The way to freedom

Paramahansa Yogananda moved to the United States of America from his homeland of India in 1920. He respected and loved this country very much. And he appreciated the freedoms that are enjoyed here. He greatly admired Abraham Lincoln as a great soul. He rejoiced when India won it’s independence from England and, in his way, he worked for civil rights in this country. But more important than political freedoms, he recognized the bondage an individual can cause himself by being too attached to things and ideas. We create a magnetism that can steer us in the wrong direction. And it takes an act of will to move in a new and better direction.

So he taught:

“Freedom means the power to act by soul guidance, not the compulsions of desires and habits.”

I have heard ministers say the same thing: Freedom is not doing what you want, but what you should do.

Yogananda has more specifics to add: “Before you act, you have freedom, but after you act, the effect of that action will follow you whether you wanted to or not. That is the law of karma. You are a free agent, but when you perform a certain act, you will reap the results of that act.”

And: “Man’s freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.”

Of course the great focus of Yogananda was to teach the techniques of meditation. So he said:

“The way to happiness is through meditation and being in tune with God.” Which sounds to me like “Love God with all your heart, and soul.”

But after all that is said about freedom, fighting for it, sacrificing for it, defending our country for it, passing laws to insure it, I think one of Yogananda’s most thought provoking ideas about freedom is this:

“The way to freedom is through service to others.”

Which I think might be related to: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The yoga master showed us the way to personal freedom from enslaving attachments. But maybe political freedom could be won and protected through service to others. It’s worth a try.

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Happy July 4, 2019

It has been 243 years since the Continental Congress declared that the 13 original American colonies would no longer be subordinate to the British crown, and signed the Declaration of Independence stating that they were now free and independent.

Thank you to all our men and women in uniform who keep our country free.

Here is a playlist of music for your July 4th enjoyment, from the perfection that is John Philip Sousa’s own band, The President’s Own Marine Band.

And one of our favorite groups is the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

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Jazz Bagpipes

I had a great time playing bagpipes with the Corona Del Mar High School jazz rhythm section at our annual Jazz Café.

We played Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good.” The kids and I just had two rehearsals. They learned the tune from a lead sheet and videos. I think they did a great job and it was fun to work with them. 

Several people commented that they had never heard bagpipes played with other instruments, and were surprised how good they sounded together.

The first time I heard bagpipes with other instruments was on a recording of Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons S. 66 by P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele). If you have not heard this comedy classic, you must take a few minutes and listen to the recording on the Peter Schickele YouTube channel, This is a re-release of the 1966 album: https://youtu.be/RjqW3ec5_Nk

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Dusty Strings at NAMM 2019

DUSTY STRINGS
https://manufacturing.dustystrings.com

At NAMM 2019 in Anaheim, I met up with friend Patti Amelotte at the Dusty Strings booth. Dusty Strings, of Seattle, WA, makes beautiful, high quality hammered dulcimers and lever harps. Here is a video of Patti playing President Garfield’s hornpipe on one of their beautiful hammered dulcimers.

Sorry, Patti, I think I distracted you there in the middle.

Patti even gave me a lesson. Well it’s kind of an annual thing because I forget how the notes are arranged so Patti reminds me each year! My wife loves this instrument! Someday we will have room for one so I  can practice and remember where the notes are!

https://manufacturing.dustystrings.com

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What is the NAMM Show?

The National Association Of Music Merchants (NAMM) hosts 2 annual conferences; Summer in Nashville, and Winter in Anaheim, CA. It is a trade show, not a consumer show. But musicians want to get in to look st all the cool new stuff. I often attend on an educator badge. This year I met some wonderful people and thought I would let my you see what the show is like.

It is noisy! Lots of instruments, sound systems, talking, showing off! Fun though. My favorite thing was walking up to a booth that has an unusual instrument and asking, ”What is this and how does it work?” Or “What makes this special?” That’s why the companies are there, to share their carefully crafted, new products. I’ll share those with you at a later date.

Today I have a video of walking around the floor, so you get an idea of what it is like:

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What can I do now?

Last night on “The President and the People” Townhall meeting, the discussion centered on recent violence in the US and improving police/community relations. Toya Graham, who became known as #motheroftheyear last year for pulling her son out of the Baltimore protest, got to speak with the president and ask him a question. She asked “What can I do?” I was so proud of her!

If I was the president I might have asked, “What would you like to say to your neighbors?”
I suspect she would have responded, “Follow my example.”

The president and all of our elected officials are doing what they can. But why should we wait for them? What can we do right now to stop violence in the world? Check on your kids. If they have guns, take them away. If they are misbehaving, remind them how to behave. And show your kids that you love them. Even if you can’t do anything else, tell them “I love you.” Every day.

Get to know your neighbors; at least be polite to them. Offer to help in some way. You never know how much a kind word can deter violence.Maybe this is the best start for true gun control and mental health. Without these things laws and more police probably won’t help.

In addition, we must all be extremely careful about what we post on social media. Misunderstandings and outright falsehoods are often quoted and reposted as truth. Have you gotten emotional about something later found out to be untrue? These false posts and spam emails that are designed to get people overly emotional about something and repost/forward the story may be more harmful to society than we realize. And we can stop it right now without legislation.
Check your sources.

If you read about a new law that seems completely ridiculous, or heathenish horrors happening overseas; do not repost it. How can you be sure someone didn’t just make up the story to get you to click on his story to make money? Posts that denigrate a religion or culture not your own may help you feel superior, until you find out that post was a lie. Don’t act on lies. That literally causes unnecessary violence in thoughts, words, and actions.

Rather than commenting on supposed facts that could turn out to be falsehoods, comment on principles, ideas, ideals you hold to be true. Don’t repost inflammatory articles. Make your own comments on what ideas you think to be truthful and good.
If you hear someone hit so and so, but you really don’t know if it’s true, you may still comment on what you think about hitting.

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Piano Damper Pedal

This is a tutorial on some of the special points about the use of the piano’s damper pedal.

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Pushing down the right pedal of a piano lifts the dampers off the strings so they ring freely.

There are several points along this up and down traveling of which to be aware.

______ 1. The top, when the pedal hits the wood.

______ 2. Where the dampers begin to lift off the strings.

25% down

50% down

75% down

______ 3. Where the dampers have all cleared the strings.

______ 4. The very bottom of travel.

The distances will vary from piano to piano. But the attentive pianist will feel and hear these positions as soon as she/he sits down to play.

  • Use the damper pedal between the two inner points (2. and 3.) to avoid clunking.
  • Listen to the sound with the pedal pushed down half-way; 25%, 75%, 10%, 90% etc.
  • Slowly lift the pedal (float off) to adjust the speed of dampening.
  • Often bass notes may tend to ring with more strength, because of the momentum of the bigger strings. So you can float off treble notes while the bass notes ring through.
  • Hold down a consonant chord while the pedal is holding a cacophony. Then slowly lift the foot off the pedal and hear the sound resolve to the held chord.

Following is a video showing these ideas:

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