• Renee Koh

5 Music Projects to Indulge in These Holidays

With the holidays upon us and another month of inactivity lurking around the corner, the youths of our generation are finding new ways to spend it.


Like maybe picking one of these 5 music projects to spend time quasi-productively.


I'm not going to lie that they won't take effort, because they definitely will, but it has been wholly satisfying for me to indulge myself in some of these projects, so I hope you'll find at least some of them darn tootin' rad too.

Without further ado...


1. Learn a new instrument... or another clef

It's never, ever boring to learn a new instrument. Maybe you've been a pianist all your life but haven't delved into woodwind instruments. Maybe you haven't picked up a musical instrument in your life. If you have some free time in this relative isolation and you've always wanted to try that one instrument, I urge you to find a cheap one if you're not sure if you're going to like it yet, maybe second-hand on eBay or Facebook marketplace, sanitize the **** out of it, and watch a few YouTube tutorials.


There has never been a more permissive time to learn how to play one.

Maybe this sounds completely spoilt to you. Maybe the funds just aren't there, or you find no joy in picking up any other musical instruments. I have the perfect alternatives for you. On one hand, you could try learning another clef, or...


2. Learn music theory


There are three levels I would suggest for people to vaguely categorise themselves into, and just to use non-polarizing terms, I will be naming these levels after everyone's favourite yellow citrus.

  • Lemon: online courses There are many online courses out there for a musician who's just starting out on the journey to understanding music theory, but it's also perfect for someone who wants to brush up on their basics. These two are some of the best resources out there.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/edinburgh-music-theory#syllabus https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/music/introduction-music-theory/content-section-1

  • Lemonade: youtube sources, basically I wouldn't recommend YouTube for a beginner with absolutely no idea what to expect, but it's surprisingly useful for those who've understood the basics and want to get an idea of how it is and has been practically applicable

(this is more of a "history of music" theory than a "theory of music" theory) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_yOVARO2Oc&list=PL9LXrs9vCXK56qtyK4qcqwHrbf0em_81r 8-bit Music is also a fun channel just to learn a bit more about the "feel": https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeZLO2VgbZHeDcongKzzfOw Or other cultures' music theory, such as Indian music by Anuja Kamat https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs6OTIFV53Z-EGT84lxTvqQ

  • Lemon meringue cake with lemon rind icing: artists with insane talent These recommendations are for those who want a deep dive into the intricacies of music theory. Theory haters beware: these videos will make you absolutely enamoured

All of Adam Neely's videos https://www.youtube.com/user/havic5 (he explains stuff in a way that can be understood by lemonade-level music learners, but his content is high-end stuff) Anything you can find by Jacob Collier. Start here, if you haven't heard of Jacob Collier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSqaQaoifww And here if you're already a fan but haven't seen any of his masterclass videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_nARBto3Tg

But if you want a sort of basic, university-type series of lectures, this is for you: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw9t0oA3fHkxx1PgYpiXrMUPXaOiwh6KU


I was originally against learning music theory, as I did pretty bad in theory exams, but my high school bass teacher taught me that music theory was more than just memorising triads and classical chord progressions. The more you explore, the more it shines, really.


3. Find music to arrange


After learning music theory, and perhaps learning how to play an instrument, musicians will find a piece of music that they would like to learn.


But oh no!


There isn't any sheet music online for your instrument!


dun dun dUUN


This calls for an arrangement.



To understand music arrangements, we have to understand transcriptions. Transcribing is just basically writing down music on paper or a music notation platform like Musescore, after listening to the piece. Arranging music consists of transcribing the piece (or your interpretation of it, anyway) but for any cluster of instruments.


Some great examples of arrangements include Adam Neely's arrangement of Run Away With Me by CRJ for jazz + string band and Panic! at the Disco's arrangement of Into the Unknown for (sort-of) big band.


You don't need to have "prior experience" before you start arranging music: you can wrap your head around the idea of harmonization and the use for proper timbres of instruments while you work on your first arrangement.


Go for it, kiddo.


4. Learn music production


Whether you've been a long-time music lover or a beginner starting out in the weird and wonderful world of electronic music or music arrangement, digital audio workstations (or DAWs) will become one of your bestest ever friends.


Music production is one of those things people don't think they can do until they do it. If you have an idea, I promise, it's won't be that hard to execute, especially if you understand how (YouTube tutorials, again) and have the necessary tools

Some of the most highly regarded DAWs out in the industry (which are completely free to use!) are

  1. cakewalk (only for window users, sorry!)

  2. LMMS

  3. soundbridge

  4. garageband (only for mac users)



Maybe your view of music production is limited to those people turning knobs in the control room while the artists are playing in the studio (like my view of it was for a looong time) or maybe an EDM artist surrounded by towers of electronic equipment; it's much less than that. All you need to produce your own music is your laptop/phone/tablet and an active imagination.


5. Expand your music tastes


One of my favourite illustrators went on a journey to listen to the top 500 albums of all time as shown on the Rolling Stones website. She listened to every album on that list, no matter what the genre or whether she knew the band beforehand.


That's a really easy way to expose yourself to other bands and genres, but it's still not the best way to do so if you want to start listening to other, more niche genres and find music that you may come to love.


Honestly, the best way is to open up Spotify, click on a genre that you've never really listened to before, and go down a rabbit hole. You might like it, or you might not, but just like any experience out there, at least you've had it.



And those are the 5 music projects you can indulge in these holidays. You can attempt just 1 or up to all 5 of them, but always remember that whatever you choose to do, it will take time. You will need to be patient to see any results, and when you do, celebrate! Music is a joy that's easy to obtain and even easier to pick up.


So good luck! And I hope I've successfully given a bit of direction to your lifelong musical journey.

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