About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Music Monday

Something a little different from the normal Wild Birds Unlimited Blog, a Guest Blogger (my brother Dan)...

One of my New Year resolutions is to become better at playing a musical instrument. As part of that resolution, I’m going to try to write a Monday Music Blog to relate my experiences and also to encourage YOU to join a musical group. After all, one of the reasons to watch and feed birds is to experience their musical talent. But birds are not born with the gift of music, they have to learn their songs just like the rest of us. And if a little ol' bird can learn then I figure we can too.

One of the best ways to learn an instrument is to play with a supportive group. If you are in the Lansing Michigan area, a great group to try is the New Horizons Band because they are set up to support those of us that are just learning or wanting to play for fun. If you are not nearby, New Horizons has bands all over the world or you can set up a band in your area. Check out New Horizons here. I joined the band in 2017 and to find out more about my experiences you can continue reading on upcoming Mondays, but first, a brief pitch for the New Horizons Band at MSU.

My son has a background on his computer that says “Better days are coming, they are called Saturday and Sunday.” I like my weekends, but the days I look forward to most are Monday and Tuesday. Those are the days when I get to play music in the New Horizons Band at Michigan State University Community Music School. If you are not familiar with the New Horizons Band (NHB), it is a band for adults who want to learn to play a band instrument for the first time or for those who wish to relearn an instrument. NHB at MSU has members that range in age from late teens to their early nineties, with many like me in their 50s, or 60s and 70+s. Some have been playing an instrument for years and others are absolute beginners but the environment is welcoming to any level of playing ability and help is available to teach those that would like it. Frequently, what you will hear is someone saying they played when they were in high school but haven’t touched an instrument since then. Some people will take some private lessons for a month or so just to refresh note reading or fingerings. It does help but just playing in the group is probably the most helpful and others around you will assist if you ask. And you don’t have to be perfect. One of the often-repeated ideas is that if you cannot play the whole thing, at least try to play one note. Every time that note comes up in the music, you can play and contribute to the song. Once you've mastered that note, add another. And in no time, you are playing all the notes.

Where the NHB really excels is in providing encouragement and support from others in the band. Because if you are like me, you are going to miss a note or few but others in the group are there to cover, and the finished product actually sounds pretty good (listen to video of the MSU fight song), NHB has no musical requirements for admission except for a desire to have fun learning to play music. If you would like to learn more NHB at MSU, you are welcome to send an email to me at zarkadan@gmail.com, but I also encourage to check out the Community Music School at Michigan State University link for NHB (http://www.cms.msu.edu/el/adults/horizonsBand.php) – they also have great private instructors. Listen to a sample: https://youtu.be/qCJx2DNduRg

(P.S. There has been some quiet conversions about adding a New Horizons String Orchestra to the program and if you are interested in strings more than a wind instrument, send me an email so that I can relate the level of interest for this.)

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