Developing Musicianship with Garage Band Theory

My son has had an interest in music since he was just four years old. While immersed in a theme study of classical music he stated, “I want to be like Bach. I want to play piano.” His persistence led us to begin private piano lessons with an instructor.

While he was younger, he would spend hours at the piano, practicing the pieces he was working on with his teacher and even composing his own Sonatas and Preludes. Though his knowledge of theory and composition were limited, his eagerness to learn and his ability to pick up new music was remarkable.

Reading sheet music has never been easy for my son. When he was an infant, he was diagnosed with congenital nystagmus, a condition whereupon his eyes move rapidly and uncontrollably from side to side. As my brothers are also afflicted with nystagmus, I had some familiarity with the condition.

His ability to play music has thereby always surpassed his ability to read sheet music. He has thereby learned to play by ear, a skill by which musicians learn to identify, solely by hearing pitches, intervals, melody, chords, rhythms, and other basic elements of music.

Garage Band Theory

We received a copy of Garage Band Theory in exchange for an honest review. I also received monetary compensation for my time spent in reviewing the product.  
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Learn to Play by Ear

When learning a new piece, my son’s piano teacher would first play a few measures herself and after watching carefully, he would imitate the fingering. Within a few tries, he would be able to also match the intervals and rhythm perfectly.

As he got older and he wanted to learn a new song, he would find videos on YouTube and would watch clips over and over until he could play each measure.

He recently took part in his first adjudicated piano recital. One-on-one with a master teacher, his technique, music theory, sight reading, rhythm reading, and repertoire skills were critiqued. In preparation for the Syllabus, my son’s technique and repertoire were determined to be three to four levels higher than his music theory and sight reading skills.

He thereby tested much lower than he could have. In writing a thank you note to his adjudicator, he noted that his goal for 2018 is to test at the higher level. To do so, he needs to bring his theory knowledge up.

Much to our delight, we discovered Garage Band Theory, a book that teaches traditional music theory with the purpose of helping students learn to play by ear.

As students work through the lessons in this massive book, they  develop a solid foundation of practical music theory. This will propel them further as they begin or continue with formal music lessons.

Author Duke Sharp has done a remarkable job of creating a guide that requires no previous musical experience. Best of all, it  is suitable for any instrument.

Garage Band Theory

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Play Multiple Instruments

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media knows that I am a huge Prince fan. His musicianship is unrivaled partly because he was capable of playing just about any instrument.

What I love about Garage Band Theory is that it includes tabs for guitar, mandolin, banjo, as well as piano. It also includes various different scales, arpeggios, and songs. Students can quickly look at the musical staff and see how it relates differently to other instruments.

“Something for every musician at any level. Especially helpful is the musical notation and tablature for a variety of instruments. This book inspires me to learn and practice more.”  ~ Sam Bush

Collaborate with Others

To develop one’s musicianship skills, it is important to play with others. In addition to the many musicians who have played in his live band, Prince made a very large name for himself crafting some of the greatest songs for other artists.

In addition to private lessons, you’ll want to consider group lessons, ensembles, community orchestra. While my son has not yet had the opportunity to play with others, we do plan to join a community orchestra this fall. He’s apprehensive as he fears he is too young but the director and other members are excited for him to take part as they don’t have a pianist.

Learn Music Theory with Garage Band Theory

A professional musician for over 30 years with five CDs to his credit, Duke Sharp has taught music the past decade. He has invested 13 years in writing and editing Garage Band Theory. The definitive DIY guide to learning music theory, it is over 500 pages but is written in a conversational style.

Garage Band Theory will help you:

  • Master the two aspects of playing by memory: understanding what you’re doing and coordinating sound production
  • Analyze what your favorite artists are playing
  • Play any song in any key
  • Anticipate ‘what’s coming next’ — the key skill you need to improvise
  • Figure out chords on your own and play basic progressions for any musical genre

My son is just beginning to invest the time required in learning music theory. The concepts will definitely take time and effort, but with Duke as a mentor, he’ll be jamming in no time.

If you’d like to know more about Garage Band Theory, you can visit Duke’s Garage Band Theory website. You can also follow Duke at the Garage Band Theory Facebook page.

 

What I Learned About Life and Spirituality from Prince

When I heard that Prince had passed away, I was substitute teaching in a kindergarten classroom. My mother-in-law had texted me and I immediately pulled out my phone to confirm. It couldn’t be true.

It was the first time the death of a celebrity hit me in a real and immediate way. There was first disbelief, followed by dread and nausea. I struggled to keep it together until the dismissal bell released me. Then the tears that wrung out of my body were so strong it gave me stomach cramps.Prince Lessons

I drove home and immediately crawled into bed. I got a call from my mom asking if I was okay. She knew my heartache for she had experienced a similar loss when Elvis passed.

I am very grateful that my mother recognized his impact on my life very early. She purchased my first concert ticket for his Lovesexy tour in 1988 and drove seven hours one way to assure I could see him perform live.

“I’m a musician. I am music.” ~ Prince 

I would see him perform once more in Portland in 2004 for Musicology. I had hoped to see his Piano & a Microphone tour in 2016 but missed my chance.

Since his death on April 21, 2016, I have watched numerous video clips of his live performances, interviews, and amateur tour footage that have been shared online. The explosion of material now available have provided his #PurpleArmy with the solace we seek, an opportunity for one more connection with him.

Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents, Mattie Della and John Lewis Nelson, and grandparents were from Louisiana.  His parents separated when he was ten years and he subsequently repeatedly switched homes often as a teen. Yet music was always a strong element in his life.

Prince first began recording in 1975 with 94 East. A year later he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros whereupon they agreed to give him complete creative control.

His talent was limitless. He was a master composer, musician, and revolutionary artist. I dare say there is not a single artist in my lifetime who has influenced the sound and trajectory of music as much as he.

“I’m no different to anyone. Yes, I have fame and wealth and talent, but I certainly don’t consider myself any better than anyone who has no fame, wealth or talent. People fascinate me. They’re amazing! Life fascinates me! And I’m no more fascinated by my own life than by anyone else’s.” ~ Prince

A Legacy of Equality

I first discovered Prince while watching Night Tracks on TBS. They had aired two performances by him back-to-back, Little Red Corvette and 1999. I was immediately attracted to the music and his individuality. He was like no one else. He was different.

“I don’t really care so much about what people say about me. It usually is a reflection of who they are. For example, if people wish that I would sound the way I used to sound, it says more about them, than it does me.” ~ Prince

As the years progressed, his style evolved. Through it all, strong female musicians were an integral part of his band. They were not solely backup singers or dancers (though he did have those as well) but his partners – Wendy Melvoin, Sheila E., Rosie Gaines, and Candy Duffer amongst others.

Emma Garland recently stated that women are generally portrayed as passive objects in music, which is to not exist at all. “With Prince, they were addressed with awe and empathy. He wrote about women as real, powerful, complicated, sensitive, and sexual beings that he could learn from, and who enriched his life.”

Prince_FreeA Legacy of Freedom

He caught the media’s attention early in his career with his stage presence and outrageous costumes. Many of his songs were overtly sexual. Yet, Prince never made any apologies for who he was and always preached that the most important thing is staying true to yourself.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” ~ Prince

He showed me early the power of living one’s life by one’s own rules and no one else’s. He empowered me to walk my own path and to not be persuaded by others to follow the crowd.

Throughout every emotionally difficult time in my life, I’ve sang the lyrics to his songs in my mind. Repeating stanzas like a mantra. The song that had the biggest impact on me was most assuredly Free (lyrics shown above).

A Legacy of Compassion

Prince was also a secret philanthropist, supporting causes including youth empowerment, animal rights, racial justice, and clean energy for all. His compassion for the others was an important part of his legacy.

“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.” ~ Prince

The legendary musician was renowned for speaking out on behalf of those who were vulnerable and voiceless. According to federal tax forms, his charity, Love 4 One Another, gave more than $1.5 million between 2005 and 2007 alone.

A new mural of Prince has been unveiled from 10:10 on Vimeo.

The climate charity 10:10 recently commissioned a new mural in honor of Prince’s contributions to environmental causes in Camden, north London. The mural kicks off their six-week campaign to provide solar panels to food banks and charities – groups that reflect the commitment to community, creativity and humanity that Prince demonstrated in life with his secret philanthropy.

“If you ever lose someone dear to you, never say the words, ‘They’re gone.’ They’ll come back.” ~ Prince

When he gave, he made only one request, to not publicize it. He wanted no publicity or accolades for the gifts he bestowed. Many of those who were impacted by his generosity only began sharing of his compassion after he had passed.

A Legacy of Love

Throughout his career, he brought cultures together. Uniting sexes and working to instill his message of love for one another. His fans or #PurpleArmy continue to share his vision.

Spirituality has always been a part of his music. Prince’s musical and lyrical explorations of spiritual themes are evident in each and every album he released. More importantly, he embodied and lived by his spiritual principals.

So many reasons why
There’s so many reasons why
I don’t belong here
But now that I am I
Without fear I am
Gonna conquer with no fear
Until I find my way back home

~ Prince, “Way Back Home”

When I think of Prince, both his music and his life overall, I don’t so much think about religion. When I think of him, I think of love—not romantic or sexual love—but unconditional, human love. A love that transcends gender, race, or religion. A love not limited to one’s family, social circle, community or nation. A love we are most in need of cultivating if we are to grow and evolve.

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