Look What I Found!

I only have three closets in my house and they are all very small. Having such limited storage space is a good way to keep from collecting more than I need, but it requires periods of relentless clearing. While digging deeper than usual last night, I broke into a box of memorabilia that I hadn’t inspected in years and found this item that I loved as a kid – a “rhythm tote” from the 50’s. It belonged to my “big sister” (sorry, Laney – not quite sure how I ended up with it), which, of course, added to the cool factor.

What is it about bags, totes, albums and such that kids like so much? This album was especially cool, because it held records  – and check out that picture of the teenagers spinning 45’s.

Of course I had run across this in other cleaning frenzies, but this time I decided to see what records were in it. Much to my surprise, I found a 45 of  The Starlettes! Who knew? I had forgotten that such a thing existed. Here’s proof:

Side 1 – April Showers; Sentimental Journey
Side 2 – Down By The Riverside; A La Puerta; Now The Day Is OverOf course, I will need to find my adapter to be able to play it. (Yes, I have a turntable.) I have a feeling these are the same cuts that are on the CD and they probably sound a lot scratchier, but that’s part of the beauty of vinyl. Now if only there were a video somewhere of the performance on the Ames Brothers Show…

Guitar Gifts under $25 – Ideas, Advice and Opinions

It’s that time of year! Whether you have a guitar player on your gift list or you’re making a wish list of your own, you might want to check out some of my ideas and recommendations. I’m all for simple and inexpensive, so nothing on this list tops $25.00.
Tuner – Your guitar player will certainly want a reliable tuner. There are plenty of good ones on the market, but my under $25 choices are the Fender Sparkle Tone ($19.99) and the Korg clip-on tuner ($24.99). If you can spend a few more dollars, you might want to check out some of the other clip-on tuners available.
Music Stand – As important as it is to use a music stand when playing, a lot of people try to get by without one, due to the price of a quality stand. We now have some options for reasonably priced stands that are also strong and stable. Check out this sturdy stand that sells for $24.99.
Metronome – Everybody who plays a guitar needs a metronome, but unfortunately, many guitar players don’t own one. We can change that!
Metronomes drive a lot of people crazy and one of the reasons is the sound itself. If I had to play with one that produced a tone (beep), I would never turn it on! Buy a metronome with a click or wood block sound rather than a tone and everyone (teacher included) will be much happier. My current favorite is the Matrix mr500 – it has a good sound, an easy to use dial and an earphone option, all for $24.99.
If you are giving to someone who has never used a metronome, include a link to this instructive article (free, of course) on the site. There is also a downloadable video on metronome use available for $7.95.
Guitar straps are fun to give, because there are so many cool ones to choose from and they can be personalized. Remember, though, that using a strap can create tension and pain for many players, so unless your recipient is a performing musician who stands when playing onstage, consider a safer gift.
Instruction books and videos – something for every level, starting at $15.00. Also, consider a gift certificate for a lesson – any length lesson is available, so you can choose one to suit your budget.
T-Shirts – There is no shortage of guitar apparel to be found online. Check out my favorite T-shirt ($15.00).
For good stocking stuffers, think about guitar themed magnets, calendars, mugs, caps, key chains, earrings, necklaces, mousepads and more. Other good stocking stuffers are strings, cords and picks, but before you buy these gifts be sure you know the personal preference of your recipient. You can find plenty of sites that sell guitar accessories online – and don’t forget to look at some of the wonderful hand-made items on Etsy. Happy shopping!

Thoughts on Fun

In contemplating the fun/frustration cycle that I addressed in a previous post, I’m questioning what constitutes fun for most people and why people who shy away from work tend to do so. I’ve gathered observations over many years regarding the way different people define and respond to work, but that’s a subject for another day. Right now I’m thinking about fun!

Here is a list of some of the qualities that I consider to be characteristic of a fun experience:

We are in the moment; we are completely present
We possess an absence of self-awareness; we are uninhibited
We have a joyful and childlike sense of wonder
We are void of expectations
We feel unbound by rigid rules
We have a willingness to laugh and play; we allow our sense of humor to run free

If we are able to access these qualities during practice time, will we increasingly enjoy the challenges in our work? I think that habitually pursuing and engaging in playfulness, wonder and presence and disallowing inhibitions, expectations, rigidity and self-judgment makes our practice time not only more enjoyable, but also more productive. In addition, by cultivating these qualities we increase our creativity!

What are your thoughts? What does fun mean to you and how do you bring it into your life and musical practice?