What Is Spiritual Music?

imagesI grew up with barbershop quartet music in the house. My mom is an incredible singer and at the time had been a member of the Sweet Adeline Chorus. They also had quartets and they would compete a few times a year. If you know anything about this style of music, it is very unique with old school songs and amazing harmonies. The problem was that at 13 years old, I hated it! I promised myself that I would never sing or make music of any kind. Go figure, because years later that’s exactly what I did. But, being a rock n roll spiritual singer was definitely not being in barbershop quartets.

I fell into inspirational/spiritual music after a long stint with numerous rock n roll/ pop bands. They were all fun but most of the time the audience had no idea what I was singing about because the drums were too loud! Aha! I was singing darker lyrics about relationships gone wrong. Ah, the mystery, or not, of failed relationships. After actively following a spiritual path and doing the inner work required to evolve, I met the man of my dreams and the sad love songs stopped. But with this new found joy and inner peace came new songs of hope and love. I began writing from a sense of ‘life can be better’ and ‘how can I serve humanity’? I asked myself hard questions like what do I stand for? What is my life purpose? What is the vision for my life? Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, my guru, has assisted me exponentially with these questions. Being an avid follower of his message and attending service at The Agape International Spiritual Center has been key to most of my recent transformation.

Well, I can tell you that now I’m living a life of freedom. The message in my music is encoded with freedom, joy, transformation and evolution. It is for the people who actively want to know how to be their best self and how they can live their dreams. I call it spiritual music or even inspirational music. For me this kind of music involves meditating on my highest potential and channeling the messages forward into sound and word. My intention is to inspire the listener to a point where they can no longer ignore their purpose and true calling. This is out of the comfort zone for some people. I understand… but why are we really here? Why are we living these dynamic lives that we lead? There are answers and usually they are found within the person asking the questions.

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The Basic Tricks When Learning the Piano

When you are learning the piano for the first time, it may seem a little hard to understand all the terminology. From scales to chords, it may seem almost overwhelming since most people just need to know some basic stuff and they’ll be playing piano in no time.

However, there are some tricks when learning the piano that can help you:

* Learn your music theory:

I’m sure you weren’t expecting this one. Learning theory when you just want to sit on the bench in front of the piano and start playing? Well, only by understanding some of the theory you will be able to evolve and become a better pianist. You don’t have to dig it all in, but knowing some of the theory will help you play any music you want.

* Listen to a lot of piano music:

When you are learning the piano, you have to train different things. You train your eyes to read, you train each one of your hands to play the piano, but you also need to train your ear. You need to be able to identify the notes that are being played.

What you can do, for example, is to get a piano music CD and just listening to it. You can start by trying to identify the notes. As soon as you evolve, you can try to identify chord patterns and intervals.

When you do this the first time, you might be able to identify only a couple of notes. But as time goes by, and you’re developing your hearing, you’ll start identifying more notes, the chords, and the intervals.

* Don’t try to learn the whole song at once:

Just like when you’re listening to the CD, you need to take it easy. You won’t figure it out all at once. Take time to learn the song you want to play and try to play it. You can even break it into small sections so it may become easier for you.

Again, it’s a matter of practicing.

* Learn your scales but don’t get obsessed by them:

Scales and theory go hand-in-hand. Scales will help both your fingers know the piano as well as you’ll have more dexterity. However, don’t make the scales be a huge priority. Yes, you need to practice them every day but they can serve as a warm-up before you start playing the piano. You can be sure that is perfectly normal if you get them wrong a couple of times. As you improve, your scales will improve as well.

Make sure that you start playing your scales slowly at first. With time, you’ll get faster. The important thing is to keep practicing.

There are mainly two kinds of pianists: those who play by ear and those who play by sight. But no matter of which pianist you want to be, all these tricks can and should be used.

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3 Mistakes You Must Avoid When You Learn To Play Scales On Guitar

You probably already know that scales are important for your guitar playing, but very few guitar players know how to practice scales correctly. This makes it hard to improvise guitar solos and limits how good of a guitarist you become.

Here are 3 big mistakes you must avoid when you practice scales on guitar:

Mistake #1. Learning Without Application

Learning more scales doesn’t make you a better guitar player – applying the scales you know on a deeper level does.

When you learn any new scale, learn how to improvise with it and become familiar with its sound. Listen to guitar players who use this scale, create your own guitar licks with it and learn how this scale is applied in songs you love. When you feel confident enough with a scale to use it in improvising, you have mastered it on a deep enough level to learn another scale if you wish.

Note: this does NOT mean you must only practice one scale for years… just don’t overwhelm yourself with dozens of scales you never learn how to use.

Mistake #2: Learning Scales In 1-2 Positions On Guitar

Do not make the same mistake as most guitarists by overwhelming yourself with tons of new scale patterns in only one or two positions. To master any new scale, you must learn to play it all over the fretboard. Getting stuck playing scales in 1-2 areas on the guitar severely limits your creativity.

To avoid this problem, you must consistently practice fretboard visualization. Visualize the guitar neck as ONE giant scale pattern and learn to navigate it fluently.

Warning: many systems for learning scales make this step very hard (more on this below). Work with a proven guitar teacher to learn how to visualize scales easily and fast.

Mistake #3. Not Following An Effective Process For Learning Scales On Guitar

You must have an effective process for: learning, visualizing and applying any new scale in your guitar playing.

Do NOT assume that “any system for learning scales is equally valid”. Many systems for learning scales on guitar are incomplete and damaging to your progress. The CAGED system is one such system. Using it creates A LOT of problems in your guitar technique and musical creativity.

Learn why the CAGED system sucks and what you should do instead to master scales on guitar. Avoid these mistakes in your guitar practicing and you will become a better guitarist and musician a lot faster.

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How Directional Picking Makes Playing Guitar Fast Much Easier

Using efficient picking technique is the key to making fast guitar playing feel easy. Directional picking removes a lot of the struggle to play guitar fast. How? The picking motions used with this technique are smaller and quicker – giving you more speed with less effort.

Main Question: “Tom Hess, doesn’t directional picking only work if I am using 3-note-per-string scales? What about scales that only use 2 notes on a string… 4 notes, etc.?”

Answer: Directional picking technique will work in all cases. The main principle of directional picking is to use the shortest route from one note to the next. Occasionally this means using alternate picking. Sometimes, this means to only use sweep picking and NOT use alternate picking. By combining both mechanics together, you will achieve the fastest speed possible with the least amount of effort.

The core principle of strict alternate picking is to alternate pick regardless of the context… even if it means picking in a very inefficient manner. This causes you to put out MORE effort to achieve less speed.

To master directional picking, you need to integrate sweep picking and alternate picking together. When you practice 3-note-per-string scales, you force yourself to isolate this aspect of playing and master it much faster.

Here are 5 steps to help you master directional picking with 3-note-per-string scales:

1. Focus Exclusively On The Picking Motion

Start by muting all the strings with your fretting hand. This will keep them from creating a lot of noise while you pick. This is crucial for programming the correct picking motion into your picking hand in the early stages of learning this technique. Do the following:

-Pick an upstroke on the muted 1st string (the thinnest string).

-Play a downstroke on that string.

-Play another upstroke on it and pull the hand back towards the B string using ONE sweep picking motion. Pick an upstroke on the B string.

-Play a downstroke on the B string.

-Play an upstroke on the B string again, repeating the same sweep picking motion before towards the G string. Play an upstroke on the G string.

-Keep playing this pattern to complete the rest of the scale.

2. Play With 3-Note-Per-String Chromatic Runs

Once you can pick through the string transition in isolation, start playing 3-note-per-string chromatic runs. For instance: use only your first three fingers to play frets 1, 2 and 3 on every string. This simultaneously trains your 2-hand synchronization skills while maintaining your focus entirely on your picking hand motion.

3. Make The Picking Motion Second Nature Through Continuous Repetition

To form a new habit, you’ll need to train yourself to use the right motions. Focusing intensely gets you through this phase faster. Focus on:

-Using Correct Pick Position: Hold the pick higher up to expose more of its surface area and dig it down deeper into the strings. Don’t merely use the tip. This makes the notes louder without having to pick harder.

-Using Correct Pick Angle: Pick the strings at a 45-degree angle. This will make picking easier and give you a nicer tone.

-Using Strong Articulation: Use more force to pick in order to give the notes more articulation and bring out inconsistencies in your 2-hand synchronization.

4. Put Directional Picking In Context Using Scales

Start practicing any scale you can play using directional picking. Being able to play string changes on 3-note-per-string chromatics helps you play any 3-note-per string scale effortlessly and fast.

5. Use Proven Speed Building Strategies To Become An Even Faster Player

You must have great technique before you can play at super-fast speeds with little effort. You must also have effective and proven speed building strategies that help you achieve your guitar speed potential.

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How To Find The Best Songs

If you clicked on this article that means you are curious about where to find the best music or you just did it by accident. Oh well, you are here now so you might as well stay right? Great, because you’re about to find out how to find the best songs. What I mean by best songs is personal to me and it will be different for you as well. You have had a different life than I, and we may also hear things a bit differently. A bad song to one person could be someone else’s favorite song. The best songs for me may not be the best songs for you, but that is what makes music so great! Now that you see the surface I am going to give you a few steps you can take that could help you find the best songs out there.

The first step you can try is changing your radio station or playlist that you listen too. If you listen to the same set of songs from the same genre all the time you are definitely missing out on some quality music.

There are a lot of different kinds of music in this world and all have something unique to offer. Try changing your radio station to the first song that comes on. Even if you do not like it stay on that station until they have played at least five different songs. If at that point you still are not satisfied with the songs move to the next one and repeat this process as often as you can. If you do not listen to the radio and prefer getting your music online then switch up the websites you are surfing. Or if you are like me just start clicking deep into YouTube, you will definitely find some gems there.

Another step you can take is searching a certain word and listening to every song that comes up with that word! This is particularly great for those of you who use streaming sites or for those of you who blog and use YouTube frequently. It can be really fun picking a random word and seeing what comes up. I sometimes like to scroll all the way down to the bottom and start listening to the last five down there and then work my way up. I would encourage you to use unique words though, simply typing in “you” or “the” will not be as enjoyable of an experience as would be typing in something more original. Places like iTunes and Spotify are ideal spots to do this. Apple’s endless catalog will make sure that you find a great song. I have had a lot of fun in my down time by using this step. There are billions of words so be sure to explore even if it is not English. Use French words and Spanish words to shake things up!

This next step is one that not many people like to do. However, I have found in my music experience that this step can go a long way. Listen to a song again even if you do not like it at first. If you are still unsure listen again. Are you still not sure? One more time. Listen to it until you are truly sick of it. By no means force yourself to like a song, just be willing to give it another chance. Sometimes it can take a few days to fully digest a song and hear everything in it. I find this tactic very useful as far as complete albums go. Most of the time an artist will have albums that contain at minimum ten songs and at maximum twenty songs. This is a lot of music and a full album cannot be fully listened to in one sitting. Sometimes full albums might take weeks to set in and you will realize yourself starting to like a song that did not really catch your ear at first. Do not be so quick to judge a song; sometimes you need to just keep listening. Combining the last step and this step makes a great tool to finding new music you never thought you would listen to and you end up loving it.

The last step here is a simple one. Have your own opinion. I have met way too many people that will pretend they like a song just because everyone else does. I strongly encourage you guys not to be this way. Like what you like and don’t like what you don’t like. Just because a song is the “most popular” song at the moment does not mean you have to like it. Have an opinion that is truly yours. Music is made for the individual and this is the key to understanding how to find the best songs for you.

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Musical Impact on Culture

I love music. There is so much beauty and culture to be found in varying genres of music. Of course, we all have different tastes. I personally am quite partial to what is commonly known as “Indie” music. Artists like Lighthouse and the Whaler, Young the Giant, and Chet Faker dominate a large portion of my car time. I have friends who are more partial to country music, favoring relatable lyrics and catchy melodies. My own brother enjoys the incredibly rhythmic properties of rap and hip-hop. Even within these categories, there are thousands of sub-categories with tens of thousands of artists all with varying degrees of fandom. These fans swear by their taste in music and often belittle those who like anything else. Why is that?

I had a friend in high school who grew up in a very musical family. His mother and sister are both very talented singers and his father composed and recorded music for years. He played in concert band for much of his schooling and is an insanely good drummer. He has a rich background in music, but would often swear that rap and hip-hop do not qualify as music. This style was foreign to him. He did not enjoy it and did not see how it pushed forward music as an art form. It had no relevance to his culture, so he disregarded it.

Music has the unique property of being a sort of second language for a subculture. Rap and Hip-Hop are commonly tied to urban areas and lower-income upbringings. Country music is often played in the Midwest and South. This music provides us with an easy way to relate to each other and to interact on an emotional level with strangers. It can provoke a vast array of emotions from sadness and anger to affection and joy. I hear it often said that artists are influencing youth culture, but I would propose the exact opposite is true. Popular music is a reflection of the culture that produces it.

My friend grew up in a middle-class household surrounded by classical music. Rap was simply not relatable to him. However, my hope is that as he grew up, he recognized that what is often being rapped about in these songs is actually an amazing window into a different culture. Music is an incredibly easy, accessible way to learn about other cultures. I believe that, given the proper exposure, it could be one the most unifying tools our generation has to offer.

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Importance Of Music Education In School

Music has been an essential part of almost every culture. In fact when we talk of any culture, music is one of the things that distinguishes each community and society from each other. So, undoubtedly, music is what makes every culture even richer. And what would be a better way to teach your children about different cultures? It is not only about learning cultures, it is about developing an attitude, cognition, and maintaining the emotional and psychological balance through music. There are many studies that have proven how beneficial music could be in the overall development of kids. Many parents and schools believe that learning music is fruitless, but some studies have shown the direct connection between learning music and better academic performance. According to experts, students who were exposed to music lessons in childhood are more likely to score higher in math, languages, and science. It is because music contains all of the aforementioned factors. To know how music impacts the emotional and psychological development of your child, read further.

Personal and Emotional Development through music:

You might have spent more than half of your energy teaching discipline, cooperation, values in life, and other social skills to your kids in various ways. But a simple music lesson can teach them all of these valuable lessons. Children are most likely to take time for music classes, especially, when they are learning with other peers. It is highly likely that they would do this for other subjects. Music helps them become self disciplined, organized, coordinated, and cooperative. When they are learning in a group they also learn about team work, reliability, taking responsibility, and being accountable, etc. Apart from this, children get an opportunity to learn about the history of music, artists, different instruments, different types of music and the elements of music. They also discover how to make new instruments, how to repair instruments, and much more. This certainly adds to their knowledge and takes them closer to the lives of artistic people who can provide them with valuable insights on life.

Music in itself is a form of self-expression and creativity which imparts complex thinking abilities in children, which in turn, improves their cognitive abilities. With music it is easier to think about abstract things as it improves the imagination when one tries to invent or create his own tune or learning the old ones. So music is also a great way to express oneself which can help in reducing the emotional and psychological stress. In fact there are so many psychologists who use ‘music therapy’ to treat patients with mental disorders. Hence, music is plausibly the only tool that can provide your brain and mind with exercise as well relaxation. Apart from this, music can serve as one of the ways to boost a child’s self-esteem, especially someone who is poor in academic subjects. Imagine playing violin or singing a solo song at an annual function of the school. This can do wonders for your kid’s self-esteem. Therefore, music is certainly healing and is very important for the personal, emotional, mental, and psychological growth of children.

Academic Development through Music:

A boost in academic improvement can certainly be the incentive for many parents and schools to allow or start music classes for children. Many scientists and child development psychologists have come to the conclusion that music does improve a child’s academic performance and they certainly gain more expertise in core subjects such as science, language, math and history. Learning music involves rhythm which is achieved by time sense and counting. For example, children need to find out how long or short each musical note is, or when to stroke which cord, or what the dot on the note signifies, etc. So one has to have a good sense of timing and ability to multiply and divide time in order to achieve the same. And there are many studies to support this fact that music improves math. In fact there are many musicians who are exceptionally good at math.

You must be aware that musical notes are generally some symbols that one must learn in order to read them. Learning such musical notes also helps in improving the linguistic language to interpret its real meaning and delve deeper into the subject. While learning music they also go through different poems and songs written by previous artists, lyricists, singers, and poets. This helps children learn more about literature and different instruments, notes, and styles. They try to discover what sounds better together or how sound waves work, what mechanical corrections need to be done to get the exact sounds, and connection between distance and sound waves, etc. It indeed helps them find out more about science and through practical experiences it is easy to learn scientific theories.

Music enhances one’s logical intelligence, mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, along with intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. Hopefully by now you have realized the importance of music education in schools. So when are you having a meeting with your kid’s teachers about starting a music class?

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Hip Hop Samples To Make Awesome Beats

Music is just a wonderful feeling that has the potential to blow our minds and we sometimes wonder what it takes to create this magic. Well surely it is not easy to get all your instruments and tools right and synchronize them perfectly as you wish. The fact is that you have to be a genius or a legend to create an absolutely fresh piece of music without any base. Every time we hear something, the sound gets stored in our mind and when we look to create music then we figure out ways to recreate those sounds through sound instruments. Take help of the hip hop samples to get some idea of how to proceed and hip hop drum samples will guide you with the sounds.

Hip hop sound kits are the marvelous gift for the modern world of music where you can have a simple electronic interface to produce all the sounds without needing to have all those instruments. Just imagine that with a sound kit, you can produce all the desired sounds with just a touch and you can manage all those instruments virtually at one place on your screen. This is the power that a sound kit brings. It is like having all the instruments and moreover able to play them from one place.

Sound kits provide a simplest and easiest way to create your music. However, you would need to enhance your kit by including hip hop loops and sounds. You must always look for sound kits that can provide a variety of sounds with a crisp sharp sound quality. You need to have a sound kit that can produce hundreds of sounds without compromising the quality. It is very important to choose an authentic retailer for buying it. Always look for those retailers that use customized sounds.

You can enjoy a lot of flexibility with hip hop sound kits like you can always modify or edit your performance later without needing to start all over again. This is an excellent option to monitor and enhance your performance with minimum effort and time. Also, you enjoy the availability of multiple instruments virtually at one place. It is a compact and versatile option. Hip hop drum loops and drum samples are available easily from many online stores. Creating music is now easy and a lot of fun if you have a hop hip kit with lots of hip hop samples.

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How Playing An Instrument Can Improve Your Brain

We all love music, there isn’t a person in this world who doesn’t like some kind of music or the other. Well, who would have thought playing music or learning to play an instrument could improve the functioning of our brains? I’m not saying it- it’s all well documented in science.

Science shows it helps in “neurophysiological distinction” which aids in literacy, thereby translating into better academic capabilities. Studies in the Northwestern University show that music can greatly improve the functioning of your brain. Studies show that (simply/just) listening to music is not enough, but that you have to practice playing music in order to improve your cognitive function. For example, just watching sports doesn’t make you fit, does it?

The same study shows that students who play music have better attendance and cognitive function, although active participation in making music is required to rewire the brain.

We all know one thing for sure- music has the power to change our mood, it definitely possesses the ability to motivate us and often improves concentration. Music makes us happier, leading to more dopamine release which means more contentment in life.

Want a more symmetrical brain? You better pick up an instrument. Brain scores show that musicians have a more symmetrical brain and that the areas responsible for motor control, auditory processing and spatial coordination are denser, which makes you a well-balanced person both physically and emotionally.

Want a faster brain? I know you do. Again, picking up an instrument is the answer. The Corpus callosum as the scientists call it, is a bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and guess what, people who play music have a thicker and more efficient Corpus callosum, helping the two spheres of your brain to communicate better and faster.

Perhaps the single most reason for stress is the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to all kinds of unwanted stress related problems in our lives. But the good news is, listening to music decreases this stress hormone; even listening to sad music has benefits- it has been proved to provide you with the necessary physiological relief during hard times.

It increases the spatial intelligence of your brain which helps in understanding how things work. This is an essential skill for complex careers like architecture, engineering, math and computer science.

If you don’t want a receding memory down the lane when you age, music has shown to protect people from memory loss and cognitive damage. You don’t have to play music forever, even people who have played music for just 4 years seem to show the same results in their cognitive functions even after 40 years.

So go ahead and pick up that instrument you always wanted to, let the music flow through you for all the joys it has to offer you in life, for like Einstein said, “I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin”. And if you are looking for that inspiration you always needed, look no further- here is a list of famous people who played instruments. Look up to them, learn, laugh and love.

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Where to Find Free Music for Your Videos

Copyright holders, along with YouTube (to use a well-known example), have, within the last few years, been cracking down on people using copyrighted music without permission. Tributes & covers of songs, of course, have been somewhat “riding the fence” of legality, where the artists gives their due credit to the composer/lyricist in question and provides a disclaimer in their video description that says “this is not my work, I do not own the rights to this music,” and they generally get left alone, more or less.

Obviously, though, not all videos with music in them are covers or tributes. Other videos are sometimes sales pitches, or vlogs featuring meditation music. Whatever the reason for including music at all, it’s something of an embarrassment for a video creator if they have to remove or replace the music in their video because the music was copyrighted, and the creator had their video monetized. And since not every content creator out there earns lots of money from their videos, they likely can’t afford to pay the royalty fees required of them, so they’re forced to remove the music.

Finding Free Music

But not everyone is a musician and/or lyricist with the ability to compose their own works. Nor does everyone have a musician pal at their disposal, whether that musician gets paid for ditties and jingles or not. So it’s often up to the one creating the video to find either free music, or at the very least, royalty-free tracks. But where to find such music? And is the free music you’d find of high quality?

After all, it used to be that most stock music libraries didn’t have music that was very good quality, and some music libraries are still like this if the people uploading tracks have used cheap equipment and synthesizers where the built-in digital sound banks aren’t very accurately sampled & reproduced (this tends to happen with lower-end electronic keyboards).

However, thanks to the advent of MP3s and more professional-grade composition & editing software, among other similar advances, most stock music libraries these days often have truly stunning tracks available in a wide variety of genres, so you’re not stuck with just a few samples here and there of one style, and a lot of samples in another style, and nothing to speak of in any other genre.

What’s the Difference?

Now, you might be wondering what the difference is between “royalty-free” and completely free, when it comes to stock music libraries.

“Royalty-free” means that you pay a one-time fee for a track and you don’t have to continually pay royalties to the composer for the entire time you use their works, and there is usually some sort of usage license that detail how you can use the music once you pay the fee. Completely free music is simply that: It that has no upfront usage fee and is normally licensed under the “Creative Commons” license.

When you go looking for free music, you’ll want to take a look at the types of music licenses available, as each licensing company has different stipulations as to how the music they have on offer can be used.

It’s worth your time and energy to go looking for free music. It saves the hassle and embarrassment of having to remove an otherwise copyrighted track and replace it, plus you never know what amazing, original music can be found at reasonable prices.

Look for a site that has a wide range of music genres. It’s easy to find the right music when you have categories like alternative rock, New Age/Ethereal, Country and so forth. Look for a music site is entirely free or that charges a minimal fee for commercial applications.

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