2017 is over, the festive season has passed, and most of us are trekking back to the workplace (or school!). All that being said, now is the time to make some choices about how you shape your music creation in 2018. There’s loads of resolutions that we usually make for ourselves - getting fit, spending more time with the family, starting a new hobby, but have you made resolutions for your music? Here are some of mine:
Theory, Theory, Theory
I’ve talked about musical theory a couple of times in previous blogs and on twitter. I’m a fan of knowing how and why things work, but it’s never the be all and end all of music! Musicality and feel will always trump the ‘by the numbers’ compositional methods - but I’ve decided to really commit to learning new harmonic music theories, understand more advanced Jazz theory, and generally increase my knowledge of how music works.
As I’ve said, theory never replaces musical feel and expression, however it can really help when you’re searching for that elusive chord or harmony for the next bar. At the very, very, least, you’ll learn to read sheet music - which can really help your musicality and ability to bring your ideas to other performers without playing or singing everything all the time.
There are loads of good resources online, and I’d really recommend checking out a guy called Rick Beato - he’s super insightful about theory, and also has a load of other content around music production and the industry. You can also check out Adam Neely for interesting musical facts and theory. There are loads of great books about music theory, from beginner to advanced, out there to pick up - and I recommend that you do!
Make More Music
It’s an easy one to say, but not always one to carry out. My plan is to set a target and then keep to it, no matter what. A lot of us as musicians and artists like to tweak, to really try and perfect every second of the music - but this gets in the way of a piece that’s actually finished. I’m going to try and get something out on YouTube or Facebook for people to see on the last day of each month - whatever kind of state that audio is in. I’m hoping this will fire some creative drive in me, and also give me a deadline to work towards as the year goes on.
You could always give Record Production Month a try as well. The RPM challenge is for musicians to really push themselves during February. 10 songs, or 35 minutes of music, previously unreleased (preferably composed during February) is the task, and you have 28 days to do it in. It’s stressful, but liberating, and the more you do it, the more tricks you pick up to increase your workflow. Have a look at their FAQs to learn more.
Practice & Learn
Practicing can sometimes be a hard thing to bring yourself to do, especially when you’re in a rut about learning or polishing pieces. Motivation comes down to each of us personally, what gives me a kick to practice might not give you the same kick, but there are things you can do to make practicing more productive, or at least fun! My goal for 2018 - 30 minutes per day, or at least 3 hours a week. I’m not copping out and saying that the time I spend doing theory, or writing music counts as ‘practice’, I mean I’m grinding scales and pieces that challenge and stretch my abilities.
Also, practice what you like, and what you don’t - I don’t enjoy bebop, but there’s a high level of technical skill in playing it. Conversely, I love fast passages in classical and modern compositions - and the technicality and fast thinking that I can take from bebop will help me excel in these places. I struggle to enjoy Debussy, but the level of expression and musical emotion required to perform his pieces is very high. Equally, I enjoy pieces like All Blue and Blue in Green by Miles Davis, and the expression I can take from Debussy will help in my articulation and interpretation of this kind of music. What it comes down to is, you can't just practice music that you love - and even the music you really hate has so much to offer you!
Alternatively, it might be to learn a new instrument. You’ll find that if you already play a woodwind instrument, you can take some of those motor skills to another one. You’ll always be able to take your musicality with you regardless of the instrument. Something that I’m going to try and do this year is learn... Drums. My understanding of written rhythms is ‘fine’, but if I’m sight reading in a band I find I pick up rhythmic and musical cues from my fellow musicians rather than the dots in front of me. I’m also not highly coordinated, so Drums seem like a great idea! All joking aside, I’m hoping that it’s going to help my sense of rhythm and timing in all of my music.
Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what some of your musical New Years Resolutions are!