Music as a Means of Service

     On this auspicious afternoon of New Year's 2015, I would like to pose a new idea for the upcoming year.  While resolving to lose the ten pounds gained over the holidays, train for a marathon, eat more vegetables or spend more quality time with the people closest to your heart, consider another option.  How about spending time helping out a stranger.

     I'm not proposing anything dangerous.  Rather, learning even the most basic of music and taking that ability to comfort others is a rare and treasured gift.  Help your child who takes piano lessons to share that gift by playing at meal time in the local nursing home.  The benefits are immeasurable on both sides of the piano.  Residents of nursing homes are the most forgotten people in America.  Rarely are they valued for their wisdom and experience.  I have seen residents, who normally would skip meals due to depression, attend dinner or lunch because a student of mine was going to play during the meal.  While care workers argued and argued that they needed to eat, an eight year old armed with a level one piano book brought the resident to the table. 

     For the student, young or old, the experience of playing in front of a crowd, ANY crowd is fantastic.  In music, with confidence comes inspiration and from inspiration comes confidence.  There is no kinder or more praise giving audience than a nursing home residency.  Budding musicians overcome stage fright.  They learn that their talent is appreciated.  On rare occasions, they hear a special calling to use that music in a lifelong career of music therapy.

     The biggest payoff is that sense of community.  Forget any other motivations of religion, honor society hours or resume building.  Playing music as a volunteer is an act that betters humanity and community.  You don't have to count calories, run an extra mile or stand on a scale to measure what sharing a musical gift can do to better one's little piece of the world.

Buying Local Means Big Impact

Michele Roger is both a harpist and an author.  Like many artists in the Detroit area, buying her CDs and books or hiring her for a live performance means a lot.  Unlike buying an ebook or digital music download, local purchases put fifty percent or more revenue back in the pocket of the artist.  The average return on an ebook or digital download is closer to ten percent.

That greater return for her work generally is put back into her local community.  Since she too values buying local and supporting small businesses, and hence, her higher return boosts the local economy in ways that make a greater impact.

A Michigan winter is nothing to take lightly.  It's cold. The roads are often anxiety inducing.  The temptation to stay at home, pajama clad and shopping from one's computer with a mug of steaming coffee is great.  With free shipping, the odds of major holiday purchases being made online is more likely than ever. 

Remember the local artist and what they have to offer.  Be it original painting, furniture, CD, book and handmade item, their wares are often unlike anything you can get from a big chain.  The pay off in smiles and appreciation as you watch loved ones open gifts will yield dividends both personally as well as for the local economy.

Wedding Music Should Be Personal

Wedding Music Should Be Personal

Often, the music for a wedding is the last thing a bridal couple or their planner thinks about.  Then, at the last minute, a harpist like me is called and 9 times out of 10 I get the same request.  "Just play something beautiful."  While nearly everything sounds beautiful on the harp (with the exception of The Final Countdown, Here Comes the Bride and You Shook Me All Night Long....yes, all of those have been real life requests made from bridal parties) wedding music should be personal.

If Patsy Cline was playing in the background on a first date, play it at the wedding.  If the flower girl's favorite music box plays "I'm a Little Tea Pot" and she knows that will be her cue, play it at the wedding.  But please, oh please do not pick Canon in D just because its the only classical song deemed appropriate for your idea of a wedding. 

The rule of thumb is, you only get married once.  Make the day yours.  YOURS!  Not your mother's.  Not your wedding planner's.  Not the latest trend.  Yours.

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