Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony

Rhythm, melody, and harmony. These are the basic building blocks of music. My goal in writing this book was to help you translate the music you hear in your head into music you can play on an instrument. I believe this is the essential skill of being a musician. Below is a breakdown of the different aspects of this skill.




I hope reading the previous chapters has helped you begin to learn these skills. Now that you understand these concepts, it might be helpful to revisit the reasons why these skills are important. As I wrote in the first chapter, I think the goal of learning how to play music is to be able to express yourself. One way to do this is to find musical ideas that are uniquely yours and figuring out how to play them. Finding musical ideas is an intuitive process that involves a lot of listening, explorations, and noticing the sense that “this is what it should sound like next.” Figuring out how to play these ideas is a skill that requires technical knowledge of your instrument, and all of the rhythm, melody and harmony skills I listed above.

I’m not sure how long it takes to learn these skills. I’m not sure what would happen if you focused only on this for your entire musical practice. The exercises in this book are what I wish I had done when I was learning music. Looking back, I’m sure I would have learned much faster had I known what I know now. That being said, the goal might not be to learn as fast as possible. Perhaps you also want to have fun playing music (I know I do!). As you’re trying to gain fluency on your instrument, it might be good to sacrifice efficiency for the sake of fun. Try learning songs you love and don’t worry about analyzing the chord progression. Just play them and have fun. Come back to the fluency practice when you have the energy for that.