Trying to figure out how to start making music?
At the outset, you need to know that there isn’t just ONE WAY to start making music. There are many ways!
But we can break the process down into multiple skillsets. They don’t all need to be handed by you, but you’ll probably want to learn at least one to get started quickly.
Here are the skills that matter most as applied to making music.
Learn an Instrument
Learning to play an instrument will help you reach your goal of making music faster than just about anything else.Learning to play an instrument will help you reach your goal of making music faster than just about anything else. Click To Tweet
The only catch is that learning to play an instrument takes time. And you will likely feel a stronger connection to one instrument or another but won’t know without spending some time experimenting.
If I were to recommend an instrument to learn, it would either be piano or guitar.
🎹 Piano because everything you learn on the instrument can easily be applied to organ, mellotron, synths, keyboards, MIDI controllers (which you will find in practically every studio), and more.
🎸 Guitar because everything you learn on the instrument can help you on bass, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki and more.
The best way to learn an instrument is with the help of a knowledgeable teacher, so if you can afford lessons, begin taking them right away.
Secondarily, you can find a lot of great books, articles, and video tutorials online.
If you’re looking to gain confidence on your instrument and develop the inner skills necessary to improve your “feel” on your instrument, Musical U is a great community and training program to take advantage of.
Learn to Sing
Your voice is uniquely yours. So, learning to sing is a great way to learn how to express yourself.Your voice is uniquely yours. So, learning to sing is a great way to learn how to express yourself. Click To Tweet
But learning to sing on your own is tough if not impossible.
Some people have natural talent, and that can help, but ultimately, the best singers are those who’ve received training and coaching. So, take lessons, especially if you can afford it.
Singing is a great skill to master, and it’s always in demand, but just know that making music can be difficult if it’s the only skill you have.
We interviewed Matt Ramsey from Ramsey Voice Studio in episode 198 of the podcast, so if you’re looking for someone who can teach you, that’s a good place to start.
Learn to Write Lyrics
There are virtually no rules as applied to writing lyrics.There are virtually no rules as applied to writing lyrics. Click To Tweet
In my early days, I always found it helpful to listen to music and how one lyric flows into another.
Basically, listen to music widely, especially music you enjoy. You’ll learn a lot by osmosis alone.
That’s the main thing to keep in mind with lyrics – flow. Big words, too many words, and hard-to-pronounce words should mostly be avoided.
Rhyming dictionaries can also be helpful, but don’t get caught up in formula. If it’s easy for you to come up with, chances are someone else has already come up with it!
Study the ins and outs of songwriting and most of all, PRACTICE A LOT! When I was just getting started, I filled multiple binders with terrible lyrics (but I had a lot of fun doing it). I even wrote 365 songs in a year at one point.
Know that lyrical content is always in demand, but it does have its limitations. If you’re planning to learn how to write lyrics first, then be sure to find a friend who can play an instrument, so you can put some music to your poetry!
Learn to Write Songs/Compose
Technically, this isn’t a great jumping off point for learning how to start making music.
If you want to write songs or compose, generally you’ll need to know how to play an instrument first. So, more than likely, you’ll start there before graduating to writing your own songs.
But learning how to read guitar tabs and figuring out how to sight-read can certainly help you get on the right track so far as making music is concerned.
Additionally, you don’t necessarily need to learn all of music theory to figure out how to start making music. That’s good news to anyone who thought this was going to be a long, arduous process!
To this day, I don’t know all of music theory, though I do understand it quite well.
Learn to Produce Music
At some point, you’re probably going to want to record the music you make.
These days, building beats isn’t that hard, but it takes a little bit of technical know-how, just like anything else (like graphic design, for example).
You can easily get started if you have:
- A computer
- A Digital Audio Workstation or DAW (Audacity is free, Tracktion is low cost and easy to use)
- An audio interface (I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 myself)
- A MIDI controller (M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 ought to do the trick)
- A microphone (I like the Rode NT1-A)
- A microphone/XLR cable (to connect your mic to the audio interface)
How to produce music is beyond the scope of this guide, but it’s fair to say you can find some decent tutorials on YouTube (depending on which DAW you’re using).
Besides learning to play an instrument, this is probably the best way to start making music. You might even be able to start building basic beats before you can play your first chord on guitar.
How to Start Making Music, Next Steps
If you enjoyed the above, then you might also enjoy my eBook, How to Record, Promote & Sell Your New Music Release – Single, EP, or Album.
This eBook covers everything from how to make demos and choose which songs to record, to how to hire session musicians and find a graphic designer to create your album design.
How to Start Making Music, Conclusion
Again, if you’re trying to figure out how to start making music, trying to learn all the above is going to prove overwhelming.
Ideally, you should start with just one thing and take it from there. See if you can find collaborators who have strengths you don’t, and you should be able to leapfrog in your music making efforts.
Most of all, remember to have fun. Music is supposed to be fun, and you’ll learn faster if you think of it as an experiment. Don’t take it too seriously!
Do you have any other questions? Is there anything else we should have covered here?
Let us know in the comments below!
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