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The Learning Process / 18 April 2016

Transitioning from a visual-centric way of thinking to the audio equivalent has been an interesting journey. It has entailed a change in the priority of what senses I use and ultimately how I think. With film, theatre, and dance, one can visualise their intentions before making them a reality.  But with sound, it's different - somehow more ethereal and generating the ideas forces you to explore the deepest crevices of one's mind. Well, it does for me anyway! 

Ear training has been key to making this journey a success. Repeatedly listening to different notes being played and learning to identify the size of intervals  (or gaps) between them has helped me to 'think musically.' 

At the time of writing, I am able to identify all intervals, depending on state of mind. My aim is to develop to the stage where I can imagine the different intervals in order to create sound narratives in my head. Before training ears, I watched the film Amadeus and was in awe of how Mozart was portrayed as dictating his final piece of music on his death bed. Now, I'm still in awe but with hope that I might be able to do the same... hopefully not on my death bed though!  

A lot of my 'training' has been a mixture of an hour of tuition per week plus a great number of hours sifting through YouTube videos. And… oh yeah… practicing doodling and writing music.  I’ve written a list of YouTube Channels which I frequently watch as a part of my training at the end of the article.

It has been a little tricky getting on to some courses because of the inherent uniqueness of my approach to music (causing other people to over-think how I am going to do the course). While most people have been well-meaning, it has been a tad frustrating at times. 

Thankfully, both of my music tutors over the years have been amazing. I also seem to attract amazing (personal) assistants who have been happy to play the keyboard, guitar, or even glockenspiel for me (for ear training).

If anyone out there is interested, I use the app – Perfect Ear 2 – which is available for Android. Using these kinds of apps is a good way of filling in those ‘inbetweeny’ moments on the underground or when recovering from being chased by a tiger!  No, seriously, ear training – like learning a language – relies upon regular exposure and practice, and works better if you somehow integrate it into your life; making it a natural activity.

I have also been lucky enough to have Sian who has guided me and believed in me since we met in November 2014.  Being surrounded by expertise has been a great help.  I need to be careful here so as to not make this a list of thanks!

People’s lack of confidence in the conducting conquest has also been a great help. There have been countless times where others have lacked belief that this would work, and after a while, it becomes yet another motivator to prove that things are not as black and white as people think they are.  After all, the cave person who discovered the circle might have been laughed at before his mates realised how revolutionary it was going to be to them and to future generations!

As with any learning, this is very much a transient process and so it continues!

Some of my music course materials on YouTube…
I have listed YouTube channels that I frequently watch as a part of my exploration of music.  Subjects covered include music theory, composition, ear training, history of music, instrument familiarisation, and general creative thought provoking videos.  I have loosely used these categories to organise them below.  However, there are many crossovers spanning a lot of the listed channels, so you can decide which ones are the most relevant to you. 

Music Theory – Music Matters – musictheoryguy – myhistoryofmusic – Dave Conservatoire

Composition – Art of Composing – artofcounterpoint

Conducting – Michelle Willis

Ear Training/ Music Theory – Rhythmic Canada - musicwithnoopain

Instrument Familiarisation - The Online Piano and Violin Tutor – Lemon77ug (Yehudi Menuhin Violin Tutorial playlist)

General Creative Thought Provoking – The RSA - Leonard Bernstein – James Humberstone

Thanks to DAO for hosting this blog for me – they’re amazing!  You can follow my twitter account @jamesrosetweets where I’ll be posting updates on the progress in the run up to and during the Conducting Development Week in week starting Monday 2nd May.  Further details on the project can be found at http:/