“I’m not musically inclined.” “I’m all thumbs.” “I couldn’t sing my way out of a paper sack.” “I’m tone deaf.” All of these reasons that people give, and more of them, cannot convince me that someone couldn’t learn music if they wanted. After all, everyone remembers snippets of music they’ve heard from the radio or elsewhere. Music makes life interesting. One doesn’t have to know how to read sheet music, to be able to enjoy playing music.
To explain, music is sound divided into elements, that, when heard, pleases our spirits. These elements are melody, harmony, and rhythm. We latch onto the steady beat, and the dramatic, up and down melody.
Now, to divide the elements into what we may understand, we focus on melody. These sounds are put together in increments that follow a pattern. This pattern is based on a scale, or at least a key. The scale, or key, has a letter name, like ‘C’. When one plays a ‘C’ on an instrument, one has a reference point to play the other letters in a melody.
Should you want to learn a song you have heard, take a part of the melody you remember.
You may play the first note that you consider in the range of the song. Whatever instrument you play, you can choose any starting note. In order to reproduce the melody exactly, or very closely, use the following technique.
Does the melody go up or down in sound from the first note? When you play the next note, does it sound right or wrong, good or bad? If it sounds bad, that note is probably not in the scale or key of the song. The way to remember the wrong note is to write it down. So, write down all the right notes, and all the wrong notes you play. You’ll soon see patterns of notes you should and shouldn’t play, as you navigate up and down the melody.
Regarding rhythm, tap out the easiest part of the song you like. If it’s too hard, slow the rhythm, and attempt to tap it without errors. You’ll soon see the long and short taps work together to keep a constant and logical pace. You’re able to emphasize beats, tapping them harder or softer.
Now, attempt to play the right notes within the learned rhythm. Don’t tap out the rhythm any longer. Use the melody for the rhythm. If you’re singing, don’t worry so much about wrong notes, as about correct rhythm. Where you emphasized the rhythm alone, attempt to do the same with the notes. Sing or play them louder or softer, to enhance the beat. Scoop the notes dramatically for effect; lengthen or shorten the notes; play whole phrases gradually louder or softer. Feel the music take over your mind and spirit.
In the end, playing music gives us a beautiful feeling. Like any art, music involves working with the constructs of the physical, to see past physics, and contact the spiritual. Music is for everyone with a spirit.