Becoming a better musician can often be about practice, like any skill. While no one can ingrain rhythm, key, or musicality into a person you can always put the hard work in and practice.
There are typically two types of people within a skill, someone who has always been naturally gifted in that skill, and it just comes easy to them, or someone who has put serious time and effort into practicing the skill.
The great thing about music is that anyone can express themselves through it, you don't need to reach any specific level of proficiency to do this.
Yet, sometimes it can be really helpful to use an aid that can encourage you to practice and make practice fun if it doesn't already come naturally to you.
This is where Melodics comes in, a downloadable desktop app that creates fun and also informative ways to practice using MIDI controllers, drum pads, keyboards, and many other electronic instruments and equipment.
Let's explore this app together and see if it is truly worth your time.
What Is Melodics?
Melodics is a free downloadable app for iOS and Android devices that helps you practice electronic music techniques with a view to becoming a music producer.
The app combines the fun almost game-like interface with your equipment to encourage practice and to make sure you keep your practice up.
They provide a lot of diversity when it comes to musical difficulty, providing lessons for complete beginners to more advanced lessons and even courses on musical theory.
Yet, the app is definitely catered towards electronic MIDI controllers such as a drum pad, electronic keyboard and drums.
You couldn't learn guitar here, for example. As you may expect, the music in the app is more catered towards modern electronic music production than anything else, so if you aren't interested in that, this may already not be for you.
How Does It Work?
Melodics use a type of practice known as ‘deliberate practice'. This type of practice involves literally copying and recreating patterns in order to learn and is what most similar practice apps use, music or otherwise.
For example, you are not encouraged to create your own stuff, rather, they provide structured learning so that you can learn the functional skills necessary to create your own music in the future.
This is a pretty common, if functional, approach to teaching music. If you were to buy lessons from a teacher they would probably approach your learning in a similar way.
You get to learn how your favorite tracks are played and how they function, with the hope that having this functionality will enable you to create your own music.
Who Would Get The Most From Melodics?
The musician who would get the most from Melodic is someone who is a newcomer to the world of electronic music production.
The app can effectively teach the basics of finger drumming, keeping rhythm, and phrasing that are fundamental to electronic music production.
If you have never used your equipment before and aren't used to the style of electronic music then you can go from 0 to 10 pretty quickly with Melodics.
Moreover, the approach to learning they take can definitely be useful for a beginner. If you have ever tried to learn an instrument before you know that at the start you need a push to keep your practice up.
Before you have that moment where you get the ‘bug' for learning, having the persistence to keep going back is necessary to crest this hill.
Melodics encourages this with notifications and streaks as well as new lessons. All the tactics that Melodics employ will be effective at a beginner level, and you will find out quickly if the genre/instrument is for you.
It feels that more intermediate musicians and people more proficient with the hardware than a beginner may find the lessons a little tiresome and repetitive.
Most of the lessons are about ingraining a sense of rhythm and timing into your drumming and use of the hardware, if you already have this it can be a bit redundant.
Moreover, the more adept lessons can be a little sparse, there isn't much musical theory that can be taught with the paint-by-color lessons they provide, although there is promise of this later on.
In other words, music isn't just about hitting notes at the right time, and judging a performance with an arbitrary sliding scale of success isn't always an approach to learning music that makes sense, but can be effective in the early stages.
Is it Effective?
Once you have completed around half the lessons I would say that you are more than prepared to start messing around in your own software.
It can be hard to teach musical theory to someone who has never tried to make their own music and has never left the paint-by-color approach that Melodics runs on.
In other words, there is an obvious jumping off point in the learning where you would be more than prepared to approach music production without an aid.
The lessons seem to focus more on performance than production. For instance, being able to hit notes perfectly on time and keeping the rhythm perfectly is something that would concern a live drummer/artist.
These lessons teach you how to use your equipment, but the lessons don't really encourage production per se. To encourage music production you would study music theory; to encourage performance you would practice like this.
Melodics' approach to pricing is through a subscription plan. They offer a free plan that is relatively limited and is more for a taster of what a paid subscription can get you.
The paid subscriptions are either monthly or an annual option that would save your money.
Firstly, a subscription approach to learning can be a little counter-intuitive. In theory, they could be holding your learning back in order to get you to keep your subscription.
If they actually made you into the producer they say, then their business model just wouldn't work.
A lot of users suggest that lesson packs could be a better way to approach pricing with the app. Buying the ‘beginner' lessons, and then buying more lessons as you progress.
This leaves a lot more on the learner to understand the stages of learning more clearly as well as allowing them to practice as much as they want without feeling like there is a timer on how quick they need to learn in order to get the most value out of their purchase.
You would be paying for what you want and need rather than feeling you are making a time sensitive investment. It feels like users might get more from their learning this way.
If you have recently bought a drum pad or electronic drum hardware, Melodics could be a great way for you to learn the basics of how to keep rhythm and finger drum.
The performance based lessons you run through would certainly speed up your learning at the beginning, rather than diving straight into production software.
If you progress further easily, then there are lessons on musical theory and other similar ‘courses'. But these will encourage you away from the app and to make your own music and production.
If you are already a seasoned musician, you could still get something from Melodics. It can be helpful to start from the beginning again, and you may pick up new techniques or approaches to practice.
If you want some structure to practice your performances, as well as fun encouragement, then Melodics could help you reach a new level of proficiency.
Yet, Melodics is marketed as teaching you how to become a music producer. If this is their aim, they haven't really achieved this.
Melodics can certainly teach a certain level of proficiency with their reward-based deliberate practice that can be useful for newcomers to electronic hardware.
There is definitely a jumping off point in the middle of their learning where you could, and perhaps should, begin practicing in your own production software. We would encourage this experimentation as it can make learning music theory easier.
Their approach to payment through subscription plans could throw some users off buying the app, it seems that lesson packs encourage learning more and make users feel like they are getting more from their money.
Sometimes subscription plans feel too permanent and too much of an investment for those who want to learn and practice in their own time.
Beyond encouraging practice, there isn't much Melodics offer that you can't find in a book, in a YouTube review, or through online research.
However, there are certainly people who would seriously benefit from their deliberate practice approach and their useful ways of encouraging practice.
People learn in very different ways, so if you learn better with trial and error or experimenting then don't be afraid to jump in, but if you value this sort of structure and encouragement to your learning then Melodics might just be for you.