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The Importance of Musical Exploration
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The Importance of Musical Exploration
By: Kole

I’ve held the belief that listening to and learning from musical styles that are different from your own, has always been beneficial. However, early in my musical career this wasn’t so apparent to me or some of my students. In fact, some of my students had the misconceived perception that going outside of their “strength” would harm them musically in some way.

So in their mind, they thought that learning something like music theory would be completely harmful to their creative process. Mike Philippov (a colleague of mine) has a great article on this subject which can be found here. (Should You Learn Music Theory?)

They also were worried about the issues of being unique and having their own sound or style. One of my first articles “Are YOU Unique” explains on how to deal with this issue and even delves a little bit into the topic I will cover in this article.

So to deal with these student’s doubts and misconceived perceptions, I asked them to read the articles I linked above and I told them this personal story about the Importance of Musical Exploration.

A few years ago I would have considered myself a fairly decent Blues/Rock/Metal guitarist and I was pretty content with the level I was at and the pace I was progressing at. Then one day, one of my colleagues who is big into Jazz, asked me to attend a week long workshop with him to study Jazz. Needless to say I was a little bit skeptical, because I was not familiar with Jazz nor did I ever see it being useful in the music I would ever compose.

After a while of thinking and eliminating the risk of being called a hypocrite (because I always tell others to have an open mind to new things), I decided to attend this week long Jazz workshop without any expectations of learning more than a cool lick or two. Boy was I wrong…

After only the first day there (which was mostly listening to other musicians play), I was already coming up with new phrasing and composition ideas. Nothing had been taught to me yet, but by just listening to something so new and different to me, my mind was opened up to a world of new possibilities.

As the week went by, I learned more and more from the great instructors there and from personal observation of the performances. My old phrasing and melodic ideas started to transform and fuse with all of the cool things I was learning at this Jazz workshop. Compositionally, I was introduced to new theories, scales, and techniques that I had not know to exist before.
To sum it all up, I can honestly say that my unique style and songwriting abilities that I have today would NOT be anywhere near where they would have if I had not opened my mind and explored a music style foreign to me. I believe this to be true for every musician out there, because even if you end up hating the new style of music, you can end up gaining at least one more unique musical element in your arsenal. For example, I am not a huge fan of country, however I do like the transitions between vocal timbres that many country singers have. I then take that transitional technique and apply it to my own music. The end result doesn’t sound anything like country music, but instead it sounds completely unique and expressive.

I hope this story has opened your mind to the “Importance of Musical Exploration,” and until next time…

Take care and keep composing fellow artists!

Kole is a Composer for Media, Guitarist, and Instructor living in Los Angeles, CA. To find out more visit his main site at:

Exile CD CoverNew CD

Kole has just released his debut album “Exile”. To listen to examples, find out more information, or purchase the album click here.

Other lessons and articles by Kole

Are YOU Unique?
The Art of Pre-Composition - Part 1
The Art of Pre-Composition - Part 2
The Theory of Appreciative Comparison - Part 1
The Importance of Musical Exploration
Horizontal and Vertical Thinking - Part 1 Vertical Thinking
3 Ways to get out of a Songwriting Rut!
Getting into the Flow: Opening yourself to the Muse
The Minor 2nd (The often misunderstood and under appreciated interval)
Adding Color to your Music
5 Priceless Composition Tips for the Young Composer
3 Uncommon Guitar Practicing Ideas
3 Keys to Successfully Writing Music

About Kole

KoleKole has been playing and composing for over 12 years with half of that time being spent at some of the world's most respected music institutions... the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California.

Kole has co-authored an instructional e-book for guitar titled “Serious Improvement for the Developing Guitarist.”  Kole has also just finished a new instructional Jam Tracks CD titled “Improve your Improv.” This product is perfect for aspiring lead guitarists or anyone who needs backing tracks to play over.

If you would like to find out more information about Kole, his music, articles, or lessons feel free to visit his site at If you have any questions, comments, or requests for articles please send your e-mails to, he answers all e-mail.

Copyright 2007 Kole All rights reserved.

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