Whether you are a total musical beginner or an advanced player looking to refine your skills check out these learning methods below for a selection of tried and tested ways to expand your musical knowledge.
Learn by doing
This method, also known as "immersion learning" and "experiential learning," is the idea that you learn best by doing. If you want to learn how to play an instrument for example, sit down with it and try playing one. Get comfortable with its shape, weight and feel in your hands. How does it sound? Are there notes you can't produce? Write them down so you know what to practice. This process can be sped up by finding a good music tutor.
Learn by listening
To learn music, listen to it. Even if you aren't taking a class on how to play an instrument or read sheet music, the more you listen to songs in genres you enjoy and those that are new to you, the better chance you have of developing a sub-conscious understanding of musicality.
Don't feel like paying attention? Listen while doing other things like running errands or working at your computer. You will still absorb sounds around you even if your mind is elsewhere and it can be fun when another sound comes out of nowhere that gives you a surprise jolt!
Learn by reading
There are plenty of written resources that can help with your musical knowledge. For example:
Read a biography of your favorite artist. Find out how they learned their craft and what you can learn from that process.
You could also read theory books. If you want to know the ins and outs of music, there are plenty of books that can teach you about rhythm, meter, chord structure, and much more.
Try reading a music dictionary. These offer definitions of important musical terms—words like "capo" and "tonic"—and explanations of concepts related to music (like dynamics or intervals). With this kind of knowledge under your belt, the mechanics of music will become easier to understand as you progress in your studies.
Read a songbook. Songbooks contain lyrics along with chords for playing the song on certain instruments (typically guitar), so it's possible to learn both aspects at once when starting out with learning songs by ear or from sheet music.
Learn by creating
If you want to learn music, you could try making your own music. For example, if you want to play guitar, try composing your own songs, create your own melodies and riffs. If you want to produce EDM music with Ableton software, create your own chord progressions, lyrics, beats and rhythms. If you want to improve as a bassist and be in a band, create your own bass lines and practice them. This is an effective way of learning a musical instrument or genre as you get to grips with its nuances.
Learn by making mistakes
It's ok to make mistakes — mistakes are a learning opportunity, a chance for growth. Sometimes when you're trying new things and exploring them, you'll flounder and get overwhelmed. That's ok — just take a breather and keep going! Mistakes are a sign that you are trying and growing and becoming a better musician.
The best way to learn is diving in and trying.
In the end, the best way to learn is to just start. There are many methods you can use to learn, including taking lessons from a tutor, but trying out new things is the only way to truly make progress as a musician.
Failure is an important part of the learning process. You have to try something in order for it to work! If at first you don't succeed, try again! Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you'll become over time. Trust the process.
If you need any further guidance, do get into contact with me, Iona Catherine, here at learnhowtomusic.com. I would love to hear about what you want to learn next. And don't forget to join the mailing list to keep up to date with all my latest blog posts.