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Musicians, Not Theorists, Issue #004 -- Private Lessons and Chords
June 20, 2016

"Musicians, Not Theorists" gives you the information you need about the practical uses for music theory. With today's range of musical styles, the possibilities are endless. I'll show you the ways of chord building and scale finding. Learn the rules and why it's ok to break them. Explore new musical phrases to boost your creativity.

Table of Contents

  1. Website Update: New Article and New Content from Readers!
  2. Lesson: Finding the Relative Minor/Major
  3. Quiz: Rhythms
  4. Practice Tips

First off, it's good to be back! I've taken a while off to teach a lot of lessons, play a lot of shows, do a little video work, and some international touring! It's been great fun, but it's time to get back to the MTFM website for while! Let's dive in!

News: New Article and New Content from Readers!

New Article on Transposing

I've posted a new article on How to Transpose Music. This may sound familiar because I already have an article on the website on how to Transpose Chords, but this new article is about how to transpose the notes of a melody. Warning: it does assume that you know how to read a little bit of music, but it doesn't require it! If you can't read, just follow the instructions on your instrument and don't worry about the written music for now. When you're ready to get started reading though, head over to the section on Reading Music!

New Content from Readers!

We have some new tips from our readers!

One is from Ella in Orlando, FL, about how to learn a piece of music more easily by starting at the end of it.

Another that I really like comes from Jess in Madison, MS, about how to use the Circle of Fifths and the Nashville Number System together!

Lesson: Finding the Relative Minor/Major in a Particular Key

One of the most common quick-questions that I get is "What is a relative minor?" The answer to that is a little difficult to explain, and not what this lesson is about, but basically the relative minor is the minor key that has the same notes as the major key we're playing in.

For example, a D major scale has the notes D E F# G A B C# and D, while a B minor scale has the notes B C# D E F# G A and B. See how they're actually the exact same scale, just in a different order? That's what we call relatives. So B minor is the relative minor of D major, and D major is the relative major of B Minor.

However, that's not all we're talking about today. Most of the time when we talk about finding the relative minor, it happens to be about the "relative minor chord." This is actually pretty simple to do.

Finding the Relative Minor Chord in a Major Key

To find a relative minor chord, we basically just go to the 6th degree of the scale (or the 6th note in the scale) and make a minor chord out of it. So for the key of D, we could count D E F# G A B! and our relative minor chord is a B minor chord. In the key of Eb, we would count Eb F G Ab Bb C! and our relative minor chord is C minor.

Finding the Relative Major Chord in a Minor Key

To find the relative major chord in a minor key, it's the same process, but we count to the 3rd scale degree. So for the key of B minor, we would count B C# D! and our relative major chord is D major. In C minor, we would count C D Eb! and our relative major chord is Eb major.

That's pretty much all there is to it! Try finding the relative minor/major in all 12 keys for good practice! If you have any questions about it, just reply to this email and I'll see if I can help you out!

Rhythm Quiz

We haven't done a Rhythm Quiz yet, so I thought I'd throw one in this time for you! Just count, clap, or play these rhythms a few times until they feel comfortable.

Rhythm exercises like this can be great for your sight reading. Most of the time we look at music and practice reading the pitches and rhythms at the same time, but it's incredibly useful to separate them and practice them individually as well! If you'd like to hear the answers or would like help with these, simply reply to this email and let me know.

Practice Tips

-Practice Playing at Different Volumes: This is more of an intermediate or advanced practice tip, but it's one that beginners can get an early start on too, and one that can really make your playing sound SUPER sophisticated. Some people practice this already; if so, good for you! If not, here's a secret weapon for you! Basically, this involves just getting used to playing things at different dynamic levels.

  1. Take one song and play the whole thing as quietly as you possibly can and really get into the feeling of playing super quiet and subdued.
  2. Then take the same song and play the whole thing as loud as you possibly can, and really get into the feeling of playing with a grand, powerful tone.
  3. Then play the song again but really listen and feel for places that seem like they should be louder or quieter, and change your dynamics accordingly.

This will do two things for you: it will dramatically increase your control over your instrument, and it will give you greater insight and awareness of the music you are playing so you can play it with more passion and excitement. This is one of the main differences in the musicians you listen to who are just ok, and the ones who really rock!

Go check out the Practice Tips page and write your own. You might get featured in next month's newsletter! Thanks for reading guys, and keep playing!!

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