May 22nd National Buy A Musical Instrument Day

Music calms the beast inside of us. That is, of course, unless you get frustrated trying to learn it. But really, think about your life without music. And the only way music is created is by people playing instruments. (Yes, the voice is considered an instrument as well) If you have space, you might want to consider buying a grand piano or a tuba. If not, try a harmonica or a jaw harp. My personal love is the guitar, of which at one time I owned 56. You never know where it might take you. You could go from hours of fun to becoming a rock star! (If that’s your thing) Music makes the world go round and you can be a part of that just by buying a musical instrument. Oh, and renting it, well that’s just an excuse for giving it up!

How to celebrate – Select the musical instrument that best fits your situation. Take a few lessons to help you learn. Look for instruments that grow in value.

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.

April 11th Barbershop Quartet Day

What can be more fun than listening to a Barbershop Quartet?  Four part harmony that blends together a Lead, Tenor, Baritone and Bass.  (Normally male but there are also many female quartets as well.)  Now you might think that these quartets come from Gospel and Minstrels and of course, many do.  However, even back in Shakespeare’s day there were groups that performed exactly like the modern, or more modern, day groups.  They were often accompanied by a lute but nothing else.

The Barbershop quartet became popular in America during the late 1800’s, often accompanied by a banjo.  In more recent years most barbershop is done a-capella, without musical accompaniment. On April 11th, 1938 the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, named April 11th as Barbershop Quartet Day.  Songs like, “Shine On Harvest Moon”, “Hello, Ma Baby” and “Sweet Adeline” have become classics for the Barbershoppers.

If you stop and think about it, rock and roll, R&B and many other modern day forms of music owe a lot to the barbershop quartet.  4 part harmony, a mainstay of many hits started with barbershop techniques. The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Mamma’s & Papa’s, all have roots deep in the barbershop history.  If you ever watched the film, “The Music Man” it was filled with barbershop quartet material.  The Buffalo Bills performed at Robert Preston’s will bringing a lighter and funnier side to the movie.  And who hasn’t taken that ride at Disney where the barbershop grave quartet perform on a “nightly” basis.

To celebrate, listen to a barbershop quartet.  Try singing in a barbershop quartet.  Come up with your own list of modern-day musical performers that use barbershop stylings.