Hearing Music In Your Head
By Matteo Miller-Nicolato
This is a very interesting topic that I teach at Guitar Lessons San Diego. Most people believe you have to be naturally talented like Mozart or Beethoven in order to write music in your head. Well, this is not really entirely true. Personally, I never had "natural talent" but rather, I had to develop it through years of hard work. Now, writing music in my head is quite simple. So let me share with you some of the things that I've done in order to achieve this...
It all boils down to EAR TRAINING - LISTENING SKILLS!
If you want to be a musician, you must train your ears. I mean, imagine being a writer but not being able to see.... It's silly, but most guitar players never actually practice this. Then they wonder why they are not as good as they want to be.
1. Transcribe Music
Probably one of the easiest places to start is learning how to transcribe music onto your guitar. So you can start with some very simple tunes that you know well (Jingle Bells, Star Spangled Banner, etc). Just figure out how to play these songs on your guitar WITHOUT looking at the tab. Eventually, as you continue to practice this, you will have no problem listening to fast guitar solos and understanding what is happening (and then playing them).
2. Sing Random Scale Intervals
This is something really cool I discovered recently. Instead of singing scales up and down, you will want to use "scale interval patterns" like this:
1-5 1-3 1-6 1-2 1-7 1-4 1-8
Notice how I continuously return to ONE (the root) and then sing each of the other notes in the scale in a random order afterwards. This helps to really be able to open your ears to the sound of the scale, rather than just hearing it up and down all the time.
3. Memorize The Sound of the Intervals
Each interval has a particular sound. You can identify a PERFECT FIFTH because it sounds like the first two notes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Each interval has a song associated with it. I'll give you a few more examples, but you should definitely do a google search and research this more, as well as use songs that YOU are familiar with:
Minor 2nd - Jaws Theme Song
Major 2nd - Happy Birthday
Perfect 4th - Oh Christmas Tree
Perfect 5th - Star Wars Theme Song
Major 6th - Dashing Through The Snow
Minor 7th - Star Trek Theme Song
4. Memorize The Sound of Arpeggios and Chords
You should be able to identify the sound of a major chord, minor chord, augmented or diminished, and at least be able to identify if a chord is altered a little (sus, add, etc). In order to do this, you need to SING and PLAY the arpeggios of these chords.
Sing the notes in a minor chord (1 - 3b - 5... A - C - E)
Sing the notes in a major chord (1 - 3 - 5... A - C# - E)
Sing the notes in a diminished chord (1 - 3b - 5b... A - C - Eb)
5. Sing a Melody, and Play It On The Guitar
You can also try to sing or hum your own melody, just like you might whistle in the shower... haha and then try to figure out what you are humming on the guitar. This is the ULTIMATE mastery of Mind-To-Guitar because when you can immediately play what you are thinking, that is how you write music IN YOUR HEAD.
7. Try to Transcribe a Melody You Know On Paper, Without Your Instrument
This last exercise is pretty insane. It's basically what Beethoven would do. You just need to think of a simple melody (again things like Jingle Bells) and then try to write it ON PAPER without your guitar to help you. Once you have achieved this level of mastery, you will truly be an expert musician.
If you're struggling to understand what all of this means, or how to practice it, I can help you. I teach all of this (and more) at Guitar Lessons San Diego, so if you want to schedule a FREE Introductory Guitar Lesson check out my website and let's start working towards your goals!
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