April 11th National Eight Track Tape Day

Come on admit it it! If you are old as I am you probably still have an eight track tape of one or two of the artists you thought you could never replace. Here again, if you are like me you no longer have a working eight track tape player so the cartridge is useless but you still can’t bring yourself to throw away that tape because, well, it’s a memory you sort of like to be reminded of.

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For those younger folks, it was a storage unit for the music you liked to listen to. It was small enough that you could actually have a player in your car instead of having to wait until you got home to listen to your favorite band. It was created by a man named William Lear and I m sure that he ended up very wealthy.

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It definitely is a 60’s and 70’s kind of thing.  You will probably never find an eight track of Justin Beiber, which could be a good reason to go back to 8 tracks! The way we listen to music will probably continue to change over the years to come. For the most part, it’s better, the cartridges are smaller and store more now. You can carry an entire decade of music in your pocket now. The quality is better and playback decisively improved. But it seems like something we expect these days and we are no longer as impressed as when the 8 track first came out.

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The 8 track has gone the way of 37 cent a gallon gasoline and record stores where you could go spend hours looking at what was new on the latest releases. But in some ways there will always be a place for the 8 track in our hearts. It was so new and innovative in it’s time it revolutionized the world, and those who benefited from music sales.

How to celebrate – Dig out your old 8 tracks. See if you can find a working 8 track player. Dress up in 60’s or 70’s clothing.

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February 3rd National The Day the Music Died Day

The Day the Music Died Day – Feb. 3rd

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February 3rd, 1959 Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) took off on a plane flight to Moorhead, Minnesota but they never got there. In fact they only got a few miles away, crashing at Clear Lake. Don McLean wrote “American Pie” to honor them stating it was the day the music died. Fate had stepped in for Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup, who were supposed to be on the plane but lost their seats to Richardson and Valens.

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How to pay respects – Listen to American Pie (give yourself some time because it’s rather long). Learn about Holly, Valens, and Richardson. Remember all those musicians who have passed away.

January 28th National Kazoo Day

If there is one musical instrument that anybody can play, it’s the kazoo. If you can hum, you can play and in most cases you don;t even have to be in tune. You might think that it is such a simple musical instrument it would be very, very old. Well it is old, but not all that ancient.

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Alabama Vest dreamed up the idea of the kazoo but was not capable to making the instrument themselves so they went to clock maker Thaddeus Von Clegg who crafted the instrument in the 1840’s. You can just imagine twenty years later how scary the idea might have been if a 50,000 man army during the Civil War all marched into battle playing a kazoo. Well, scary might not be exactly the word I am searching for.

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The kazoo was commercially manufactured beginning in 1912 when Emil Sorg began producing the instrument in Western New York. While most of us are familiar with the simple plastic kazoo we find in any novelty store but the metal ones, like those made before plastics, have the better tonal quality and there are even semi-professional kazoos that are made from the highest quality materials.

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Of course, most of us are content with the simpler version we can buy cheaply, easily and requires no real talent to play. The idea of the kazoo is to just have fun. You don’t need to spend years learning to play it and it ideal to share in a group.

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How to celebrate – Go get a kazoo! Start a kazoo band with your family and friends. Try playing a kazoo in a crowded elevator and see what reaction you get.

December 13th National Violin Day

For years, the violin was to popular music what the guitar is today, and recently it has been making quite a comeback. A classical instrument by nature, it is widely used in concerts performed by orchestras, country music, and in some forms of rock. Now it is becoming popular in every medium.

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Probably the most widely known violinist today is Lindsey Stirling. She is not only a beautiful woman but a world-class violinist, dancer and performer. Such talent is rare to find anymore although she didn’t really become aware of her talent until she failed at America’s Got Talent and nearly quit. She owes much of her fame to YouTube.

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Celtic Woman also incorporate violins into their performances. It is key to most Irish music. It can be joyful, melancholy or symphonic when placed into the right hands. In hands of  a student it can also be quite annoying!

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Like any instrument, the finest ever made was hand crafted, made in the 1600’s by Stradivarius. They are widely sought after but astronomically priced as any piece of precious art.  And don’t trust that it is a Stradivarius just because it says it is.

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How to celebrate – Find out if you have any hidden talent for playing the violin. Most Christmas music will have a violin in it somewhere. Learn about what makes one violin better than another.

November 27th National Pins And Needles Day

Anxious? Nervous? Just can’t wait anymore? If you are feeling any of those things then you will enjoy today, it’s Pins And Needles Day. The idea I suppose comes to us from sitting on pins or needles, not a very comforting thought.

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It actually comes to us from a play on Broadway called, Pins and Needles. It was written by Harold Rome and ran for 1108 performances in 1937 and was introduced by the Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Now it makes sense! They used pins and needles in their everyday work! And they felt unappreciated and wanted better pay along with being treated like human beings. Imagine that!

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Since then, most people have forgotten about the play but it’s title has continued to be used as a typical cliche from the past. The labor unions form in the early part of the 1900’s had a strong effect on America and I suppose across the world. Most say they were good, some questioned what was gained verses what was lost.

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The world, in the mean time, is filled with pins and needles. Sewing needles, hypodermic needles, needles used to fill balls with air, safety pins, bobby pins, push pins… it’s almost impossible to go through a day without encountering one kind of pin or needle. They have served mankind well. Of course they have also caused damage and are often associated with drug use.

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How to celebrate – Think of all the items held together in your home by pins and needles. See how many different types of pins and needles you can name. Check out the play “Pins and Needles”.

May 27th International Jazz Day

Mainland Europe gave us Classical music, England gave us Rock & Roll but America gave the world jazz! Truly an American contribution, jazz is enjoyed world wide by nearly every age. it has influenced so many other styles of music, but also been influenced by many other forms of music.

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Born in New Orleans, La. in the 1800’s it is a mix of blues, Dixieland, soul and even classical music roots but also is an art form of it’s own. Whenever a style of music is not completely understood it seems to get placed in the jazz category. And while many individuals enjoy jazz it is a musicians choice of freedom from the boundaries placed on other forms of music.

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Artists such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Chick Correa are headliners of the jazz field but thousands upon thousands have placed their own variations on the theme. Only the best of the best get a career in jazz, some of the best players in the world survive in small clubs creating their art so a non-mainstream audience.

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International Jazz Day was created by D. Michael Denny, on the board of directors of the New Jersey Jazz Society in 1991. It was also placed in the government by a statement that same year in the U.S. Congressional Record.

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How to celebrate – Find a jazz club and go hear some good music tonight. Buy a Cd of jazz and educate yourself to some of the best artists in that category. Visit New Orleans, home of jazz.

May 22nd National Buy A Musical Instrument Day

What a great way to start a Monday… trying to figure out which musical instrument you will buy and learn how to play, or start playing again if you played it years ago. There is a feeling of accomplishment even if you can play just a little bit, a song or two is good enough.

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Probably the most popular instrument to play is the piano. Now a grand piano might set you back 15 to 20 thousand dollars so I wouldn’t suggest starting there. But you can buy a cheaper piano, for maybe 2 or 3 thousand or a keyboard for a couple of hundred.  Now don’t expect to become Liberace over night, that may take a lifetime and many, many people don’t want to go there anyway, but again lower you expectations and learn a song or two. Impress your friends but never, never take requests.

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Now if you are the type that likes to annoy others, try the drums! Nothing wrong with drums at all but if you listen to someone play something loudly who has no idea how to play it, it does have its drawbacks. The nice thing about the drums are you generally can’t hear the complaints over your drumming. A drum set may cost you anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand or more. Or you can buy drum pads while you are learning and keep your friends! They shouldn’t cost you more than 10 or 20 dollars.

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I spent my youth as a guitarist. I practiced day and night, hour after hour and finally got pretty decent. A guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn, and is the most difficult to master. In fact, there are more notes on the average guitar than a piano, meaning there are more combinations than any other instrument on the market. When I traveled, I carried 56 guitars with me.  To this day I have no idea why. Anyway, if you chose a guitar please don’t buy a 50 dollar special, you are guaranteed not to learn it. That is partially why pros do not play on them. Give yourself a chance and spend at least a couple of hundred if not more. If you don’t stick with it you’ll at least be able to get more back out of it.

How to celebrate – Find a musical instrument that interests you. Careful of the instruments that look simple, none of them are simple… except maybe the kazoo. At least go to a music store, not a Walmart, and look at the instruments.