, but where do you go from there? Guitarists have a specific challenge to link the various CAGED boxed patterns into a continuous flow up and down the fretboard. Master Guitar Academy has this video to get you started on practicing the minor pentatonic scale for guitar.

What limits does the pentatonic scale have? Well, you are really only limited by your imagination! To get the most out of this scale, you need to explore you to use it musically, and not just as a pattern. Discover eight different ways to use the pentatonic scale more musically in this podcast from Learn Jazz Standards.

As we learned, there is a difference in the major and minor pentatonic scale, even though both can be used for improvisation over the same chord progression. How does that work? Effective Music Practice explains this cool phenomenon of modal interchange.

The pentatonic scale is a great way to easily up your improvisation game. It works so well over many other chord progressions and phrases that you can’t ignore it! So, how have some of the musical masters employed this scale? 10 Minute Jazz Lesson talks about Herbie Hancock’s pentatonic pattern from his solo in “Tell Me A Bedtime Story”.

A New Ukulele

What if learning a new instrument was easy?

The recent astronomical surge in popularity of the once-humble ukulele proves that an instrument can sound good almost right out of the box – with just a little instruction.

So did you recently receive a uke for your birthday? Picked one up as an impulse buy? Walk past the racks of ukuleles at the music store, thinking, “What if…?”

You Bought a Ukulele… Now What? Globe-trotting uke aficionado Colleen from Coustii answers the question once and for all.

It is so great to get started on a new instrument! Colleen reveals a few of the basic chords. And now you are ready to expand your knowledge and break out into the wide world of ukulele chords! To keep your path to Uku mastery going, learning the major, minor, and seventh chords is absolutely essential. Uku Guides teaches these basic ukulele chords to get you started.

Now that you have gotten the basics of your ukulele down, it’s time to break into playing a song! But don’t restrict yourself to songs that were written for ukulele. The instrument is versatile enough to play a whole range of music that will fit your musical interests. Katie from One Music School shows how to play “Before You Start Your Day” by twentyonepilots.

That song was a blast to learn! Are you ready to expand your knowledge of the ukulele into a wider array of songs? This guide to 37 easy ukulele songs for beginners from Acoustic Bridge is the perfect place to continue growing your repertoire of ukulele tunes.

When you become passionate about an instrument, there is no better way to dive deeper into the history and technique than through podcasts. So much information is conveyed in a short amount of time… and you can listen to them anywhere. For a great podcast that is focused on the ukulele, check out OokTown for some in-depth knowledge on this fascinating instrument!

New Attitude

Hey, isn’t music supposed to be fun? Launching into something new may not only be a blast, but also refresh your attitude towards the learning you were slogging through.

So click “buy now” on that new ukulele, learn some new pentatonic patterns, open a new flood of songwriting creativity, and open up to a new world of musicality with a Musical U module, masterclass, or podcast.

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