The Seven Musical Myths Examined
Myth is always all around us in the world of Music Lessons, so are opinions as to what is the best way to go about learning to play an instrument. Much has been written on the subject of how to learn to play an instrument, and passionate opinions abound. It is in this whirlpool of very strong opinions that I offer to take on Seven Musical Myths pertaining to learning to music lessons. Let me begin by saying that these thoughts are my opinion, however, you can judge for yourself my conclusions. My hope is that and at least a discussion can begin to bring out a consensus.
MUSICAL MYTH #1
The first misconception is perhaps the most obvious; You either have the ability/aptitude to play music or you don’t. Many people believe they could never play an instrument, because some other relative or stranger was given that gift – not them. “I’m no Paul McCartney,” they say. The sentiment is that the music gene skipped them and went to someone else. This musical myth is pervasive amongst many people who were not raised with musical involvement in their family. The fact remains that everybody has some level of musical aptitude. As human beings we are born with the need to express ourselves musically. From tapping a set of pencils on a desk to singing in the shower, “the music is in you.”
To prove this point, I offer the following scenario. You cannot go very long, perhaps half of an hour without music finding its way into your mind. Really? Oh yeah, think about it. Try a musical fast if you will. Try to go one day without any form of music in your life. Let’s see, we could go into a sensory deprivation chamber turn out the lights and close the door. The next thing you know, your humming, “Puff the Magic Dragon,” or the theme song from your favorite TV show. In fact, you could go to Walmart or a doctors office and what do you hear? … music. Even in the elevator! Music is everywhere and it is even in the deepest depths of your soul. The issue is not that you can’t create music, the problem is that you may need a little help building on your already present natural ability. Just as every human being has music in them, everyone has a certain amount of natural ability to make music. What we perceive as the ability in others to make music, is the level they possess of sheer natural ability, or their natural ability coupled with training and practice to make great music. Either way, all human beings are musical.
Since learning to play an instrument or music lessons are primarily composed of muscle memory and fine motor skills, applying your level of natural ability (no matter the quantity) results in the ability to make music. Muscle memory and fine motor skills are gained through repetitions – practice. The more repetitions that you do, the easier fine motor skills and muscle memory is gained. Therefore, since everyone has natural musical ability on some level, anyone can achieve the ability to sing or play a musical instrument. If you perform the required repetitions you will gain the level of skill which you are seeking. So, logically the music is already in you. Everyone has some level of natural musical ability, and practice provides the fine motor skills and muscle memory needed to play or sing.
In Part 2 of MUSICAL MYTH BUSTERS we will take on the concept of practice and examine if music lessons are a “help” or a “hinderance.”
Singing, you just do it, right? You either can or can’t, right? Well, I’ll tell you that once you begin to study the concept of using your voice, you soon realize many people are mistaken. Although we are born with a voice, it doesn’t always lend itself to beauty in all people. However, if you understand the dynamics of learning to sing properly, and put in a bit of practice, your voice can become a thing of beauty.Many folks don’t think of their voice as a “real” instrument.
Training your voice is a combination of physical and mental components that work together to form a pleasing sound.
There are many aspect of singing which require muscle memory and physical control of different parts of your body. There are also other aspects which require mental focus. For example, if I were to choose to sing in a more nasal tone ( something along the lines of Dolly Parton, Kelly Pickler, etc. ), it would require focusing mentally on sending the air forward through my nasal passages. So, physically I’m not lifting my soft palate, but mentally I would be focusing on vocalizing forward ( directing the air flow through the front of my face ). This combination of physical and mental elements produces a nasal tone. A good example of this type of technique used in a performance is the song “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland.
The mental and physical aspects are involved with good singing and matching pitch.
The most important part of singing well is matching pitch, or vocalizing the correct notes. In order to properly match pitch, you have to utilize the mental and physical aspects when you sing. You see, each song has a musical key that it is written in, and the notes which fit that particular key are limited. Therefore, you have to be able to stay in the range of the key in order to make the outcome pleasurable. To sing good, you must 1.) Focus and 2.) Support. Focusing your tone involves the physical control of your mouth, tongue, jaw, face, cheeks, soft palate, and your head. Support aids in getting the air through a breath and what you do with it once you get it. Basically, support involve things like breathing, posture, and core support.
There are some limitations you need to be aware of to make you the best you can be.
People often wonder, ( hopefully they know accurately ), to what category of singer does their voice best lends itself. Are you a Soprano, Alto, Tenor, or Bass? The proper assessment of your vocal part is a combination of Range, Tone, and Register Breaks. The benefit of knowing your voice part and range will help you choose songs which best suit your voice. The object here is to sing songs which are in keys which compliment your voice.
This information is just the beginning to your journey.
Hopefully, you can get an appreciation for these specific aspects of using your voice to make beautiful music. Once you realize what is involved when you sing, hopefully you can understand that, yes, everyone can “make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” but relating your voice as pleasurable to your fellow man may require a bit more effort. If you are interested in knowing more, or taking voice lessons with us please call (850) 453-9966. Keep on making beautiful music!
Written by Mrs. Kyle A. Kaye, B.M.E. & Ron Kaye