The Learning Cycle (Kindle Version)
My philosophy of learning to play a musical instrument is to create a 'Learning Cycle'.
The more you play, the more you enjoy and the better you get. The better you get, the more you enjoy, and the more you want to show off. The more you show off, the more you enjoy and the more you want to play and improve.
Much like with video games, the rewards make you want to move on, discovering new things and becoming better in the process. My goal is to make playing an instrument as addictive as video games. Can you imagine how quickly you would turn people off video games if there were clinics on the proper way to hold a controller, or games that were nothing but repeatedly hitting buttons to improve your hand eye coordination? For too long learning an instrument has been a form of torture, rather than sitting down to a big bowl of ice cream and candy.
I've developed this view of playing an instruments, in no small part, by watching my son. He is an avid gamer. He has been since I bought him a Nintendo system when he was 6 and he promptly began battering the TV screen while playing "Duck Hunt". He got every gaming system as he grew older and would while away many an hour clicking, stomping, and flailing madly in the air. He would proudly announce a new level, or a game completed, or how anxious he was for a new game or system to arrive.
I was a little worried at this point, I must say.
However, he took up the electric guitar and applied the same gaming focus, to learning music. It was astonishing to watch him. He didn't start with 'band class' or 'teaching little fingers to play' on the piano, as had I, but rather he played songs he liked and wanted play. He spent hour after hour on some complicated little 'lick' and was thrilled when he got it. So much so, that he soon had to learn a different, or harder lick. Just as with a video game, he had to move on in levels. He is now an amazing guitarist and musician. Where learning an instrument has a big advantage over playing video games is showing off. Everyone loves to show off. It's a thrill to have others see how good you are at something. Who doesn't love getting a first place ribbon, or trophy; or winning the game for the team; or winning at "Jeopardy", or "Scrabble"; or being top of the class and voted most likely to succeed?
Playing an instrument gets much more approval than playing a video game. Listening to a young person struggle through "Pachelbel's Canon" is infinitely more thrilling than watching someone batter an Orc in a video game.
Humans being humans, we soon clue into that fact and seek more praise and attention, and therefore work hard to better our performance. It's simply human nature.
I developed VideoSheetMusic to foster the 'Learning Cycle'. The music scrolls along to backing music and the musician plays along. With the advent of video streaming services like 'YouTube', people can not only access the VideoSheetMusic, but they can also accomplish the 'show off' part of the 'Learning Cycle' as shown with these two videos:
Because it's really important to not only play music but play for others and be able to play wherever you are, I have developed DVD's of VideoSheetMusic. Since DVD's are older technology, most people have access to a DVD player, or personal DVD player (which fits nicely on a music stand) and can therefore practice and perform, both important steps in the 'Learning Cycle'
I put all the resources for learning an instrument on my site 'Flutegirl.ca', though this material can be used for Violin, Piano, Recorder, Oboe, Ocarina, EWI and other treble clef, non-transposing instruments, as well as, flute.
thewolf12399 wrote: " Thank you so much penny for all of your videos. i have recently been nominated for a band competition sort of thing. i really think it is because of your videos. they inspired me to learn new notes just to play some of my favorite songs on my flute. (stairway to heaven, bohemian rhapsody, canon, etc.) my band teacher also told me i have an abnormally good tone, that made me want to learn more songs. the only thing i really use to practice is your videos. so thank you so much for the videos. you've inspired my love of playing the flute.-thank you- "
This email got me to thinking...
Why would playing VideoSheetMusic videos improve tone so much?
Playing music is a constant back and forth, of listening and watching for cues, adjusting tone, tuning, tempo, dynamics, and other subtle elements. When practicing on your own, you are usually focused on the notes and don't worry about the other elements as much. That's why groups rehearse. If it were simply a matter playing the notes; groups could show up on the night of the performance and that would be that. Because VideoSheetMusic is in essence playing with a group, it enables the musician to hear themselves in conjunction with others.
Here are two videos of my Nephew playing Cello. In the first, he plays solo and then I superimposed an accompaniment on the second. You can hear some notes slightly out of tune on the second version, that are not as evident in the first. The second version also highlights tempo variation in his performance. [Version 1] [Version2]
If I had been playing the accompaniment while he was playing, rather than adding it later, his timing and tuning would have been better and that's the advantage of playing 'with' others.
Musical interpretation...but Penny, you played it wrong!
I think of sheet music as a guide, rather than a law, particularly with the VideoSheetMusic. Playing 'what's written' is difficult because:
- If I were to actually put all the notes and strange rhythms in the videos, it would be too complicated to read.
- I play differently from day to day. If I'm feeling hyper, there are a lot of weird trilly things. If I'm nostalgic, many notes are held through the rests.
- I change my mind. Making the videos takes some time and by the time I do it and post it up, I have changed my mind on playing and can't be bothered to change the video.
Also, the computer can play accurately and that is nice for the background music as I can rely on it being constant...but as a human, I like to take musical risks and 'interpret' the music, not just reproduce it, perfectly (often very imperfectly).
In the Baroque period, most music didn't include trills and stuff, that was the performers job, to add the right ones. Partially due to the fact that reproducing music was difficult and often by hand, so it had to be written in short form. With the videos streaming by, it's kind of the same situation. If I were to write it out long, it would go by too fast and be difficult to read...so I simplify and leave it up to the performer to make of it what they will. Also, by keeping it simpler, different levels of players can be accommodated. Beginners can read it very strictly and very advanced players can use it for a reference, then make stuff up.
Where is it from?
I often get asked where this music is from? Well, it's a kind of Mashup I guess. I find midi files on the web and take parts I like from one or another and join them together, and also write my own parts and add them as I see fit. A good example is "Bridge over troubled water
" - I used 2 different midi files and also wrote a separate cello part as well as several other parts. I also used the drums from "The Grinch medley"...so, it's 3 songs + my own writing and sound effects (thunder and rain).
Then I orchestrate it for my instrument choices and taste and make a VideoSheetMusic video.
Huffington Post Blogs
I write for the Huffington Post and these pictures are links to each article, or,
download the Kindle Version of each Blog (mobi format)
Most have to do with music, but I do write on tech and art as well.
Getting Back to Music (Kindle Version)
The Midi Files (Kindle Version)
The Amazing EWI (Kindle Version)
Transposition (Kindle Version)
Tweeting (Kindle Version)
Drawing for the Soul (Kindle Version)
Cracking the Code (Kindle Version)
Speaker Shopping (Kindle Version)
Ctrl Z (Kindle Version)
Because I do tinted pencil drawings, they work well on all Kindles.
Download the my kindle drawings