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.
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
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!
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:
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.
Although I am the older and more experienced musician, Alyssa took charge of this project. She had a clear vision of what songs would be appropriate to include on this album; and how to present each song, including the approach to my accompaniments. She wasn’t overbearing but gave me complete freedom to create accompaniments that would support the style she wanted. Sometimes I used printed music, other times I could improvise something much more interesting and poignant. It is an album worth listening closely to, and also one you might play softly with a fire in the fireplace, a cup of tea and a good book.
Music can seem magical, but often it’s the conscious choices that allow the musicians to do their jobs, really well, so they make a home for the magic.
There is a well-circulated story about an experiment that had violinist Joshua Bell playing Bach suites in a New York subway. This got very little crowd response, and only $32, which disappointed many readers of the story. This was an interesting experiment. However, many potentially wonderful ramifications are overlooked in analyses.
You will never know how many people appreciated the music and even were inspired. They were there to catch a subway and stopping was simply not an option; but they still heard the music; and even a little can make an impression. Not everyone likes classical music, violin, or street musicians of any kind; yet this may have opened them up to something new. Still others may have recognized Bell, and Bach, but did not want to interrupt or seem foolish: “what would I say to Joshua Bell?”
Outer recognition, applause and money are parts of the business of music; but not the only parts.
Music is a primary subject. It is one of the creative areas in which people take an interest, because they like it and see it as healthy, invigorating, worthwhile, inspiring, wonderful; not because it is a step to something else.
The arts, athletics and all creative areas attract kids and adults because they are enjoyable; they are good to do; good for life. And music provides all the mind-body coordination of sports, without the bodily danger!
While research shows that studying music can strengthen the mind in other subjects, most people want to learn music just because they love music and find it interesting, not for some other reason. So, I am willing to study math, English and history, and work at getting good grades in order to be a better and more successful musician. The musical interest is first and drives the desire to be good in other subjects, so I can get scholarships, get into a better college, better job or whatever.
Music is not in schools to help academic scores, academics are in school to help kids be better musicians and improve growth in all creative areas.