Include music in your New Year resolutions

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I asked my Facebook friends about their music-related resolutions and here’s what they told me. I’m thinking some of these will be good for me, too. Music can be calming, energizing, distracting, fun, and if you play it, forges new neural pathways. 

instruments

Learn to play an instrument

Already play an instrument? Learn a related one. Guitar players, try a ukulele or a mandolin. Flute players, pick up a sax. Even if you’ve never played before, there are some instruments that are fairly easy, like dulcimer or hand drum. More about that here. Want lessons? I offer lessons in my home studio in Ottawa, Ontario and anywhere via Skype. Contact me for details.

shower singer

Sing more

Everyone can sing. I don’t care what you were told in your grade school music class. You don’t have to be good enough to be at Carnegie Hall, just belt it – in the shower, your car, for your kids, in a community choir, at church – it’ll feel good, I guarantee it.

coffeehouse music

Listen to live music

It’s everywhere – your local bar, coffeehouse, blues pub, festivals, house concerts, the street … it doesn’t mean shelling out $200 for Katy Perry although that might be good, too.

Kitten-in-headphones

Listen to recorded music

A good music mix helps a gym workout, is great for yoga, energizes at the start of the day, seems to shorten a long commute … the list is long. And if you need a CD from a certain singer-songwriter, you can find it here.

community jam

Find community music-making opportunities

There’s all kinds of jams out there, whether you’re a hotshot bluegrass guitarist or a beginning drummer. Google your instrument, city and “jam.” More about that here.

Photo 2013

Ottawa Valley Special, the band I found with Kijiji.

Start or join a band. I found some great players through Kijiji (like Craig’s List but used more in Canada) and we’ve had a ton of fun playing gigs. Find out more about us here.

building a dulcimer

Build an instrument

Check out the cool ukulele and dulcimer kits you can buy. I have a friend who built her own dulcimer and she’s not the kind of person with a garage full of saws. There’s a lot of satisfaction in playing an instrument you made.

Learn some new songs

Already play guitar, but your family is getting tired of “Stairway to Heaven?” Try this site. He’s got lots of accurate tab. Great for ukulele and mandolin, too.

Especially for musicians:

Spruce up your promo. Update your website. Hire a good designer or do it yourself on free sites like Reverbnation and WordPress.

Need a new bio? Get some tips here or hire me – I’ve written a pile of them. I’m affordable, offer quick turnaround and no one will need Red Bull to get through it. Contact me here.

Explore different time signatures. Sure, we know all about 4 and 3, but there’s a world of other times out there.

Practice. Treat it like a good meal. You know you need to eat your vegetables, so eat your <insert hated vegetable here> and do the not-so-fun stuff first. (For me, that means scales and sometimes, a song I need to learn for a student.) Then, for dessert, learn that blues lick you’re excited about. And remember, every practice session doesn’t have to be a marathon. Even fifteen minutes a day will help.

songwriting

Write. Even if you’re not Bach, you’re exercising that writing muscle and that’s always a good thing. Want some writing tips for funny songs? Find them here. Or contact me. After writing a couple hundred songs, putting out ten albums and teaching numerous songwriting courses, I’ve got a good handle on how things work.

standup bass

Play out more. Talk to your friends who are gigging and ask them questions. Maybe you could share a bill. Check out this post. Or consult with me. I’ve toured for almost thirty years and I’m happy to give you some tips for a reasonable consulting fee. (And I mean reasonable – I made my living exclusively through performing for years so I know what it’s like to scrape together those pennies.)

Get your instrument fixed. Enough excuses. You want to play, right?

Want to see resolutions from last year? Find ’em here.

What are your music resolutions for the new year?

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Big thanks to my Facebook friends. It’s like having 2,603 more brains.

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About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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