Frequently Asked Questions
I have always thought that trying to categorise one’s musical experience into beginner, intermediate or advanced levels is rather too “straight-jacketed”. Part of human nature is to makes assumptions and when we try to measure our own experience/level to fit the categories of beginner, intermediate or advanced, our assumptions are often inaccurate. For example, one person could be very strong at sight reading, but much weaker at composing, while someone else could be a great improviser without being able to read a note of music. Some have a good knowledge of theory but have no idea how to utilise it creatively. The principle of Hotwired is to reprogram your philosophy and spontaneous reactions to music; to show you how to make the maximum creative use of the tools at your disposal and as your knowledge base grows, then so will your musical potential. The Foundations Experience does not require any previous training or experience, but if you have had some, it will certainly help. This Experience starts from scratch to “cleanse” your thinking and eradicate negative past experiences. The Concepts Experience most definitely requires previous experience. Please refer to The Evaluator.
It will show you how easy it is to get creative with some basic knowledge. It is quite fast paced, but this enables many topics to be covered during a single day. You will be positively saturated with hugely beneficial information i.e. specific music vocabulary. It is an intensive course but great fun too, as everything you learn will be demonstrated in a practical sense on the day. You are guaranteed to learn a lot which includes cool musical “short cuts”. So you can think of the Foundations Exp as a great introduction to creative music making. A work book will be provided on the day as part of the experience. Specific parts of the book are required to be filled in during the day which will serve as important reminders of particular learning tools and mechanisms for future reference.
No. Some of the content might be a bit challenging, but you will be challenged in a positive way – one that is dynamic and inspiring. You will witness at first hand what is possible if you follow the techniques shown to you. This should motivate you into wanting to learn more. Each topic in the course starts from scratch, so you will be able to achieve a good “grounding” straight away. You will be shown how simple some aspects of music can be. You will also have the workbook to use as a reference of what was covered on the experience for use at home.
I am self taught and have a good ear but don’t have a clue about what I’m playing. Will the Experiences be able to help me?
Most definitely. Attributing names and formulas to your working methods will benefit your comprehension and long term development in music. If you don’t know what you are doing, how do you progress? What are the options available to you? The Foundations Exp will provide you with a strong and versatile base knowledge and Concepts Exp will provide you with the links to be able to chain your ideas together and expand upon them in a coherent manner. It would be advisable to check The Evaluator to gauge exactly what you do and don’t know before making a decision on which experience to attend.
I am principally into Electronic dance music. How will the Experiences help me to further my writing/production abilities as I see that many of the subjects are not dance related?
Nearly all forms of music are based upon a fundamental set of principles which are extended or elaborated upon according to genre. Dance music is no exception. Using a non musical example, if you want to express yourself using the spoken word, possessing a good vocabulary will allow you to say exactly what you want and to the point. You can choose how you communicate depending on who you are talking to i.e. in a way that is either simplistic or sophisticated. This principle translates to music also. Being able to draw upon a wider resource of musical tools and music vocabulary will allow you to better develop and express your ideas in your chosen genre. You will have more “ingredients” to put into your “mix”.
No. This is covered only in the Hotwired Music Production Pack. This would take up too much time during one day. There is a book within the pack dedicated to showing the techniques of how to read notation. However, the Foundations Exp does introduce certain core rhythm values and explains how to count which is fundamental in being able to read music.
I always found music lessons at school really boring and a big turn off. I love music and would be interested to learn more. How will the Hotwired Experiences be different and sustain my interest?
Dynamic and cognitive presentation is the answer. Showing the really useful facts about “real-world” theoretical issues in a stimulating environment is really important. The “I didn’t know you could do that” response is a common one from attendees. Breaking down the barriers to free the imagination is a vital component also. The imagination is such a powerful tool and is often forgotten about in conventional teaching methods. Using simple tips and tricks can kick-start an amazing creative chain reaction. Participating in fun exercises and group challenges will aid in your learning so that you will leave feeling very inspired.
I have always thought that learning about scales and chords is so uninteresting. Why do they feature as an important part of Hotwired Experiences?
Just the notes of a pentatonic scale (5 notes) can be used to write a whole piece of music. A single chord can serve as the basis for a song if it is used in the right way. There are many options available to us if we open up the right “boxes” - scales and chords can be used equally as compositional models. The type of scale or chord can suggest a musical genre or even act as a cultural reference. Each one can inspire a different idea. The Foundations Exp will show you the truly interesting aspects behind scales and chords. You will be amazed at what you can do from just the use of a few notes.
I am a guitarist and know a lot about scales, chords and theory. Would the Experiences be relevant and beneficial to me?
Most definitely, especially if you write your own music using a software sequencer. Any non keyboard instrumentalist will benefit. As the keyboard is still the standard interface for the PC workstation (DAW), having a basic keyboard technique is of course an advantage. You will be able to program backing tracks using virtual instruments which will enable you to diversify and even create an album on your own without the expense of hiring other musicians. Much of the material in either experience is translatable to the guitar. (Also see 5th box down, Hotwired Music Production Pack) Your keyboard level, in terms of visual reference and playing technique, will dictate whether you should start with Foundations Exp before going onto Concepts Exp. See the Evaluator.
I have passed my grade 5 music theory. Is the outline of the Concepts Experience equivalent in terms of theoretical level?
This experience uses a completely different approach to conventionalism, so using the graded system to evaluate the level of the course could be misleading. There will be some elements that will be familiar to you, and some will be totally new. Each subject starts at ground level and goes up as high as necessary to demonstrate its purpose whilst remaining comprehensible, so someone with a grade 5 theory certificate should have no problem in understanding the principles of the concepts involved. The focus of the experience is to show you how to be creative by a) using what you might already know, but far more effectively and b) to introduce new concepts that will accelerate the learning curve enabling quicker conception and fruition of ideas. You will also be able to re-evaluate music theory from a fresh and alternative perspective. Please see The Evaluator as this will provide you with the means to see if the experience will be suitable for you.
I have grade 8 in piano performance level and sight reading, so will the weekend Concepts Experience be too simplistic for me?
No, not at all. The concepts are probably totally different to what you will have studied previously, especially with regard to creativity. The experience will prompt you into thinking about how you can use your technique to greater effect. You will discover many new topics that won’t have been covered by the examination boards of the ABRSM, LCM and TC for example.
Absolutely. The most frequent comment received from all attendees is how clear the presentation of material is, and how fast one learns (see the testimonials – What people are saying). Some have even said they have learned more during one weekend than through a couple of years of music lessons and study. A big selling point of either of the experiences is the level of inspiration that is generated. The topics are presented in an alternative and more exhilarating way than in most conventional teaching methods. Watching Mat McKinley play something and then explain it visually in a clear cut way creates a contagious buzz amongst attendees. They leave feeling enlightened and very positive about their task ahead. Both courses comprise workbooks which can be used to digest what you have learned in the comfort of your own home.
Why should I choose to do a Hotwired Experience over another type of course from a different establishment?
Well, both experiences are unique for a start and provide a very motivating and useful insight into the workings of music from both a practical and theoretical point of view. You really will learn to be a better musician as a result and leave feeling extremely satisfied and stimulated by what you will have witnessed regardless of which experience you have chosen. Both experiences include great workbooks as part of the learning process, the book of the Concepts Exp, being totally unique in terms of its content – this alone sets this experience apart from any other type of course. If you choose to include the Hotwired Music Production Pack when you book an experience (offered at a special price to attendees of either experience), you will walk away with something very special indeed. Hotwired as a brand is very proud of what it offers and the service it gives. You will not find another day or weekend course that provides such high levels of inspiration and quality, let alone quantity of included support material. .
It would be very advantageous to attend the Concepts Exp because this will allow you to further manipulate, and expand on, all of the vocabulary and theory that you learned in the Foundations Exp. You will also learn some great tips on how to be a more grounded musician, a more creative composer and programmer etc. due to the cognitive learning principles which are based on the personal learning experiences of Mat McKinley. A whole new musical world will be opened up in front of you!
Hotwired Music Production Pack
I can’t attend the Hotwired experiences. Will buying the Hotwired Music Production Pack be as an effective way of learning?
Absolutely. These books were written to be used as a “stand alone” information pack and learning tool. They of course compliment the Hotwired experiences just as the Hotwired experiences compliment the books within the pack. All of the books have been written using a systematic approach employing as simple a vocabulary as possible. When the books were conceived, they were done so in a fashion which assumed the reader would have no prior knowledge of music or music theory. The pack also includes audio demos, midi files and video tutorials to compliment the books and further aid in the learning process. The Foundations Exp basically outlines the key points in the books of Pack 1 in a practical, visual and stimulating manner. If you give yourself time to read and follow the books in their suggested order, you will have no problems in progressing quickly and efficiently. The Concepts Exp picks up on the subjects in Pack 2 and shows some different twists and methodology. The only thing you will miss will be the delivery and the “live” cognitive aspects, challenges, exercises and presentations.
As I am totally new to this. Will I be able to understand the books in the Hotwired Music Production Pack?
Yes, most certainly. All of the books introduce each of the topics from scratch. There is a logical order to the text and it is written in an accessible way. There are many diagrams and audio examples as well as Midi files to assist you in your learning. Complicated topics are also explained further with the help of video tutorials.
No, but having access to so much information can only be an advantage. It is there for you when you need it. Without being led, we often don’t explore further than we think we need to. By delving deeper, we find new and unexpected treasures. These can enrich our musical vocabulary even more and lead us onto creating better and more fulfilling compositions.
No. Each book is a vital component within the pack as a whole. The books also cross reference. Even if you have a good knowledge of scales and chords, you will still discover many new forms, as well as new insights into theory and how it can be used in ways in which you may not have thought about.
Technically, yes you can. Many of the formulas and topics can be translated directly to another instrument i.e. scale forms, particular improvisation and composition techniques, specific relationships between scales and chords, and how to read music. Chords can be re-voiced (re-spelled) across many instruments within a harmonic arrangement – obviously for guitarists and other stringed instruments, the approach would need to account for manageable fret/finger positions. The Programming book is really only relative to the keyboard in that it explains about the techniques and mechanics for drum programming and bass programming/ emulation via a midi keyboard. However, there are drum rudiments and interesting pattern formulations which could easily be experimented with via electronic hand percussion or other midi devices. One would really have to evaluate if they could justify the necessary investment of their time in the translation.
It was written especially for those people who are searching for straight forward answers regarding the fundamentals of creativity relating to modern music composition and production. It provides a “low down” and “how to” guide for constructing a piece of music - a complete set of correlated books written in the same writing style which allows continuity of learning and easier comprehension of what can be a rather daunting subject. There are literally hundreds of audio demos composed especially for the books, loads of midi files, hundreds of diagrams and even some self help tests to make sure that you are grasping certain elements. (See the Hotwired Music production Pack page and also the chapter index for an outline of book content). The included video tutorials provide another aspect of learning specific topics. It really is a one stop shop for music learning at home.
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