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7.27.2017

From Words to Music, Writer to Musician: Resources for Learning How to Play & Compose


Well, that's got to be the longest post title I've ever used. 

Not always, but a lot of the time when we work creatively with the written word, writing poetry and putting our hearts into our beloved stories, we start to develop a desire to express ourselves in another way -- with music.

I've never met anybody who didn't want to play an instrument of some kind, and many of us would've loved to be musicians, or at least capable of playing something, long before discovering this ink-and-paper world of plots and characters, where we, as authors, are allowed and even encouraged to pull the strangest, most wonderful things straight out of our asses. Some even manage to learn the musical ropes early on in life!

But, if you were like me, then you were never quite that ambitious. I've always thought it would be amazing to play an instrument, and I've tried a couple times with piano, very briefly with guitar, flute, etc. Never stuck with it for long. I still wanted to learn, but I just didn't have the motivation for it.

Over my last few years of writing, however, I've felt myself drawn back to the lovely sounds of music, often writing to the beat or mood of certain tracks, and to the rhythm of instrumental melodies. I've even found myself singing a couple of my own poems -- whoops. And then I hit upon an artist, a style, that renewed my craving to learn to play: Lindsey Stirling, violinist.

It started with music helping me to focus the mood and rhythm of my poems, it resulted in me singing said poems and picturing them accompanied by beautiful songs, and it led to me buying a beginner's violin. Who knows if this is just another short burst of inspiration, bound to fade and die off, but I'm at least putting good effort into this one; I've been self-teaching myself, using YouTube videos, Internet articles, and I've just recently booked a few private lessons to ensure I'm building on a strong foundation (i.e., no bad habits).

But whether or not I actually make it anywhere, I'm still learning some good stuff along the way, and I've found some pretty great resources to help me out. If you're in a similar boat as me, and you need a place to start your musical endeavor, that's why I'm writing this -- I'd love to share my findings so far with you!

(Well, now that my long-winded backstory is out of the way, ready for the real stuff? Hope it helps you!)





My Inspiration:



Video: "Elements" by Lindsey Stirling

Lindsey Stirling is a well-known name and a very talented violinist and performer. When I stumbled upon her original song "Shadows," I loved it. After a little while and many listens, I started wanting to play the violin myself.




Video(s): Original Songs Playlist by Taylor Davis

Next, and only very recently discovered, would be violinist Taylor Davis. The first song I heard from her was "Tales of the Wind," but I've since fallen in love with all of her original songs, particularly "Starfire" and "Gateway."


Music Theory:

Music theory is all about the fundamental concepts, and it gets into the technical side of music. It encompasses a whole bunch of topics, including numerous sets of rules, scales, chords, notation, etc. The resources below hit upon various areas of basic music theory, but it's a pretty big area of study, so most likely not everything is covered here.


- Websites, Articles
    • I actually haven't tried this one yet as I only just now ran across it as I was writing up this post. But it looks like a great set of interactive online music theory lessons.
    • Free lessons, exercises, and tools for you to use. Also has paid products -- not necessary, but if you want to help support them!
    • Another one I've not done much with as I just found it, but this is another online course that will take you through the basics of MT. Very detailed, lots of reading.
    • Course is free, also has optional paid products.
    • Because you can always count on WikiHow to teach you to read music.
    • Lots of reading, but great visuals and explanations to help you read music.
    • Free, but has a shop and other topics -- check 'em out!


- Videos

(I originally planned to insert each video straight into this post, but it didn't want to work properly of course. But if you prefer to watch and listen over reading walls of text, give these a look!)


    • One hour general music theory lesson.
    • I highly, highly recommend this series of lessons on reading music. This is the first. Made as simple as possible, and given to you in short sessions.
    • Now, unless you're just that good, you won't absorb and properly process how to read music in just 15 minutes. But you'll get lots of great starting information here!
    • Great visuals in this one, again on the topic of reading music. Pretty much just a snippet, however. Full lesson can be found here.

    • And for when you get tired of reading/listening about how to read sheet music, try this one for some humor. (You probably won't learn too much from this.)


Lessons:

takelessons.com

You can learn by ear without any of this. You don't need to be able to read music or understand "music theory," just as you don't need to know the technical details of a written and spoken language in order to write and speak it fluently. It becomes something intuitive, rather than by-the-book.

(Of course, it depends on where you want to go with it. Professional is a bit different from hobby.)

But it's worthwhile to learn it all. It's the way to have everything come together, to really understand what it is you're doing, why, and how to work with it. You can do this yourself, but sometimes you might want some extra help, or maybe you prefer traditional teaching.

In this case, I recommend

>> TakeLessons <<


Because...
  • Having booked my own lessons with this site, I can vouch for its usefulness and wonderful service thus far.
  • It allows you to find lessons both online (live) or offline at a teacher's studio or in your own home.
  • You can find a great, reasonably-priced teacher anywhere in the U.S. and read others' reviews about them.
  • Scheduling, etc., is largely done on TakeLessons. You and your teacher can reschedule lessons right from your shared online calendar!

TakeLessons offers lessons on other subjects as well, including performing arts, academic tutoring, and language. It is based and targeted toward people in the U.S., so unfortunately international students might not get much from this (though you might be able to attend the live online classes).

I've loved my experience with TakeLessons so far. I'm only one lesson in, but the process was easy peasy, and my teacher is fantastic. Feel free to message me if you'd like more information about it.

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In my view, going from words to music is a natural progression, especially for writers of poetry, due to poetry's lyrical nature. Music is its own sort of language, and learning how to play an instrument is a beautiful goal to have. Sometimes, though, we need a good kick in the butt to get started, whether that involves discovering inspiration or figuring out where to start.

You've got the entire Internet at your disposal in order to do that, however. So take advantage of it, and enjoy yourself.

These are basic resources that apply to any instrument. If you'd like websites, articles, videos, etc. that are specific to the instrument(s) you play, let me know!

4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. I remember being in Orchestra whenever I was in middle school. I actually learned the violin and actually still have mine in my room, though I'm not as good with it as I used to be.

    I've also heard Lindsey Stirling and love her music. Or at least, the songs of hers I've heard. But I definitely agree about writing and music, that they go hand in hand with each other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh how cool that you play(ed) and were in orchestra! :) The violin is a beautiful instrument. I'm still realizing just how much of a range it has -- people are able to get all kinds of different sounds out of it!

      Lindsey's music is fabulous. I just love the solo artists like her, with the brilliant costumes and cinematic videos to go along with great songs. And yes, exactly, I really do think writing and music are a match made in heaven.

      Thank you, Raney! I'm glad you enjoyed!

      Delete

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