Professional musicians who are entirely
self-taught are few and far between.

Thus, many of you may wonder if having a teacher is necessary for learning music.

However, it’s more important to consider what it is that teachers provide that’s crucial. And contrary to what many may think, it’s not inheriting their wealth of musical knowledge. What a teacher offers that’s central to learning music is feedback.

I went from music school reject to recording and touring with the San Francisco Symphony. And none of that would have happened without the essential feedback my teachers gave me. It’s a critical component of learning music. You won’t improve unless you are aware of your own mistakes.

We’ve identified one of the most crucial parts of learning music, so now what? Is a musical career without professional instruction is worth considering? Perhaps. But first, let’s explore some of the most effective ways to give yourself constructive criticism.


If your standard practice session includes:

  • Examining recordings of your performances
  • Taking note of everything you want to improve
  • Studying other musical performers

You’re definitely on the right track towards musical success. However, using the scientific method may increase your chances of being a successfully self-taught professional.

Make guesses about what may work and then test each hypothesis. Keep on repeating this process until you find an effective solution. Once you do, apply that solution on a regular basis. Soon after that, you should be able to produce desirable results.

What’s more is that apps like Modacity have features that put the scientific method into context for musicians.

Keep on reading to discover more about how to use this process during your practice sessions.

Record and Reflect

Let’s say you want to improve the richness of sound in a certain piece. First, record yourself and listen to the playback. Second, figure out a method that may possibly prompt improvement. The next step is to then test out whether or not this method is effective.

Test and Practice

After testing your method, examine the results. Was the song richer in sound when you played it this time? If so, to what degree? Is this method reusable? If it is, you should keep using it. If it isn’t, you could repeat the experiment using a refined version of your method. Or, you could decide it’s time to move on and try something else entirely.


Now, true learning doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Mastery requires knowing current standards. And what better way is there to know these standards besides playing for and with others?

Additionally, most music teachers are open to listening to you play. Because of this, they are typically quite helpful in gaining mastery. Apps like Modacity were not meant to replace instruction. The purpose of Modacity specifically is to enable musicians to have effective practice, mastery, and musical expression.

That being said, if you want to try a “Modacity only” music learning challenge, get in touch! We’ll be glad to support you and publicize the challenge!

Marc Gelfo

Marc Gelfo

Marc has been practicing music for 30+ years. After applying cognitive science & computer science to French horn, Marc became an internationally touring symphony musician. His experience includes teaching and performing with thousands of musicians around the world, including the San Francisco Symphony.