Singing for Non-Singers, Student-Centric Teaching, Diving into Minor, and Inspired Singing

When it comes to learning music, there are two broad categories of students: those that are largely self-taught, and those who are studying under a music teacher.

No matter which camp you fall into, this week, Musical U is bringing you content that will provide new insights for your learning journey that you and your teacher can use to enrich your lessons.

We speak to two music educators with two different yet equally incredible approaches to teaching – one a headstrong, dedicated violin teacher, the other a pragmatic vocal coach. Next, we introduce our easy-to-follow guide to learning and experimenting with minor keys. Finally, we explore why every musician out there (and not just vocalists!) should try their hand at singing to improve their musicianship.

Singing for Non-Singers

Repeat after us: singing is not just for singers!

It’s for anyone who plays an instrument and wishes to improve their pitch, ramp up their songwriting, or train their brain to audiate, which is the skill of being able to imagine music without hearing it.

Singing for non-singersAnother bonus: singing is one of the best ways to complement your ear training exercises, as you’ll be able imagine the intervals, scales, chords, and melodies in your head without having to use your instrument as a middleman!


Head over to About Singing as a Tool to learn how you can begin honing this skill.

This podcast episode aimed to expand your idea of singing. As we saw, whether you are a singer or not, learning to sing can have many benefits for your overall growth as a musician. In addition to the benefits that were discussed in the podcast episode, singing out loud can also help you to remember your music in a new way. The Bulletproof Musician explores the science behind singing out loud.

A typical way of recalling intervals is to associate the interval with a song that you can easily remember. But Julian Bradley contends that this is not the most effective way of using your audiation skills to recall intervals. Instead, learn more about how you can use your singing voice for this purpose, and the steps you can take to build your musical ear.

So, we learned that singing is a great tool for developing many aspects of your musicality. Inspired by Music Ed Magic to “flip the classroom”, we decided to seek out more great tools for singers. If you are a singer, or want to become a better singer, learning the piano is one of the most useful things you can doPiano Cub explains why!

Student-Centric Teaching

In teaching young children music, what is the most important goal for a music teacher?

Is it to get them playing at a professional level? Ensuring that the parents are getting their money’s worth? Making lessons fun?

It’s certainly not easy to know, especially when torn between uncooperative students and adamant parents.

Focussing music lessons on studentsIn Putting the Student First, with Eloise Hellyer, Eloise provides some unexpected and incredibly encouraging advice for teachers on how to put their own biases aside and engage in thoughtful self-reflection as educators in order to ensure that the needs and wants of their students are placed center-stage.

Eloise shared her inspiring story on how she approaches music education. Through her teaching, she has certainly had a lasting impact on the lives of her students. As a music teacher, you are always trying hone your art of teaching. Benedict Westenra has been an inspiration for our Musical U members, and we are thrilled to share his wonderful guide to becoming a better music teacher.

Many music teachers desire something outside of the traditional classroom and start their own studio of musicians. Like any business, starting a private music studio has its ups and downs, but many teachers find the experience very rewarding. Music Teacher’s Helper outlines the best practices in starting up your own private music studio.

No matter how long you have been teaching or learning music, it’s always refreshing to shake it up a bit with a new approach. Music Ed Magic explores the concept of “flipping” the music education classroom on their page. This practice is gaining popularity in public education and it’s easy to see why!

Diving into Minor

People often mistakenly pidgeonhole music written in minor keys as bleak, sad, and wistful.

Though many minor songs are indeed tearjerking ballads, minor music can evoke feelings such as dread, tension, fright, hope, and even… happiness!

Learning theoryThe richness and feeling that can be evoked by minor keys is well-worth an extensive exploration – and that’s exactly what we’re giving you in our Ultimate Guide to Minor Keys. In here, you’ll find everything from a step-by-step guide on building minor scales and chords, to popular examples of music that utilize minor in fascinating ways, to listening exercises to get your ear acquainted to minor in no time.

So many great scales and variations on these scales are part of our musical language! With three distinct minor scales, it can be difficult to know which scale you should use in your playing. Sean Wilson Piano explains why the melodic minor scale is a great choice for improvising over the ii-V-I progression.

Many of the world’s most iconic songs are written in minor keys. Minor keys allow musicians to express their emotions in colors that aren’t always present in major keys. Once you get the unique sound of minor keys in your musical ear, you may also feel the urge to write your own minor masterpiece. Sam Russell from Reason and Steel provides some insights that will help you along your way.

While some songwriters claim that they “only write what they feel”, most musicians understand the theory behind the chord progressions they are using. A topic that we are particularly passionate about here at Musical U is the Circle of Fifths. To learn more about how to approach songwriting with this master tool, The Singers Workshop has a guide specifically geared towards songwriters.

Inspired Singing

Continuing our singing-themed content this week is a special interview with Davin Youngs, founder of Davin Youngs Voice, Chicago Circle Singing, and the VOXUS Experience.

Davin combines a practical, step-by-step approach to teaching singing with an experience-focused, almost spiritual mindset that encourages maximum musical expression.

Singing expressively

Head over to Singing that Sounds Good – and Beyond, with Davin Youngs to learn about his own long, winding music journey, the breakthroughs he had while learning to sing, and his take on why you’re never too old to start singing!


Davin was such an inspiration to speak with! Hearing the way that he gets people to truly love singing is the hallmark of a great teacher… and creates passionate singers! We aren’t all so lucky to have a teacher like Davin available, but fortunately, Total Vocal Freedom has compiled six ways that you can enjoy singing just as much as Davin’s students do.

One of the biggest learning points for Davin was understanding that vocalists need to develop a mix of chest and head voice if they want to be versatile. Wait… chest and head voice? What exactly does that mean? Phil Moufarrege, a talented vocal coach, explains what a mixed voice is and how you can work to develop it.

When we think about improvisation, we typically think of a jazz guitar player, pianist, or saxophone player. But any musician can learn to improvise (even without playing jazz!). To incorporate vocal improvisation into singing groups, you may want to get some advice from the experts – here’s a fantastic guide from Chris Rowbury.

Enriching your Learning

Whether you’re your own music teacher or are learning from a pro, we hope that this week’s content inspires you to enrich your musicality – for example, by learning to sing and incorporating minor keys into your playing.

Or maybe you’d like to take a page out of Davin or Eloise’s books, and suggest some of their methods to your music teacher to try out together!

In order to get the most out of your music training (whether self-administered or not), it’s a great idea to reflect on what you’re learning, how you’re learning it, and where it fits within the larger puzzle of your musical goals.

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