Tap into your playful essence and Follow The Sound
August 24, 2020
The benefits humans get from music are nearly endless. Whether it’s a feeling of love or laughter or somber meditation, music is a part of all of our lives in some form or fashion. Some of us play one or more instruments. Others love to sing, whistle, or hum tunes while driving down the road or strolling through the woods. Music is one of the most natural forms of expression and communication on earth.
Perhaps you’d like to take up playing an instrument, but don’t have the time or think you’re beyond the point of learning. We can tell you that the latter is absolutely not true. It’s never too late!
The easiest instruments to learn are typically percussion instruments; ones that require more energy than skill. Wind instruments, too, like the harmonica and recorder, fall into this category.
Sure, you sometimes find the rare aficionado who can pick up any string instrument and play it to his or her will. But for the most part, we’re not wired that way. Take a gong for example, an instrument that gives back the energy you put into it. Or the harmonica, which is fueled by your breath and an ear for what sounds good to you. Even if singing in the shower is the extent of your musical prowess, that’s quite alright. Music is harmony. Harmony is love. And The Beatles had it right when they said that’s all we need.
The gong is by far one of the easiest instruments to learn. You don’t need any of what some deem “musical skills” in order to play the gong. Simply hold the mallet, tap the gong, and let the harmonic tones surround you. Anyone of any age can play the gong. All it takes is a sincere desire to explore and truly listen to the different sounds created as you strike the various areas of the gong.
You’ll find that each gong has its own unique voice that is set free to vibrate in direct response to the intention and focus of the player. It’s immediate feedback. And a direct reflection of the energy you’re putting into it. So whether you’re looking to add an element to your spiritual practice or just want to relearn how to be still for a few minutes amidst this fast-paced world, the gong can be an essential component in your life.
A harmonica can be played in just about every musical discipline - jazz, rock, country, reggae, you name it. They sound cool, are really easy to play, and don’t require much more to make a sound than the air you put through it.
The most basic type of harmonica and a good place to learn for those starting out is called a diatonic harmonica. It is built to play a specific key, which means you’re always in tune. As C is the easiest key to understand, we’d suggest starting out with a harmonic built in that key.
The last thing to note is that harmonicas are one of the most portable instruments you’ll find. You can carry one in your pocket and play it just about anywhere. Think about a cool night in a remote place, sitting around the fire with friends, and how the lilting music of a harmonica can make it feel complete.
Another “wind” instrument that’s really easy to learn is the recorder. You may remember playing something similar in grade school known as the flutophone. The major difference between the two is the finger holes - a flutophone has raised finger holes and the recorder’s holes are drilled straight into the body.
The three most important elements of playing the recorder are air, fingers, and tongue. Start by inhaling then blowing a steady stream of air out of your mouth. See how long you can exhale without stopping. Is it 10 seconds? Twenty? It will probably be double that in a week. Repetition will make your lungs so much stronger.
Next, place your left thumb underneath and forefinger on the top hole, (nearest the mouthpiece) of the recorder, sort of like you’re making the OK sign. Covering the hole completely, blow. If you hear any squeaking, it’s because you’re not covering the hole well enough. Rest the recorder gently on your right thumb and run through each key by covering then releasing a different hole during your continuous stream of outward air. Eventually, you’ll create tunes that sound good that you can put together with other notes to form a melody.
Lastly, you’ll work in the tongue. Think of it like mimicking a choo-choo train. You’ll begin every note with your tongue, which will work in unison with your fingers to create sweet melodies. Just remember to relax the body and have fun.
Bongo rhythms are absolutely beautiful. While bongos originated in Cuba, you will find them no matter where you go in the world. When you see someone playing the bongo, we bet that more often than not, they’re doing so with a big smile on their face. Whereas drums usually create the heartbeat of any bands, the bongos bring soul.
In order to play the bongo, you’ll need some rhythm and a little bit of practice to get to where you enjoy it. The practice part is mostly to learn the feel of the instrument. So when you’re starting out, decide first what type of bongo you want to play. The larger the bongo, the deeper the tone and vice versa. You may benefit from starting small then working your way up. Sort of like learning to crawl before you walk.
A pair of bongos are fairly inexpensive. While you often get what you pay for, starting on the cheaper end of the spectrum will at least give you a good idea for the feel of the instrument. And if you enjoy sitting in a chair in your living room or on a boulder on the side of a mountain playing, then move up to better quality until you find the look, feel, and sounds that suits you best.
It’s all in the wrist, they say. Like golf or tennis, a lot of playing the tambourine is all in the wrist. Just not all of it. The tambourine is another percussion instrument that’s easy to learn. To play, hold it in your non-dominant hand and strike it against your other hand. How does it sound? How does it feel? Next, you can begin to shake it. The little metal parts around the frame of the tambourine are called zills; they make the jingling sound.
In essence, a tambourine is a tiny hand-held drum. The great thing about the tambourine is that it requires no certain position to play - you can sit, stand, kneel, lay down, etc. You can dance to your own rhythm. Get the mind and blood flowing.
Learning one of these five instruments is a great place to start. If you’re able to quickly master the fundamentals of each and need more of a challenge, then perhaps it’s time for you to move on to strings, which we’ll talk about at a later date. For now, we hope you enjoy the music around you.
October 25, 2020
October 21, 2020
September 28, 2020