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The Understanding of Music Seminar

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The Understanding of Music Seminar
By Rob Walker (CEO Australian Music Association, bass player for Jack Howard and The Ambassadors of Love, Crakajak)

It was with a great deal of interest that I first read about the Understanding of Music Seminar. Learn to Read and Play Music in Three days is a big claim. It turned out to be true I am sure for novices in the group, and certainly someone like me, a self-taught, but still professional at times, musician. It did not say how well you would play or read, but during the weekend we were all doing both at various levels. The seminar is not about technique but is a broad-based approach to music that fills in many of the gaps most musicians have in their understanding. The seminar is unusual, in that it can be of value to musicians at all levels.

It kicked started learning music for many in the group I sensed. It sent them away with a tool kit, that if followed, would start them on a much quicker path to getting to their level of ‘good’ and understanding the relative simplicity of our music. And the demographic was interesting too. There were people from all walks of life, ages between teens and seventy something, from beginners to people who had been on the journey for a lifetime.

other-group-keyboardI had the opportunity to focus on music for three information packed days with Duncan Lorien, who engages his audience with a mixture of well-placed anecdotes, downright funny one-liners and ah ha moments especially regarding the evolution of music, its history and connection with religious culture, the way it was written down, and the way it was and is taught. Music was seen as for the elite and the godly in early Western music history. Dorien is not a fan of ‘traditional’ teaching methods, and feels they are made unnecessarily difficult. He convinced me of his passion for demystifying music for all though, and offered practical solutions to long-held mysteries, just as he has done to over 30,000 seminar participants over the last 30 years.

Most of us self-taught musicians don’t know a lot of music theory. We can follow a chord chart, which is what most do, even some of the best session players, but this seminar encourages us to be a good reader, it demystifies the complexities and provides practical ways to improve your understanding and your execution. Given the relative simplicity of our modern ‘octave’ and the simple use of the alphabet, it does not deserve to be as complex as it seems – I’m sure it scares a lot of people away from learning to read and play music.

shane-guitarI had always thought it would be good to read, but it seemed a distant thing, something that if you didn’t start early you would never learn to do. The Understanding of Music Seminar inspired me to learn more. Chords, scales and modes made more sense, reading above and below the lines, how it all applied to various instruments. It illustrated how understanding and reading music just makes you a better musician.

This may be repetitive but TUMS explains the things that don’t make sense about the subject of music. It can be valuable to all who have an interest. Don’t believe me? The testimonials on the website are truly inspiring and are all you need by way of recommendation!

The Understanding Music Seminar returns in February 2017. More info here

The writer was invited by UMS to attend the seminar without fee as an observer as well as a participant. There was no compulsion on, or incentive to, the writer to publish this article

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