Do you ever get frustrated because you just can’t seem to produce that sound you’re trying to emulate in your DAW?
Or when that spanking new tune you were so excited about ends up sounding pretty flat?
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, writing the same track over and over again, struggling to break that glass ceiling to make each one of them sound original and amazing?
That’s fine, it happens to all of us from time to time. It’s nothing to worry about.
All that means, my dear friend, is it might be time for you to get out of your comfort zone and shake things up a bit in the studio!
Just a sign that it may be time for you to mix things up a bit and get some outside help!
Fret not, fellow musician, for what I propose is 100% free, 100% quality and 100% guaranteed to take your music to the next level.
SOOOO…. Here’s my solution….
If you want to kick it up a notch and improve your songwriting skills, music production skills and general creativity skills, you’re going to spend some time to STUDY YOUR CRAFT!
Ok so you didn’t enjoy school and you don’t like homework. That’s ok! BUT, being a musician is a constant work in progress and, the more you practise, learn new stuff and explore the world, the better you’ll become in the music studio.
Making money making music is not an easy gig. There’s a lot of work involved and, simply put, if you don’t work like crazy on your craft, you’re going to struggle even more than the rest of us indie musicians who are willing to put in the work!
The overnight successes romanticized on TV shows are anything but! I can GUARANTEE you that even the least talented of all talent-show winners has worked his or her ASS off to get there.
Sometimes literally :p
Anyway, that’s beside the point. I digress….
Let’s get back to business!
You need to realize that 87% of successful music producers know SOME music theory (ok I just made that up but I can’t be that far off!).
Even the ones you wouldn’t normally peg for big intellectual theorists like:
- the guys from Metallica talking music theory
- Avicii discussing musical influences and theory
- Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are both better musicians than they let out
- Justin Bieber can play the drums!
Even Eminem, who’s a natural, sure as hell knows plenty about poetry, flow and rhyming patterns!
With that in mind, I urge you to get rid of any negative assumptions you may have about online courses or academia or homework and take a look at these 9 free online music courses.
You’ve got nothing to lose except maybe 30 minutes of your time checking out the syllabus for each course and picking one that’s appealing to you.
There is NO DOUBT these music courses will help you break out of your creative box and reach new heights in the studio. That’s what we’re aiming for here, right?
Option #1 – Learning a Bit of Music Theory
Berklee is an amazing school based in Boston. Their online music school is also incredible. Online course platform edX offers this introductory music theory course for free. It’s 6 weeks long and requires a commitment of 3-5 hours per week.
You can join Charles Darwin, Arthur Conan Doyle and David Hume as alumni of The University of Edinburgh for free! Yey! ?
Here’s a free music theory course hosted by my favorite online course platform ever (Coursera).
If you have no clue where to start with music theory, these are great courses to take. You’ll learn about scales, harmony, rhythm, modes, arrangements, etc. All good stuff to know.
If you’re an intermediate in music theory, it’s an opportunity to brush up on your knowledge and get some new ideas to try out in the studio.
Side note – Coursera offers course certificates which you have to pay for BUT that’s optional. You can have all the good stuff for free. Select the “Full Course, No Certificate” option when you enroll (or you can purchase the course to earn a certificate if that floats your boat, whatever works for you)
Option #2 – Learning From the Best
Aside from practising, practising, practising, the easiest way to make giant leaps in your music making is to study the best.
Understand what others did and you’ve got a clear roadmap of what you should try next in your own music compositions.
Option #3 – Getting Weird and/or Out of Your Comfort Zone
Want to study music as biology? Yep, you can do that!
Wait whaaaaat? Yeah yeah, this one is a weird one. More documentary, less improving your music production skills.
I’d recommend enrolling BUT skipping videos that bore the crap out of you. I LOVE this kind of things but if you don’t have the time or energy to geek out on this, DON’T!
I’d still explore the section on cultural differences if I were you. There has to be something in there that inspires you to try something new in the studio 😉
Or you could get your jazz on and learn to improvize!
Honestly, even if you hate jazz, TRY IT!
It’s not often you get a chance to learn from A TRUE GREAT like Gary Burton!
His delivery is a bit dry but boy oh boy is he good. He’s a brilliant musician and he teaches at Berklee. What else do you want? Seriously, he’s played with Chick Corea!
Jazz is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a great genre to explore if you’re looking to make giant leaps in your music writing.
Gary’s class is pretty high level so if you’ve never tried improv before, you might want to start with the the Jazz Appreciation class on edX.
The blues is another great traditional genre that can greatly open your musical horizons, especially if you’ve rarely steered away from electronic music. The University of Rochester offers a free 7 week course that will help you understand and perform blues music. It’s both theoretical and practical so you won’t be bored 😉
Ok, there were a LOT of recommendations in this post!
Here’s what to do next: pick one and ONLY ONE and go register NOW!
And don’t forget to experiment in the studio! That’s what being a musician is all about 🙂
Now…. just because I loved my “Penny Lane” joke so much, I’ll leave you with this: