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How I almost gave up

I remember the moment so clearly—like a freeze frame. In the middle of a piano lesson, I suddenly stood up from the keyboard. And shouting bloody murder at the top of my lungs, threw the songbook down in complete frustration.

I was angry. And, at 12 years old, I hadn’t yet learned to control my temper. But my brain was seized by more than just rage. My emotions were also a cocktail of disappointment, shame, and sadness.

I was disappointed because music had let me down. Over the summer, I’d fallen in love with it after discovering the Beatles. And every day since, had devoted countless hours to my record player—clutching a pair of headphones, with my eyes blissfully closed and feet tapping each rhythm.12-goofing

It all felt so intuitive and effortless. So before long, I decided to sign up for music lessons myself—expecting that playing an instrument would be just as easy as listening to an album. (After all, it was so easy to goof around pretending like I could play an instrument.) But I soon found out it was much harder than it looked…

In fact, music lessons for me weren’t heaven at all. They were hell. And in just a few weeks, music notation effectively suffocated my excitement. From day one, it tripped me up. So each time I tried to navigate its strange and confusing symbols, my fingers fumbled and my brain got lost. So … I quit.

It was embarrassing to fail because I thought it meant I was a musical idiot or something. And that depressed me … because I still had music trapped inside my head with no way out. But I’d lost hope and didn’t even touch an instrument for the next two years.

Gradually, though, as I discovered more music, my interest renewed … until I eventually bought a cheap guitar. I didn’t have any real expectations this second time around—since I’d already failed before—so I felt more free to explore.

Rocking the bass guitar

At first, I made some progress using finger diagrams instead of notation. But after a while, I hit the same roadblock. Because no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t fully understand what I was doing. I still couldn’t SEE the musical patterns I was playing.

Just like notation, the finger charts and chord books I found looked more like braille for the blind than anything else—with their scattered patterns of little black dots. But it was the best I had … and the only way, it seemed, to “see sound” since sound was invisible.

And this dual nature of sound intrigued me. Because I felt like I was living in two different worlds at once. When my eyes were closed, the music jumped out in bold and vivid patterns. But when my eyes opened, those same patterns suddenly vanished into thin air.

So I got mad. And the more I thought about it, the madder I got. It wasn’t the helpless frustration I felt as a kid, but more of an impatient determination to figure music out once and for all. I was tired of feeling confused. Over thinking I was musically dumb. And I had nothing to lose.

So over the next few years, I became obsessed—devoting every free moment to cracking its code. Each night, I dreamed about musical patterns. Whether I was at work, or in school, or at parties, I’d sit in the corner and just doodle away. Drawing diagrams, trying to visualize the patterns I could hear in my head.

I was a one-track mind … and poured over hundreds of books on music theory. And as I dug deeper, searching for answers, I started to uncover patterns that were so intriguing … so magical.

Then one day, it hit me. I’d been playing with the idea of using color to see sound. When, just for fun, I combined the color wheel and the circle of fifths. And bam! Everything clicked. At that moment, I could finally see the musical patterns I’d been searching for … and ColorMusic was born.mikegeorge

In a flash, ColorMusic unlocked a whole new world. And since then, I’ve been mapping out this new landscape. I’ve learned a lot about music. And it turns out I was right all along … traditional music notation is overly complex.

In reality, music is very simple. And the truth is that playing it is just as easy as it sounds—seriously. Through ColorMusic, I’ve discovered my purpose in life—to help people discover the joy of music. The simple, intuitive, and completely empowering thrill of it.

Believe me: you don’t have to struggle. At all. Your path to musical nirvana is now clear. And I’m excited and honored to help you in your own musical journey. But get ready … because it’s a wonderful ride.

The world needs more music … YOUR music. So what are you waiting for?

Play … Learn … Create!

Mike George

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Why traditional notation is bad for dyslexics

music and dyslexia

If you have dyslexia, do you love standard music notation? My guess is probably not! How did I know that? Because traditional notation is decidedly unfriendly to a dyslexic brain. Here … let me explain:

Traditional music notation is bad for dyslexiaDyslexia is a language problem

Most people think of dyslexia as a brain condition that affects reading skills—like reading books, street signs, and other written information.

But dyslexia also affects your ability to learn a spoken language, too—because the way you hear and sound out words is closely tied to how those words appear on a page. So dyslexia is more than a reading problem … it’s a language problem.

Some languages are more severe

As it turns out, dyslexia is more of a challenge only in some countries. For example, if you live in Italy, you may have only mild dyslexia—because the Italian language has a simple structure with very predictable patterns.

But if you live in England or America, you’re not as lucky … because the English language is a hodge podge of Latin, Greek, German, and a bunch of other languages. As a result, this hybrid structure lacks any predictable patterns that could ease the learning process.

In English, many words are spelled differently than they sound. Some unrelated words might even share common letters, or the same spelling might be pronounced differently only in some contexts. And these inconsistencies can be especially hard on dyslexics.

Because some languages are more mangled than others, a lot of people are noticeably dyslexic only in certain countries … like America and England. But the British Dyslexia Association reports that a full 10% of the entire world’s population has the condition.

Music notation only makes things worse

One in 10 people experience some kind of challenge reading? That’s huge! And this statistic affect musicians, too … since dyslexia also makes it difficult to read music notation.

But what’s worse is that music notation can be even more confusing than English. (And that’s saying something!) With its strange, medieval symbols and uniform black note heads, traditional notation can be a dyslexic person’s worst nightmare. Which is why many people avoid it altogether.

The biggest irony of all

But if you think about it … isn’t that ironic? After all, music—the universal language—should be accessible to everyone, right? It sounds so predictable and easy. So shouldn’t music be equally easy to learn and play?

Well … yes, actually. In truth, music really is the easiest language in the world to learn. It just looks a lot harder than English. Which is why most people spend years studying how it works. And only a few lucky people have discovered the real secret of music—that it’s actually a simpler language than even Italian … seriously!

What most people don’t know is that music is made up of completely predictable and very structured patterns. Unlike other languages, which include thousands of different words, music is made up of only 12 basic notes. So really, anyone should be able to master it—including dyslexics.

How to save your sanity

If you want to truly excel in music, then you have to remove the language barrier. That is, you must bypass traditional notation … and look at the simple patterns that are hiding underneath.

Think carefully about the instruction books you use. Are they designed to be dyslexia-friendly? Or do they look more like the flight manual for a 747 jet? Do your music resources rely on music notation? Or do they offer some alternative that makes learning easier for you?

Try different approaches. And look for authors who actually think about their audience when writing. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Learning the language of music is really fun—and it can be really simple … for everyone.

How do you learn music today?

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How to avoid stage fright

For many musicians, performing for an audience is fun. It’s a great way to show off their skills, and it’s a great way to celebrate achievement.

You just walk out on stage … play a few songs … and you’re done. Easy, right?

Well … not for everyone.

For some musicians, one of the biggest buzz kills is a little thing called stage fright. You know how it feels … a pounding chest, butterflies in the stomach, clammy hands, and severe nerves.

music stage fright scary hand

But this fear doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means you’re human.

In fact, stage fright happens to the very best of us. Star performers like Barbara Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti, and Arthur Rubenstein all admit to getting a nasty case of the nerves.

But there are things you can do to reduce the symptoms of stage fright … and better prepare for the stage. For some seriously in-depth advice, you can check out a site like bulletproofmusician.com. But for a quick guide to calming nerves and playing your best, here are three solid things you can try today:

1 – Address it pre-emptively

Long before your scheduled performance, talk about stage fright with your students. Address it while everyone is feeling nice and calm.

Reassure your class that it’s totally normal, but that everything is good. Go to the worst-case scenario and explain that everyone will survive!

2 – Practice in preparation

Have your class hold small practice performances for a smaller audience. Ask a fellow teacher or some neighboring students to sit in and listen. Playing for an unintimidating group can help your students warm to the idea of performances.

You might also simulate potential distractions—like talking ore moving chairs—as your students perform. It’s like a gentle boot camp that gets kids prepared to block out unwanted sights and sounds. Encourage them to really focus on the music itself.

3 – Imagine victory

Talk with your class about the joy of completion. Once the performance is over, they’ll feel awesome, right? How will it feel? And what will it look like?

Speak from your own experience—and give students a taste of why it’ll be fun!

In the end, every performance is a teaching opportunity. Students definitely learn more about music … and about themselves in the process. So have fun!

How do you deal with stage fright?

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To rent or to buy: that is the question

If you’re new to music lessons, then you may be facing the big question—should I rent an instrument … or buy?

Given instrument prices, this decision you make is no small thing. In some ways, renting better. And in other ways, buying is ideal. So read the following list of pros and cons, and you’ll be one step closer to know the right answer:

rent versus buy a musical instrument

In the end, the choice you make is yours. Just be sure to factor in these considerations—so you’ll be happy with your decision!

Have you ever regretted a rental or purchase decision? Can you recommend any good shops?

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