Our guide to music
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to music

First published date November 07 2013 Amended date March 17 2015

Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next chart-topping star? Or do you think you’d be better suited to help produce that future number one hit? Whether you’re interested in how music has developed over time, keen to discover how it’s produced or wanting to take up playing a musical instrument yourself, they’ll be a music course to suit your needs.


But it’s too late to learn....

You may be the type of person who hasn’t unpacked your clarinet or keyboard since your teenage ages, but fear not as statistics from the MIA (Music Industries Association) show that you’re not alone.  85% of the UK population learnt a musical instrument through their school years, but only around one quarter of those maintained their skill into adult life. So, it doesn’t matter if the closest you’ve previously come to taking up music are those failed orchestra lessons at school or drunkenly pretending you’re the next Brian May on Guitar Hero, it’s never too late to learn (or relearn) a new musical instrument.

Music courses vary in levels and abilities so there’ll be one to suit you, whether you’re a complete newcomer to an instrument or an already accomplished musician looking to take your technique to the next level. Sessions are often available at flexible times during evenings and weekends, so you can find a music course at a time and location to suit you.  Don’t worry if you’re not keen on the idea of learning in front of others, as online sessions allow you to master an instrument without having an audience to perform in front of.


I haven’t got the time to play...

There can be much more to music than just playing an instrument. For any musician, having a team behind them with knowledge of music production and sound recording is equally as important. Studying the “behind the scenes” side of the industry can explain how to use specialist audio editing software, as well give you new skills in studio production, meaning you’ll be able to record any track you want. If being actively involved in music doesn’t interest you, then perhaps a music appreciation course will, where you spend time analysing and discussing music from various points across the centuries.  


Music moving on

Although a music history class would teach you more about how music has developed through the centuries, here are some of the key moments in recent history that have changed the music industry:

1952 (The birth of the UK charts) -  It wasn’t the ‘big top40’ back in the chart’s early days, with 15 artists battling out in the ‘top 12’, which saw Al Martino come out on top with his track “Here in My Heart”. More than 60 years on, Elvis Presley holds the record of most number ones by a single artist with 21, while the Beatles are the most successful band with 17 of their singles topping the chart.

1964 (The rise of pirate radio) – When Radio Caroline started broadcasting off the Essex coast to become the first British pirate station, it triggered a series of events that changed radio forever. Within three years, more than twenty stations had been set up; resulting in the BBC employing many of the pirate DJ’s to launch Radio One in 1967.

1983 - (The first Now that’s what I Call Music! released) - Who’d have thought that when Virgin introduced the first version on cassette and LP three decades ago, that we’d be now up to Now 85 (correct as of 04/11/13) with the compilations still selling strongly.

2003 – (iTunes launched) – It may seem like digital downloads have been a household part of the music industry for generations, but in truth the site is just a decade old. With more than 25 billion tracks (and counting) purchased from the site since then, it’s safe to say that buying music online has become increasingly popular.


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