September 29th World Heart Day

September 29th World Heart Day

Today we celebrate one of those organs we just can’t live without. It’s time, if you haven’t already started, to learn how to take care of your heart. It does not do well with smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, air pollution, Chagas Disease or cardiac amyloidosis. Exercise, proper diet and conditioning are among those things that can help your heart keep working. It seems appropriate to me that the heart is associated with love since if you don’t have a heart, you aren’t going to love anyone for very long. Today was created by the World Heart Federation.

How to celebrate – Take care of your heart. Find out what foods you can eat that help your heart. Remember your heart doesn’t really belong to daddy.

May 22nd National Buy A Musical Instrument Day

Music can calm the beast. Music is used as therapy. Music can help us remember fond moments we have had in the past. Or, music can bring you instant joy by playing it yourself. You get a sense of accomplishment and may even inspire others!

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Renting or borrowing a musical instrument is almost a sure way to prove you are not going to learn how to play it. Even before you have started you are giving yourself an out for quitting. Buy one, showing that commitment and sometimes forcing yourself to learn something because you spent good money on it is the only way to be successful.

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And don;t buy a piece of junk. Learning a musical instrument can be challenging enough. I use to teach guitar and I saw so many people buying their children a $50.00 special and I knew the child was not going to learn to play. Pros don’t play on $50.00 specials where the strings are a mile from the fret board and it will not tune properly. How can you expect a student to play such an instrument?

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Years ago, people bought organs for home entertainment, instrument that had so many automatic features on them that they required little effort to play. Thankfully it seems those days are long gone by. If you are going to play, even if it’s just for fun, learn to play the right way.

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And if you really want to annoy the family, the neighbors and the entire block, buy a set of drums and start learning how to play. That way, everyone can enjoy your effort! Seriously though, buy a musical instrument and give it a go. The only thing you can regret is that you never tried at all.

How to celebrate -Choose a musical instrument to buy. Make sure you are having fun, you won’t learn otherwise. Make the investment in yourself to create your own memories.

May 22nd National Buy A Musical Instrument Day

Just listening to music can change your day, your attitude and your life.  It brings us joy, makes us sad, helps us remember and gives us something to look forward to.  Most people can associate something in their lives where music was playing, it could be a song on the radio, a concert, a school band or just somebody humming a tune in an elevator.

But instead of standing by while someone else creates the music why not become one of them?  Of all the instruments available there should be at least one that you can find some ability at.  The rewards it will bring you will amaze you.

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I started out on guitar.  For much of my life I made my living playing guitar.  I was never that great, but I was more than adequate, and I made lots of friends, a living, and enjoyed nearly every minute I performed, rehearsed, or just sat by a bon fire playing for fun.  The one piece of advice I would give everyone is, buy something of quality. For years I taught people to play guitar and they would come in with a $50.00 special that only Superman could press the strings down on. It was defeating the students before they could ever get started. On a quality guitar the strings nearly lay on the fretboard giving no resistance, allowing the player to move quickly and freely, not leaving your fingers bloody and bruised. It makes all the difference in the world, and it sounds better too!

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I also played keyboards. (Piano, organ, etc.) and found the exact same thing.  The better the piano, the better it played. Believe it or not, there are less notes on a piano than a guitar but oh what you can do with it if you learn to play well enough. Even if you just learn a little you can still entertain yourself and friends. The most popular songs are the simplest. It’s done that way on purpose.  It takes a more advanced ear to appreciate jazz and all the changes that take place, but pop songs are normal pretty easy, hence why they are generally more popular.

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I also played trumpet, but very badly.  I learned to play before I learned my rule about quality. The trumpet I learned on was cheap (though none of them are really cheap), and it was hard to blow, it didn’t sound very clean (probably because it was hard to blow), and the values stuck a lot. Later on I tried a much higher quality trumpet and I found I could actually make it sound decent!  What a surprise! By then I had moved on to other instruments and never really went back to it.

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And of course there is the violin. It can sound so good in the right hands but when played wrong, it’s really, really bad. Once again, the strings need to rest close to the neck, the bow needs to be a decent quality for the rosin to work properly, and the tuning pegs need to work, not constantly slip.

Not all musical instruments have to be expensive to be good, a harmonica is a cheap instrument to play. You can carry it with you where ever you go and it sounds good whether it’s played alone or in a group.

Just remember to purchase something worth while. Even if you don’t stick with it, many instruments increase in value as time goes along. My main guitar is a 1958 Gibson ES 345. When it was brand new it sold for about $200.00, the last offer I got for it was above $7,000.00 and I turned it down.

How to celebrate: Buy some sort of a musical instrument and give it a try. Encourage others who are just learning.  Learn what makes one instrument better than another, and which one is for you.