The Craft of Music

When learning to make music, you develop many special skills.  We’ve counted 15 different ones, described below.  Amazingly, only one, Technique, is directly related to the instrument you play!  In fact, you can learn the first five skills, grouped under the heading “Listening,” without ever touching an instrument.  And the rest can be applied to every single instrument, including voice.

Developing these skills will help you enormously whether you are playing music or listening to it.  And if you decide to change instruments or learn a second one, these skills will make your learning go much faster and more easily. Please ask your teacher to explain more and how to make this part of your weekly study.


  • Pitch and chord recognition: Can you recognize, name, and repeat the musical notes and combinations of notes that you hear?
  • Rhythm recognition: Can you recognize, name, and count the repeated patterns of sounds and silences that you hear?
  • Repertoire recognition: Can you learn to recognize by ear and identify by name many different songs and pieces of music?
  • Memorization: Can you learn a song or piece of music by heart?
  • Transcription: Can you write down in musical notation the music that you hear on a recording or in a live performance?

Singing and Playing

  • Technique: Can you sing or play an instrument with skill, calm, self-awareness, confidence, and an understanding of musical style and interpretation?
  • Music reading: Can you learn a piece of music by reading it in musical notation?
  • Sight reading: Can you sing or play a piece of music you haven’t heard or seen before?
  • Solo interpretation: Can you sing or play familiar songs or pieces of music and communicate their meaning to others?
  • Duo and ensemble collaboration: Can you make music with other people with the same technique and communication skills as your solo playing?


  • Improvisation: Can you make up a song or piece of music at the same time you play or sing it?
  • Songwriting and composition: Can you make up a song or piece of music and write it down or show it to other musicians?
  • Arranging: Can you take a song or piece of music written for one kind of instrument or group and rewrite it for a different instrument or group?
  • Performance: Can you make music with or for an audience?
  • Analysis and discussion: Can you describe or explain in words what is happening in a song or piece of music?

Instruction, coaching, and performance for students of all ages.