What’s New in Musical U: August 2017

Hi, this is Christopher Sutton, the Founder and Director of Musical U, and I’d love to share with you what’s new in Musical U this month.

You can watch the video below or read on to learn more.

We had three exciting new developments at Musical U this month. The first is a brand new module to help you connect with the beat in music. The second was our monthly masterclass this month with Jennifer Foxx talking about mindful practicing and how to kick those bad practice habits to the curve.

And, the third was new Resource Packs for guitar, bass, piano and singing on the topic of scale degree recognition and helping you to identify notes by ear and apply that directly on your instrument.

Let’s dive in!

New Rhythm Module: Connect with the Beat

We already have several rhythm modules at Musical U, including ones to help you learn the basics of rhythm, learn how to use speaking methods to get rhythms right in music, practicing, getting rhythms correct on your instrument or when clapping and to read rhythmic notation, as well as applying it to real music.

So why a new rhythm module? Well, what we found was that some members were coming in and although the concepts were clear from what our What is Rhythm and Tempo and the Beat modules, they then found there was a step missing when they went onto our Rhythm Practice module. In particular, they had difficulty finding the beat reliably in music.

Everything we do with rhythm depends on having a sense of the beat or the pulse of music, and so we’ve created a brand new module called Connect with the Beat. This new module helps you to connect with that beat in music to relate it to different instruments and to do exercises to help you connect with the beat in real music.

For example, there’s a walkthrough for Eye of the Tiger, a song I’m sure you know and then I think we go onto Taylor Swift. This whole module is about making sure when you hear a song, you can tune into where the beat is, clap along and then use that as a foundation for all of your rhythm skills.

We’re really excited to add this new module to the rhythm section of Musical U because it’s going to fill in that gap and help our members who are a bit more unsure about rhythm to get a rock solid sense of the beat before they move onto the more advanced material.

New Masterclass: Mindful Practicing

Every month at Musical U, we run a live masterclass, and this month we were delighted to have Jennifer Foxx from musiceducatorresources.com come and present on the topic of mindful practicing.

Jennifer is a real expert on helping students to get more out of their practice time and whether you’re a 13-year-old learning piano for the first time or a 30-year-old hobbyist guitar player, whatever stage you’re at with music, making the most out of our practice time is one of the most important things if we want to really reach our goals. I was so happy to have Jennifer with us to present both the problems and the solutions. Let’s have a quick peek.

Clock watchers. Clock watchers pretend to practice with the wrong reason and that’s basically to pass the required time. I know this happens a lot with younger students and that’s why I tell my parents that when they ask how long I want students to practice, I typically tell them, “You know what? I would rather them set practice goals because practice goals are going to be more efficient than watching the clock”. You can waste a lot of time say in 30 minutes of practice and get absolutely nothing done if you’re not focused.

Musical U members now have access to the full recording of this masterclass, as well as the helpful handout Jennifer prepared with all of the resources and links mentioned.

Resource Packs: Scale Degree Recognition

The third big addition this month with new Resource Packs for all of our Instrument Packs in Musical U. This month the topic was scale degree recognition. We already have a training module on scale degree recognition to help you to spot different notes from the scale by ear. Inside Musical U, we use the solfa system which calls those notes do, re, mi and so on but it’s exactly the same if you want to call them 1, 2, 3 or Bob, Jeff and Freddy. It’s just about giving an identity to each note of the scale.

That module works great for helping people develop the core skill of recognizing the notes of the scale. But, this month we had our Resident Pros prepare tutorials to help you apply that directly on your instrument.

Let’s take a quick peek at the tutorial video Clare Wheeler put together for our singers.

This week’s subject is learning scale degrees which is a great topic to continue on from the audiation and pentatonic videos that I’ve already done. It uses a lot of the same ideas. Essentially, we’re just taking one step further. This is great for getting your starting note if you sing in a choir or you’re a soloist. There’s no magic to it. It’s not this mystical thing that some people can just do. It’s all about knowing your scale degrees.

It’s really imperative for sight-reading. I think that in your module for sight-reading you learned about key signatures and stuff and you can learn all the theory you want but it’s going to be no good to you if you can’t find the note that you’re looking for.

And of course, my favorite thing is always how to use these things in improvisation.

As always that tutorial video is accompanied by a Quick Reference guide with all the key information and exercises taught, and some practice MP3s to help you really drill these exercises and practice them until they’re second nature.

So those were the three big additions to Musical U this month:

  1. Our new rhythm module to help you connect with the beat
  2. Our monthly masterclass, the recording of that masterclass, which was on the topic of “mindful practicing”.
  3. Our new Resource Packs for singing, piano, bass and guitar on the topic of Scale Degree Recognition.

WAIT! One more thing. We are launching a podcast in September. If you haven’t already heard about this, it’s going to be interviews and teaching, all on the topic of musicality.

I’m super excited about the new show, and we’ve been recording episodes in advance. We’ll be launching in just a couple of weeks now.

If you want the inside scoop and behind-the-scenes information, bonus content, all that good stuff – or if you just want to be notified as soon as it comes out, please head to musical-u.com/podcast-insiders and you can sign up for insider exclusives and all of the full information about this new show.

It’s going to be totally free, you can listen on your phone, tablet or on your computer, listen at your convenience and it’s going to be a fantastic way to dive deep into the world of musicality and how to develop your own skills to feel more like a natural musician.

Thanks for joining me for this look inside what’s new inside Musical U this month, and I hope to see you inside soon.

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