Finger drumming and cue juggling are performance skills that can help set you apart from other DJs who are happy to just mix two songs together. Sure, mashing pads isn’t an essential aspect of traditional DJing, but it’s one way to add that “wow” factor during your gigs – you don’t even have to do something complex, simply because even a basic routine is quite special.
Of course, as we are primarily a teaching website, we were very interested to see how this new style of skills training pans out, so I was asked by the team to give it a thorough test. In fact, I’ve been messing around with the app for over a month now, and despite early doubts, I’ve grown to love it. Here’s why…
1. It works with just about any controller
Melodics makes one piece of the technological puzzle simple: it works with any Midi controller. It works plug and play with over 100 devices (and counting), and if you don’t have any of the gear on their extensive list, they have instructions on how to set yours up quickly. On the go and need to keep your chops up? They currently have a free app for iPhone and iPad that works as a standalone drum machine, or as a drum pad accessory when connected to your laptop.
If you don’t have a controller, you can also use your laptop’s keyboard, but it really is more fun with a pad controller. I tried it with two Native Instruments controllers: Maschine and Kontrol F1. Since the F1 has click-button pads that don’t detect velocity, I had an easier time with the pad feel of the Maschine, which lends itself more naturally to drum programming. Whatever the gear, utilising some type of hardware pad controller will greatly improve user experience.
2. The lessons are taught by those who know
Melodics features content from finger drumming and DJ greats like Jeremy Ellis, Live Evil, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Eskei83, OddKidOut, and Justin Aswell to name a few. There is great communication both in-app and via email: When I score 100% on a lesson, they congratulate my progress with humour and encouragement. If I’m in danger of missing a weekly goal, they send a friendly email with my status and suggestions to keep going. On the other hand, if I successfully complete my challenges for the week, they reward me for a job well done.
I feel like the team behind Melodics cares and supports my musical development, and as a result they feel like a really good friend now. Need a self-esteem boost? Seriously, subscribe to Melodics. 😉
3. It’s easy to gauge your progress, which helps you get better, faster
Practising skills can feel tedious and boring, meaning it can take years to develop them instead of months. I think solving this problem is where Melodics really shines, because it makes learning fun and addictive, helping users develop solid practice habits as they move along. Noticeable improvement takes place when you’ve got clear goals to achieve, and Melodics helps you get to them by keeping track of your progress in a simple and easy-to-understand manner.
Growing up as a drummer and a fan of music-related video games (eg Rock Band, Guitar Hero), I thought Melodics would be too simple, failing to show me any new tricks. After getting into it, though, it turns out I was wrong – I started feeling challenged past the fourth level. Each day I practised it became increasingly comfortable and familiar, giving me a real sense of improvement.
Melodics also releases new lessons every week, so the chances of boredom and running out of content are slim. In my first month, I quickly grew from uncertainty (“Am I wasting my time?”) to fondness (“This is great!”).
As of now, I’m currently working towards level eight, happy with the challenge. I already feel like my timing is consistently on point while DJing, and have completely disabled snap and quantise in my DJ software.
Whatever your finger drumming goals are, Melodics is a useful tool to have in your kit: DJs can warm up with Melodics before heading to the gig and executing a routine. Producers benefit from the app because they’re spending less time programming tracks, and performing them instead, which could lead to a more “human” rhythmic feel. Lastly, for any type of live pad performance, Melodics can help you showcase your skills and musicianship, especially if you want to break past the “press play” DJ stereotype.
Now, time to go practise…
Does finger drumming and cue juggling interest you? Have you tried out Melodics yet? What are your thoughts on this app? Let us know below.