Music

Now's the time to learn how to play music — here's what you'll need

From basic music theory to creating your own instruments, there are many ways to bring music into your home.

From basic music theory to creating your own instruments, there are many ways to bring music into your home

A toddler takes part in a "Baby DJ School" class, aimed at preschool children to learn the basics on how to mix music, in New York. (AFP via Getty Images)

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay indoors, now is the time to tackle those projects and hobbies you've been putting off: picking up those unread books, resuming that video game you started, or cooking some recipes you've been meaning to try. 

Another skill worth picking up is playing music. With live music in a state of flux, it can feel difficult to connect with others through this art form. (There are, of course, many ways fans can help support musicians who are currently out of work.) But learning how to perform music is a great way to be interactive. 

Below, we've detailed various ways people at home can learn and make their own music. 


Download these apps

In response to people who are self-quarantining right now, synth giants Moog and Korg have both made their music-making apps available for free. Moog's Minimoog Model D app is a portable synthesizer that allows you to play with more than 160 presets. Similarly, Korg's iKaossilator iOS app is a palm-sized Kaossilator touchpad synthesizer that you can experiment with. 

GarageBand is one of the most popular apps for making music and is also free to download, although additional instruments and sounds will cost extra. Other free apps that require more in-app purchases include: Figure, Smule (formerly Sing! Karaoke), Ninja Jamm and Magic Piano

If you're serious about music production, then the following apps cost money upfront but feature more advanced systems: Steinberg Cubasis, Image-Line FL Studio Mobile, Native Instruments iMaschine 2 and Akai iMPC Pro.

While not an app, guitar company Fender is offering a free three-month subscription to its Fender Play platform to the first 100,000 people to sign up. The service usually costs $9.99 a month ($89.99 annually) and includes instructional videos on how to play the guitar, bass and ukulele. In a statement on its website, Fender said: "With everything happening in the world, music has the power to connect us. We want to do our part to see you through." 

Take a lesson from a well-known artist 

In the past week, some musicians have taken to the internet to interact more with their fans, and a number of them are also sharing their musical skills in educational ways. Arkells frontman Max Kerman has been posting the chords to the band's songs on social media and following them up with Instagram live tutorials where students can follow along and ask questions. "It's a way to ultimately feel engaged and still feel a sense of community in a time where you can't see people face-to-face," Kerman told CBC News.

Ottawa guitarist Nathan Bredeson is offering up a similar service by giving guitar lessons over Skype. "If you or someone you know is bored while stuck at home, maybe it is time to pick up a new hobby!" he posted on Facebook

If you have more money to invest in a monthly subscription or single class on Masterclass, music obsessives can access exclusive courses from music's biggest names. Canadian DJ Deadmau5 leads a class on electronic music production, Herbie Hancock teaches jazz and superstar producer Timbaland will take you through producing and beatmaking. 

Watch CBC Music's How-To series

Over the years, CBC Music has enlisted a number of musicians, from jazz artist Michael Kaeshammer and violinist James Ehnes to indie acts like Whitehorse and Megan Bonnell, to teach fans how to perform music. Whether it's playing certain songs, nailing skills like a pizzicato on a violin or perfecting the 12-bar blues — or simply doing vocal warmups — this playlist is full of neat tricks from professional musicians. 

Music lessons for kids

Online resources like Bamboo Music, which can be activated using an Alexa device, or DuckDuckMoose offer quick and easy lessons that break down notes, rhythm and scales. 

What if you don't have any instruments?

If you don't own an instrument, you can always create your own. Hand-carving your own guitar might be a lofty goal, but for a quick crafty project, there are a number of online videos that teach people how to make simple instruments out of everyday materials. This is especially a fun activity for kids to get involved in. 

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