What’s New in Musical U: October 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.

There were three big additions at Musical U this month. The first was a preview of our upcoming Scale Degree Recognition module. The second was our latest Resource Packs for our Instrument Packs, this month on “rhythmic precision”. The third is the return of our Halloween module, because it’s October, and we made a big addition to that module this year. Oh, and details of our next free live masterclass, stay tuned to the end of the video for that.

Preview: Scale Degree Recognition 2

First up, we shared a preview of one of our forthcoming modules. We already have a great module for scale degree recognition. If I go here to training and look at all our training modules, and go to melodies, you can see our existing scale degree recognition module here, which covers the major pentatonic scale so the notes Do, Re, Mi, So, and La in solfa.

This is a really good module and it has a bunch of training and testing MP3s to help you learn to recognise these notes by ear, as well as our interactive training widget to check that you are able to do it.

We have all of this material for the major pentatonic, but what we’ve been working on is a followup module for the full major scale. This month we shared a preview of that.

We explained how the module is going to work, as well as sharing some of those training tracks from the module. We have male and female voice singing the solfa for these little exercises and we share tracks from there of the lessons, one introducing the note Fa, one introducing the note Ti and then one, which covers the full major scale. Let’s have a little listen.

“Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do-”

So the idea with these training tracks is that you’ll hear a scale in solfa and then you’ll hear one note from that scale and your task is to identify which of the notes it was.

So by practicing with these tracks, you get more and more able to recognise the notes of the scale by ear and you can then take that to our melody practice exercises which lets you recognise the notes of whole melodies by ear too. So this was just a little teaser of that module and we’ll be releasing the full module inside Musical U soon.

Resource Packs: Rhythmic Precision

The second big addition at Musical U was this month’s resource packs in our instrument packs. We have Instrument Packs for guitar, piano, bass, and singing that help you connect up the ear skills you’re working on at Musical U with the actual playing of your instrument. And each month we release a new tutorial video as well as accompanying MP3s to help you practice and a quick reference sheet to remind you of what you’ve learned.

This month the topic was “rhythmic precision” and how to get a really good inner metronome and sense of the beat. Let’s take a quick peek at what Dylan Welsh did in our guitar pack this month. Here’s the tutorial video and I’ll just skip in a little bit.

Subdivide in your head, divide the beat up in your head or even do so verbally out loud into 16th notes. So what I’m thinking when I’m hearing this pulse, one, two, three, four. Notice, I’m even subdividing with my body. I can’t stop myself, but I’m hearing it as taka taka taka taka taka take taka taka taka …

So each of our Pros presented exercises you can do to hone your sense of rhythmic precision directly on your instrument.

Halloween training!

The third exciting edition at Musical U this month was the release of our Halloween module. And I’m a massive Halloween fan and I’m afraid I inflict that on my team. But fortunately, there are some members at Musical U who love it as much as I do. And the reality is that digging into what makes songs sound scary can actually be a fantastic way to draw together all of the listening skills you might have been working on and put it into practice for a fun and different activity.

So as you can see it’s quite a big module at this point and each of these lessons so far had taken a track that was composed with kind of horror movie traditions or scary creepy musical elements and the lessons unpack it. So you can see in this one we’re talking about audio effects, the different scales you might use, how you orchestrate, the different types of harmony you might use to give a spooky flavour, and the rhythms that can contribute to a spooky sound.

This year the new lesson we added is called “Transpose and Terrify” and it was actually our Resident Pro for piano, Sara Campbell who put this together for us. And the idea is to explain to you how you can take the well known major song like a nursery rhyme, for example, and transpose it yourself into a minor key. Let’s take a quick listen to how that turns out.

So this new lesson in the module explains step by step what it takes to turn a major tune into minor and gives you an easy process you can follow to do that yourself. It’s a really fun activity to try out at this Halloween-y time of year and it draws on your listening skills and your music theory to be able to transpose major into minor and come up with own spooky creations.

So those were the three big additions at Musical U this month.

  1. We had our preview of the upcoming scale degree recognition module for the full major scale.
  2. We added this month’s resource packs for guitar, piano, singing, and bass to work on rhythmic precision
  3. And we updated and re-released our Halloween module so that our members can have fun putting their new skills into practice at a spooky task at this time of year.

Before you go, just a shout out to our live masterclass coming up this Saturday 28th of October. This is again, with our resident pro, Sara Campbell. She was also a guest on the podcast this month. This is really Sarah month at Musical U.

She’s presenting a masterclass all about four-chord songs and this is such a powerful idea in music if you’ve wanted to understand chord progressions by ear, or write your own, or you just want a deeper sense of what’s going on in the music you hear on the radio or the music you’re playing, this masterclass is really going to help you get to know it all in a fun and practical way.

So I’ll put a link with this video for where you can sign up free to attend that live masterclass.

And of course, if you are a member of Musical U, you’ll get access to the recording afterwards as well.

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

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