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Ten Easy Ways to Become a Music Expert

Ten Easy Ways to Become a Music Expert

Music is everywhere. We listen to music while we commute, while we work, while we wait for a call to be forwarded and sometimes even to fall asleep. Almost every store and every restaurant strengthens its atmosphere by picking certain tunes.

music is the strongest form of magic

    But, when you ask someone what kind of music they like, too often “A bit of everything” is the answer. If you usually let music just wash over yourself, and you want to develop a deeper understanding of music, then the following ten steps will make you a person with a passionate opinion on the subject.

    1. Change your radio station

    If you’ve been listening to the same radio station since forever, it’s time to change things around. Most radio stations stick to their playlists, making your chances of discovering new artists or styles very small.

    Identify your favorite host or show on that radio station, and listen to other stations for the rest of the time. You don’t need to stay in the FM range. You can explore stations on the AM waves, or listen to online radio stations. Know that online radio is not only Last.fm, IHeartRadio or Grooveshark. There are plenty of independent radio stations online, for example GothVille Radio.

    2. Explore different genres of music

    If you usually tune in to commercial radio stations, you only catch a small part of the music spectrum. If you are ready to leave this monochromatic soundscape, then you can explore the vast sea of music genres. For starters, you can identify influential artists and sounds of a genre by reading around on Wikipedia. As an example, you can read about Blues and listen to the snippets that are provided with the article.

    Start with the main genres, and once you’ve determined which genres particularly resonate with you, you can dive into the sub-genres and crossover-styles.

    3. Listen per album

    Many artists record an album as a total piece of art. If you only know “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, then you’re missing out on the entire package of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Even on YouTube and Spotify, playlists are available that contain all tracks of an album.

    You can take an easy start by looking up the albums of your favorite hits, and then listen to the entire album. Do you see how your favorite song suddenly has an extra dimension?

    4. Listen to albums chronologically

    Now let’s go one step deeper into understanding music. If you have an afternoon’s worth of time, try to listen to all albums of a band chronologically.

    Some bands, like the American progressive rock band Dream Theater, try to build a connection between the last track of one release and the first track of their next release. Most other bands, however, simply grow and change over time. If you listen to their entire discography chronologically, you can identify the roots of your favorite hit.

    5. Read reviews

    When you listen to an album for the first time, try to listen to it very carefully. Pay close attention to the stylistic references, to the emotions and to the links with previous work of the artist or band. Once you have listened to the album for a first time, look for reviews of the album online, and see if you agree or disagree with the reviewers.

    Finally, give the album another spin, and see if you now recognize some of the points of criticism and praise of the reviewer. If you strongly disagree, you can simply write a comment to the online review to voice your opinion.

    6. Your emotional and physical reactions

    If you have identified the artists, bands and styles that appeal to you in particular, try to explain why you precisely like them. Your taste in music is a voice from your subconsciousness, and if you pay close attention to your emotional and physical reactions to music, you can learn more about yourself.

    At the same time, identifying your reactions to music, and the emotions it evokes, can help you define precisely why you like something. You can now build an argument to explain your preference—the opinion of a passionate music lover.

    7. Get a quick introduction to musical instruments

    A crucial element of understanding music at a deeper level is to hear the different instruments that contribute to it. You don’t need to be able to read sheet music nor play an instrument to hear the difference between an oboe and a violin.

    You can grab a quick introduction to musical instruments right off the internet by browsing “instruments of the orchestra” on YouTube. The example of the clarinet here is one of the many options.

    8. Listen to music history podcasts

    During your commute, while cooking, or vacuuming, you can listen to music history podcasts. In such podcasts, experts will help you understand the connection between your favorite music and the socio-economical conditions at the time of composition. A great example is Today in Music History.

    Other podcasts, such as the A to Z of Classic Fm Music focus on bringing together tons of small pieces of information to spark your listening.

    9. Compare different recordings

    Classical music pieces are recorded over and over again, but rock bands also occasionally record the same track as a studio version, and then as remixes or live versions. Listening to different renditions of the same piece of music trains your ear to listen for rhythm, tempo, color, emotion and all details that add to the final result that you hear.

    10. Attend free concerts

    Free concerts are available almost every weekend: conservatory students play for free to practice performing for an audience, or open-air fairs have a band playing to boost the atmosphere. If you hear free music playing, don’t just walk past the artists. Stop, take a seat and listen to their music, their performance and their energy.

    Do you consider yourself as someone who is passionate about music? Do you like discussing records and bands? What do you do to understand music at a deeper level?

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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