6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…

 

Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them

 

1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters

 

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3 Things Songwriters Should Always Keep in Mind

Why Songwriting Matters

Are you perfectly content performing the pieces of famous composers and lyricists… or do you want to make your own contribution? If you want to learn how to become a songwriter, check out this guest post by teacher Eric C...

 

The world of music is as vast as the world that we live in. Some genres have existed for thousands of years, while others are still being created today. This is all because music is constantly evolving.

The evolution of music comes from songwriters and composers taking musical ideas that are common and then going a different direction. Other songwriters and composers seek to help a musical genre reach its perfection as they put their own spin on it.

Whether you are reinventing a genre, replicating a genre, or creating a completely new genre, it’s important to remember the value of songwriting, and why it matters. Here are a few things to keep in mind, as a composer:

1) Songwriting is important for the benefit of music as a whole.

Music is a constantly evolving field, and new songs and styles encourage this evolution. There will always be room for new, fresh ideas, as people’s interest in music changes as time goes on.

The only obviously incorrect ways to write music would be to completely copy another person’s song, or to not write at all. But when it comes down to it, there’s no right or wrong way to write a song if you’re writing your own original material. If you’re writing your own melody and/or words, you’re well on your way to becoming a composer — and pushing the music industry along!

2) Writing original music is important to yourself, as a composer.

Every song is a work of art, and a completed song is a measurement of your work. Songwriting is also a way to express yourself as an artist, and it can get you through difficult times (all music can). So when you think about it, writing music is good for your health!

As you continue to write songs, your style will develop and show through your music, and it will ultimately set you apart from others. Your writing style will also become more efficient and neater. This is an important skill that makes you more marketable and sought after as a musician and songwriter.

3) Finally, writing music is important to your audience.

An audience doesn’t have to be at a concert — it’s everyone who listens to your music. And sharing the story behind a song you wrote is a great way to connect you with that audience. It helps the audience relate to you and understand you better.

Similarly, when you sing a song you wrote, it’s like breaking off a piece of yourself and giving it to the audience. If you look at popular music today, the lyrics of most hit songs are clear and relatable. For example, Taylor Swift has several songs about breakups and the feelings associated with them. She has been very successful with connecting herself with her audience, because the thousands of teen girls going through breakups can relate to what her songs are about (and a catchy beat and melody helps, too).

As you can learn from Swift, sharing stories from your life through music is a very effective tool for aspiring songwriters. So, keep your audience in mind the next time you sit down to write a song!

How to Become a Songwriter

If you’re interested in songwriting as a career, just remember it will take some time. Even those who are proficient can sometimes struggle with coming up with song ideas.

If you’re feeling stuck, just sit down and start singing or playing an instrument, and try to make something up. It may not be a masterpiece, but sometimes writing something simple or off the top of your head can get the creativity flowing through your brain!

You can also study with a songwriting teacher to help get you started as well. When you study with a songwriting teacher, the goal is to help you figure out your “creative style,” give you more tools and ideas, and find a way to get YOUR music onto paper. There’s still plenty of room in the world of music for new ideas, so why not share yours?

Continue learning: Check out these 10 must-read tips for aspiring singer-songwriters!

Post Author: Eric C.
Eric C. teaches saxophone, singing, songwriting, and more in Upland, CA. He mostly performs jazz and has played saxophone for more than a decade. Eric is currently attending Azusa Pacific University to pursue a degree in Saxophone Performance. Learn more about Eric here!

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Quiz: What Should You Write Your Next Song About?

guitar man1
Writing songs is hard enough work without having to deal with songwriters’ block! To help you find inspiration for your next song, we created this easy personality quiz.

Take the quiz and find out what your next hit single will be about…

For more songwriting tips and songwriting prompts, check out our infographic guide 25 Ways to Break Free from Songwriters’ Block! Share your songwriting ideas, struggles, triumphs, and questions in the comments below.

 

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25 Ways to Break Free from Songwriters’ Block

Songwriting Tips- Songwriting Prompts for When You're Stuck

Every songwriter runs into writers’ block at some point in their career. To help you dig your way out of the dreaded doldrums of songwriters’ block, we put together 25 songwriting tips and prompts plus great songs to inspire you.

Check out these songwriting tips and find your muse today!

25-Ways-to-Break-Free-from-Songwriters'-Block

 

Bonus: Take the quiz to find out what you should write your next song about!

Write about your day.

Think your life is boring and you have nothing to say? Check out the lyrics to this Courtney Barnett song and think again. She starts “Small Poppies” by describing a yard and finds unique meaning in those every-day details.

Write about your favorite book.

You don’t need to have a degree in classic literature, and you don’t need to be an overtly bookish artist to pull this songwriting move off. For inspiration, look to Led Zeppelin. Their catalog is full of Lord of the Rings references, especially apparent in songs like “Ramble On”.

Literary references don’t have to stay on the page. Another great track that takes on this prompt is “Soma” by The Strokes. This song walks a line between referencing Brave New World and commenting on contemporary drug culture.

Write about someone from history.

No need to write a history lesson to follow this songwriting prompt. In her song, “Amelia”, Joni Mitchell drew on the amazing story of Amelia Earhart and combined it with a personal story to create a poignant and heartbreaking song.

Write a response to someone else’s song.

Got a song stuck in your head? Maybe you can write a response by taking on the subject of that song from a different point of view. For example, The Mamas & The Papas’ classic “California Dreamin'” is all about feeling restless and wanting to run away to California.

Wolf Parade’s 2008 song “California Dreamer” pulls imagery from The Mamas & The Papas original and tells the story of being left behind in the snow.

Write about something that makes you angry.

Odds are, the things that really grind your gears are super relatable. Tap into your anger and let it all out in a song.

Write about your favorite food.

Feeling hungry? Why not write an ode to your favorite food. “Grilled Cheese” by Cherry Glazerr is a fun and playful display of the band’s teenage attitude and garage-rock vibes.

Write a song with no chorus.

If you usually write songs with a predictable verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, breaking out of that box can be great for your creativity. For song structure inspiration, check out “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, and their full album by the same name.

Use the chord progression from another song.

It’s okay to use the same chord progression as another song that already exists. There are hundreds of songs you can play using just a few chords. Experiment with some common chord progressions and feel free to put your own spin on it!

Write a song for your best friend.

Friends are some of the most special people in our lives, so why not honor your bond with your best bud in song? For inspiration, check out this song by The White Stripes.

Try writing in a different style than you’re used to.

Working in different styles is great way to avoid getting stuck as a songwriter. For example, check out this lovely acoustic song by drone-metal artist Chelsea Wolfe. On her album Unknown Rooms, Wolfe took a detour from her heavier, dronier electric material and wrote a beautiful album on acoustic guitar.

Write about your pet.

You can write a song about your pet without heading into childrens’ music territory. Pinback’s 2001 hit “Penelope” is actually about a pet goldfish.

Make your lyrics a conversation between two characters.

Thinking of a song as a conversation can open up tons of new songwriting possibilities. Even if you’re not as adventurous as David Bowie in his “Space Oddity” days, consider using dialog in your next song.

Write about your favorite holiday.

Holiday music doesn’t have to be sentimental or overly saccharine (unless that’s what you’re going for, of course). Take a cue from Misfits and write your own dark Halloween ballad, or be a trailblazer and write the first song ever about a more obscure holiday.

Write a sequel to one of your own songs.

Do you have a song that people seem to really love? Why not write part two! Ever since the 50s and 60s, pop artists have been following up hit singles with sequels, like Leslie Gore’s follow up to “It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To” entitled “Judy’s Turn To Cry”. Take that, Judy!

Write about someone in your family (you don’t have to tell them).

Family can be wonderful, horrible, comforting, difficult, or all of those things at once. There’s likely a lot of fodder for songs in your family story if you look. For inspiration, check out “Feet Asleep” by Thao, written about the singer’s relationship with her mother.

Write about your fondest memory.

Memories are a rich source of inspiration for many songwriters, so tap into your happiest memories to find your next song. Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath wrote “Come Down” about bathing with her cousins as a small child.

Write about something that scares you.

Fear is a powerful, primal emotion that we all experience. Whether you’re afraid of intimacy, loss, or monsters under the bed, your song about your fear is sure to resonate with many people.

Draw inspiration from your religion or spirituality.

If you’re a spiritual or religious person, you can absolutely find deep inspiration in your faith. Many of Leonard Cohen’s classic songs, such as “Hallelujah”, use religious imagery to illustrate personal stories and feelings.

Write about something in nature.

Get off  your computer, put down your phone, and write a song about something you see outside. Often, when you unplug, you’ll find inspiration is right there waiting for you.

Write about your daydreams.

Dreams and daydreams are great source material for songs! Don’t limit yourself to writing about the real world. You might even find themes from your dreams repeating throughout multiple songs, like Lorde’s frequent references to royalty in her work.

Write about something you regret.

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of or that we would rather not think about. Get in tune with your regrets and you’ll likely find something worth singing about. For inspiration, listen to “Cat’s in the Cradle”, one of the most well-known and haunting songs about regret.

Write about a social issue.

Do you have strong feelings about a social issue, like racial equality, LGBT rights, or feminism? Like Beyoncé, use your music to speak your mind and maybe even inspire change.

Write about the town where you grew up.

Evoke feelings of nostalgia by writing about the town where you grew up. How has it changed since you were young? What do you miss?

Write about the last time you cried.

You might not enjoy dwelling on pain or sadness, but there is something deeply satisfying about a well-written sad song. Check out this song by Angel Olsen for inspiration and try writing an emotional song of your own.

Write about someone or something that always makes you smile.

What makes you happiest? Whether it’s watching your favorite show, going to the beach, or just seeing that special someone, you can put that happiness into a song. The most important thing is to have fun!

For extra help or feedback with your songs, it’s always a great idea to work with a partner or private music teacher who can help you hear your songs in a new way.

What inspires you? Share the odd or interesting things that have sparked your songs in the comments below!

Learn more: Check out our step-by-step guide to songwriting!

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5 Reasons Why Songwriters Should Collaborate

collaborating with other musicians

This article was originally published on Soundfly and is being shared as part of Songwriting Week! Join the conversation on social media (#SongwritingWeek) for even more tips, articles, and resources.

 

So many musicians and songwriters stress the importance of collaboration. But without knowing how collaboration could benefit your work, why would you share an idea you’ve spent countless hours thinking about, only to open yourself up to criticism? As it turns out, all those advice-givers really are on to something — collaboration can tease out new ideas you hadn’t considered before, help you get past roadblocks, and even validate your idea. Here are five reasons why collaboration is one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your art.

1. Collaboration forces you to articulate your ideas to other people.

One of the most difficult parts of being an artist is clearly explaining your ideas so that other people understand them. You may know exactly what you’re trying to tell the audience with that story about your break-up, but the audience may have no idea what you’re referring to. When you talk your ideas out with other people, you can explain the thinking behind them and collectively come up with the clearest way to articulate the idea to others. (And if you need further help developing your ideas, consider signing up for our new songwriting course!)

2. It helps you play to your strengths and accept your weaknesses.

In order to collaborate with other people, you must first understand what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. If you claim to be a world-renowned MC, but you can’t keep a steady rhythm for your life, your project is going to fall apart. If you are up-front about your out-of-whack rhythm skills, you can find a drummer or beatboxer who can improve your project. Bring to the table what you know you’re good at and find a friend who can compliment your weaknesses.

3. It reminds you that your project is part of something bigger.

It can be easy to forget that one section of a song you’re working on is part of a much larger work when you concentrate on it for so long. Working with other people helps you remember that what you’re working on is combined with many other parts to create something wonderful. Check in every once and a while with your fellow collaborators and see where they are in their part of the project. It can inspire you in new ways and help you remember why you’re working so hard on your section. Although everyone is working on something different, having collaborators helps remind you that everyone is working towards one larger goal.

4. You have real deadlines to hit.

When we’re working on something that is only for ourselves, it’s easy to get lost in procrastination. We are only letting ourselves down in these situations, so without a ton of self-drive, a lot of these projects are never completed. When we work with other people, there is a greater sense of deadlines because missing them impacts everyone. If the group sets up a timeline for the project, it will be easier to keep track of deadlines and make sure the project is completed in a timely manner.

5. It’s an easy way to gain fans!!

One of the best benefits of working with other musicians is that you’re opened up to a whole new set of fans! If your sound is similar to, but with a unique spin on the work of the person you’re collaborating with, you’re sure to open up the door to many fans coming your way. People are always looking for new music, and what better way than to find it through their favorite artists?! Even if your acts are completely different, you’ll get your music in front of an audience you never would have found before, and you can bet that fans respect artists that their favorite musicians are into! Sharing fan bases makes for easier collaboration on songs, shows, and many other aspects of your musical career.

We are all still learning as musicians, and what better way than to learn from each other? Collaboration exercises your brain while producing tremendous work. And if it doesn’t work out? Learn from your mistakes this time and try again. Everyone works differently, and before long you’ll find the right type of collaborators for you.

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6 Resources for Creating Your Own Sheet Music

Tips On Writing Your Own Sheet MusicAs you develop your musical skills, you may become interested in writing your own music. While learning to play an instrument and being able to play others’ music is a wonderful skill, nothing compares to creating sheet music full of your own compositions!

As a budding songwriter, you’ll need to add some additional skills to your repertoire. Writing music can be as simple as putting a pen to paper, or you can take advantage of the many songwriting tools technology offers. Whether you’re sketching out notes for yourself, writing the next pop hit, or creating sheet music of arrangements for a big band, the most important step is to just get started.

First: Where to Find Free Blank Sheet Music

The easiest method is the oldest! Nothing beats a crisp blank piece of staff paper as you pick up your pen and begin your musical journey. There are many free resources online for printing blank staff paper. Here are two of the best:

This website allows you to print any kind of blank sheet music for free. No matter what instrument you’re writing for, you can find pre-designed sheet music for it here. They offer blank pages set up for piano and keyboard (grand staff), blank guitar tab, bass clef, blank mandolin sheet music, and even sheet music set-up for choir.

Music-paper.com is a site that not only offers more than 100 different downloadable and printable PDFs of blank staff paper, it also offers information on how to write music! Whether you’re looking for paper to jot down your next pop song or orchestral opus, you’ll find it here for free.

Next: Apps & Programs for Writing Music

Technology has changed the way we do almost everything, and writing music is no exception. Today, there are hundreds of applications and programs that can get you started composing on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone.  They range in price from free to several hundred dollars. Here are some of the best:

MuseScore is a free program that allows you to create, play, and print sheet music. It’s a great alternative to professional notation programs like Sibelius and Finale (see below). Muse Score is available for Mac and Windows along with various open source systems like Linux and Fedora. When you visit the MuseScore website, make sure to take advantage of their online video tutorials to help you get started.

Available for free on the Google Apps store, Music Composer works on your Android smartphone or tablet. It’s an intuitive, easy-to-use application that helps you notate your musical ideas on the go, whenever and wherever inspiration strikes!

It features a notation editor (that supports chords), and easy options to change tempo, clef, key signature, time signature, keys, and instruments. Also, Music Composer comes with 128 instrument sounds built in so you can hear your music played as you write it! When you’re finished composing, you can then export your sheet music as a printable image file or a playable audio file.

Sibelius is the world’s best-selling music notation software used by professional composers, publishers, and advanced music students. It allows you to quickly express and promote your music, allowing you to share both audio and video of your work. It is the fastest, smartest, and easiest way to write music for performance, film, television, or the classroom. It’s a professional tool worth considering if you are serious about composing.

Finale is another professional-level music notation program. Many music programs are drag-and-drop interfaces where you select items from a menu and drop them on the staff, but Finale offers complete freedom and flexibility. It offers extremely realistic playback of your compositions and allows you to print charts and scores.

Finale also offers several lower-priced, upgradable products, including Printmusic (a “lite”version of Finale, at $119.95), which can print up to 24 staves. Another option, Songbook, is a free digital sheet music app for your tablet — great for bringing all of your music to rehearsal on your tablet!

Composing is natural next step as your music skills advances. Whether you take the simplest approach of putting pen to paper, opt for free notation apps, or invest in a professional-level notation program, the key is to just get started! A great way to learn about composition is to work with a qualified teacher. If you already study with one, ask your teacher to help you. He or she can offer insight into the best way to get started and can help you with the learning curve if you choose to use software. Good luck!

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

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Tips for Writing a Song | Starting Songs And Ending Writer’s Block

tips for writing a song

Feeling stuck? Get back on track with these helpful tips for writing a song, courtesy of Perth Amboy, NJ teacher Jeff S...

 

One of the most frequent problems that songwriting students encounter is pushing past writer’s block and generating ideas for new songs. So here are several tips for writing a song that will help you overcome a creative dry spell and get you back to creative productivity.

Start With A Title
Think of some interesting subjects that you think would make good songs. Then come up with a list of catchy song titles for those subjects. Try to come up with titles that tie into your subjects, so that you can clue your listener into the storyline. Example: Your subject is a girl who is madly in love with a guy, but the guy can’t commit himself to her exclusively. Here are some titles based upon this scenario: “I’m Gonna Turn You Around”, “You Don’t Have To Look For Love”, “Won’t Find A Better Love”, “What More Do You Need?”, “I’ll Keep You Happy”, “I Need To Know”. Go ahead and try to add to the list, but a much better idea is to come up with a storyline and then compile a list of titles based on it.

Develop Your Title Or Song Idea And Come Up With One Song Section
Once you get a title that you like, start searching for a good opening line for the first verse. In your brainstorming process, try to do two things: first, offer your listener a clue as to what the song will be about. Second, zero in on the conflict or problem that your storyline presents. Let’s go back to our concept for the song and start developing opening lines, based on the female perspective of the protagonist. Here are some that I came up with: “I wish I knew what I didn’t give you”, “I wish I was the one who was wrapped around your heart”, “It hurts me so bad that my love’s not good enough”. Do you see how these lines set the story up and entice the listener to want to know more and be brought into the reality of the singer? Now, try your hand at some opening lines for Verse 1.

Look for Inspiration In Books, Magazines, or on TV
If you’re having trouble coming up with song titles, go to the library or bookstore or glance through the TV listings (as TV shows frequently title episodes), newspaper, or a magazine. You can’t copyright a title, so don’t think this idea is tantamount to stealing. You can also look through a book of clichés and plug in a new story to an old cliché, or create a new twist on an old cliché by substituting a word. (Example: “Better Love Next Time” is an improvement over the time-worn cliché, “Better Luck Next Time” — but that one has been done already, so try coming up with your own.)

When In Doubt, Brainstorm
If you’re at a standstill with this part of the development process, pull out your thesaurus and your rhyming dictionary. First, however, do a 10-minute brainstorming session to come up with words and phrases that will serve as connectives (i.e. words that relate to your topic). Do not edit yourself, just generate as many as possible, WITHOUT opening up either book. When you’re exhausted or when the 10 minutes end, take a look at your list and start finding rhyming words and synonyms for those words. Remember — select ONLY the words you really like and the ones that you think will fit into your story. Use them to develop verse or chorus lines.

Hopefully some of these tips for writing a song will get your creative juices flowing again!

JeffSJeff S. teaches guitar, ukulele, speaking voice, songwriting, and more in Perth Amboy, NJ, as well as online. Jeff has created and taught songwriting and music business classes at colleges, universities, and music schools throughout the country for many years. Learn more about Jeff here! 

 

 

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Logic Pro Tutorial: How To Create An Audio Slow-Down Effect

Want to add a cool slow-down effect to your music? Learn how in this Logic Pro tutorial from Brevard, NC teacher John C

 

If you’ve listened to popular radio in the past several years, and I’m guessing you have, you’ve heard either a vocal melody line or an instrumental part of a song make a particular effect. Listen to the following Fall Out Boy song and pay attention to the music in the background at 00:27 seconds, again at 1:27, and once again at 2:27:

Did you hear it? That’s the effect I will be teaching you how to do in this article.

How to Get the Effect

Before we jump in, let’s get a couple things out of the way.

First, I want you to understand that this is not the only way you can go about making this effect happen, but Apple has made it easy for us Logic Pro users. This effect we are trying to accomplish is a type of “fade” in Logic, and there are two different areas in Logic where you can accomplish it. One way is with Automation. To get to the automation area in Logic Pro 9 or X, simply hit the letter A on your keyboard and the editing area will change to look something like this:

automation

Automation allows you to draw lines and basically tell the computer when, how fast, and from and to which points to turn a particular knob. That knob could be something as simple as the volume knob on a particular track or something more advanced like the frequency knob of the single band EQ plugin on the track pictured above.

But I’m going to stop there because we are NOT going to use automation to do this effect! Thank goodness, right?

Instead, Logic has something called the Region Inspector. So what on earth is a region? Well, it’s quite simple, really. These little boxes all over the place in the picture below… those are regions.

regions

When you select one or more of these regions, the Region Inspector shows the settings applied to those regions.

The Region Inspector is on the left side of the screen and looks like this:

region inspector

IMPORTANT NOTE
There is a distinct difference between some of the regions shown above. The ones with the dashed lines are MIDI regions. The others are audio regions. These are the only types of regions. The effect we are trying to accomplish in this article does NOT work on MIDI regions.

Final Steps

  • Select one of the audio (not MIDI) regions in your project.
  • Then, in the Region Inspector, expand the “More” section and click on “Fade Out” and change it to “Slow Down”.
  • Double click the zero and type 250 into the field next to “Slow Down” and press Return.

Congratulations, you did it! Now listen to your audio and you’ll hear that audio slow-down effect.

Bonus
Now adjust the “Curve” by dragging up and down on the number next to the word “Curve” (below the “Slow Down” area in the Region Inspector) and notice how the curve of the slow-down effect area changes. Listen to the difference, and then try different combinations of the amount of the slow-down fade and the curve. Have fun!

Oh, and what do you think might happen if you click on the word “Fade In” in the Region Inspector? What’s that you say, a “Speed-Up” effect? Oh yea!

You’ve just learned a pro producers trick. Now… use it with caution.

JohnCJohn C. teaches Logic Pro Software in Brevard, NC. He earned his degree in Songwriting from Berklee College Of Music and is also an Apple Certified Master Pro in Logic Pro 9. Learn more about John here!

 

 

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The Anatomy of a Hit Pop Song [Infographic]

When you’re learning how to write a song, looking at how other songs are structured can be a great place to start. Like looking at a map before you go on a roadtrip, checking out the basic elements of songs you love gives you a sense of how they were written and what you need to do to write a song of your own.

If analyzing all your favorite songs sounds like a daunting task (it is), you’re in luck. The Billboard Experiment wanted to know if there was a formula that could determine which songs would be hits and which songs were destined to flop. They ran the numbers on the top songs on the Billboard Charts since the 1950s, plus information from the Million Song Dataset, to get a high-level look at what goes into a hit pop song.

Of course, this study isn’t the ultimate guide to how to write a song. If everyone followed these rules, we wouldn’t have “Stairway to Heaven” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Standing out from the crowd can make you more memorable as a songwriter, so you might choose to avoid the things you see these popular songs doing.

If you’re just getting started as a songwriter, try writing something simple along the lines of the famous pop songs The Billboard Experiment studied. You don’t have to write a hit on your first try, and you probably won’t. Most songwriting teachers agree that the best way to learn how to write better songs is to start writing now, and keep writing as much as you can. Through dedication and practice, you will find your unique voice as a songwriter, and you’ll only get better from there!

Want to get  your songs heard? Music Gorilla is a leading commercial marketplace for independent musicians worldwide.
They showcase artists from all over the globe and help them get their songs heard and licensed by key players in the television, film, advertising, web, and gaming industries. They’re happy to offer you 10 free credits when you sign up for Artist Membership (which is free!) Credits can be used to submit your material to films, TV shows, commercials and other platforms looking for music.
All you have to do is sign up and send an email to info@musicgorilla.com telling them you came from Take Lessons and they’ll add the credits to your account.

If someone asked you how to write a song, what advice would you give them? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Are You Really Ready To Record Your Song Or Book A Vocal Session?

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Think you’re ready to write your own song and record it? Songwriting can be an arduous process – but seeing the final product is an amazing feeling. Read on for a helpful pre-recording checklist from Perth Amboy, NJ teacher Jeff S...

 

Whether you’re singing your own song or hiring a vocalist to sing on your demo or master, there are many layers of preparation needed to ensure optimum results. Some songwriters like to wing it and hope that things will magically work out because they picked a great studio or have good equipment or simply feel that their song is destined to become a huge hit–or perhaps because they don’t want to risk the vocal performance sounding too rehearsed and stiff. But that mindset, in my opinion, falls under the categories of foolishness, laziness, or wishful thinking. The fact is, there are several questions you need to ask yourself before the recording session begins and prior to a singer stepping behind a mic to cut their vocal. Your sessions will go a lot more smoothly and successfully if you take the time to put yourself and your song through a series of questions.

After you write your song, here’s what to consider before recording it and/or booking vocal sessions:

  • What’s the song structure? Is it a Verse/Chorus song? Verse/Bridge? Does it have a solo section? Trust me–it’s really worth determining the structure well in advance of the session. A little planning time now will save you studio time, money, and aggravation later.
  • What’s the tempo? I would urge you to pinpoint a BPM (beats per minute) setting before you start recording a single note. You can use a metronome to do this.
  • What kind of groove do you want the drums to have? Steady? Relaxed? Frenetic? Edgy? Sparse? Busy? Acoustic? Electric? Electronic? Do you need percussion, too?
  • How long is the song? Have you timed it out (including intro and fade ending)? If it comes in at over five minutes, you should at least consider doing a radio edit of the long version that puts it between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 minutes. Time out your song prior to recording it. Radio and many other end-users for your recording usually don’t respond well to epic-length tracks.
  • What’s the style? Pop? Rock? Country? R&B? Hip-Hop? If you don’t know, you would be wise to get a handle of it before setting foot in the studio.
  • What’s your instrumentation going to be? Are you tracking with live players (and most importantly, are you going to need a live drummer?) or doing a MIDI recording? If you’re using live players, you need to get all your money matters in order prior to booking the session.
  • What’s your budget for this demo or master? (Note: if you’re doing the recording at your own studio and you’re playing and singing everything yourself, then you don’t have to worry about this one.)
  • What’s the best key for this particular song? Determining the key that matches the emotion or storyline is crucial. Once you know that, you can ask the singer you’ve selected if they can sing comfortably in that key. Have a conversation with the singer beforehand about their vocal range and comfort keys. If they can’t reach the notes needed, you will likely need to seek out a different singer or change the key.
  • Is your singer familiar with the song? If you’re not singing on your own song demo or master, make sure to get your vocalist some form of rough recording of the song so they can get acquainted with it beforehand. This way they won’t be coming into the vocal session cold and eat up a lot of unnecessary studio time. Consider recording a “scratch vocal” (i.e. usually a songwriter’s one- or two-take guide vocal that conveys the melody and the mood to the singer).
  • What mood do you want the singer to evoke? Heartbroken? Energized? Reflective? Angry? Happy?
  • Is this recording intended to be a demo or master? For example, should it be a broadcast-quality recording that can be used in film, TV, or a top-notch album? If it’s a master, then everyone’s performance must be great (if not perfect) and the recording quality has to be excellent.

That’s a lot of stuff to think out and plan for, but it will be well worth the time you spend. I hope it leads you to many great recordings and vocal sessions.

JeffSJeff S. teaches guitar, ukulele, speaking voice, songwriting, and more in Perth Amboy, NJ, as well as online. Jeff has created and taught songwriting and music business classes at colleges, universities, and music schools throughout the country for many years. Learn more about Jeff here! 

 

 

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