As we’ve discussed before, some musicians aren’t content to just make music; some like to make the things that make music, then use them to make the music! This affects musicians of all levels and in all walks of life. Don’t believe me? Find a professional oboist (or bassoonist) who doesn’t hand-craft their own reeds. :-)
Anyway, I ran across this great article from our friends at Instructables explaining how to make your own bongo cajon. If you’re a percussionist, especially one who plays la musica latina, you may already be familiar with the concept…but for non-percussionists, a bongo cajon is a cajon (“large box” in Spanish) that produces pitches like a bongo: high and low. This allows the percussionist to play bongo patterns on the cajon. It’s a rather clever instrument and looks like it would be relatively straightforward and fun to make.
Whether making or playing, keep the music coming!
I was chatting with a friend of mine recently and he passed along some advice so simple, yet so profound, that I felt it just had to be shared. With all of the excellent advice out there for the current or aspiring Part-Time Musician (PTM) – and I’d like to think we’ve passed along a good deal of it! – it just doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s Never Too Late to Start
However old you are now, whether 8 or 88, you’re at the perfect age to start playing an instrument. If you don’t already play the instrument you’d like to play, for Heaven’s sake, START NOW! What is holding you back…really? Fear of committing to…doing something you’ve always wanted to do? Fear of…not being very good until you’ve progressed a bit? The cost of…investing in your personal growth and fulfillment? Short of physical inability (five year old + double bass = bad idea), there is no good reason for putting it off. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START PLAYING THE INSTRUMENT YOU LOVE!
Something is Better Than Nothing
We’ve written previously about “micro-sessions” for practicing (click here to see article), but to cut straight to the chase, any quality time is better than no quality time…even if it’s just a few minutes each day. You won’t get to Carnegie Hall on five minutes a day, but you could learn a few tunes over the course of a few months, work on tuning and intonation, throw in a few embellishments, and amaze just about everyone you know – including yourself – with your progress in less than a year’s time. Yes, you’ll improve faster with more time and thought invested; but begin with whatever you can and adjust as appropriate. SOMETHING REALLY IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!
These same principles apply to anything in life (fitness, learning a language, reading, etc.), but they hold special importance for us as PTMs. Remember these keys and apply them, and someday, you just might amaze yourself with what you can do.
All the best,
Some Part-Time Musicians (PTMs) are gadget hounds, but for some, that just isn’t enough. For those really-eaten-up few (!), real instrument nirvana is found in building your own instrument. So…anyone up to building a conga drum?
Our friends at Instructables have this set of instructions for building your own atabaque, or Afro-Brazilian conga drum. I’ll admit that spending so much time crafting an instrument that could be spent playing it just doesn’t work for me. That said, I know oboists and bassoonists who probably spend more time in a year creating and trimming reeds than this would require, and I don’t even want to think about the time I’ve spent over the years experimenting with various mouthpieces and trumpet accessories…so to each his own. Or as our French PTMs would say, vive la difference!
So what do you think? Ready to head to the shop and start building your next instrument? Drop us a line and let us know what’s on your mind! We’d love to hear from you.
Music videogames stir strong opinions in some musicians, and Part-Time Musicians (PTMs) as a group are no exception. But with the latest round of gameplay improvements and controller updates, have we now reached the point where playing a music videogame can really improve our music-making skills?
This is a large topic that can be approached from several perspectives, and we’ve covered two of those before (see From virtual musician to real musician and Videogaming helps your mad music-making skillz!), but this zeroes in on the typical configurations that are seen in most homes – or the setups that the Rock Band folks hope soon will be.
In this article from our friends at cnet, Dan Ackerman puts Rock Band 3 to the test and finds that it comes very close to the “real thing”. And while they take a slightly different tack, Dan notes that the people behind First Act are working to close the gap between “play music” and playing music, too. It’s a great article that has had me mulling since I first saw it, and I suspect it will you, too.
So what do you think? Will music videogames eventually get to the point where (we) real musicians use them as a training aid? Or will adding sophistication spoil the fun for the larger market and kill the games before we get there? Are we already there?
Drop us a line and share your thoughts! And whether you take an occasional videogame break or not, keep that music coming…
All the best,
Please welcome our newest advertiser, Making Music Magazine! If you haven’t already, you can check out their ad in the right column of this (and every!) page here at PartTimeMusician.com. It looks like this:
Making Music Magazine is a print publication that caters to people who play music as an avocation, not as a vocation. Many of us PTMs fall into that category, and for those who do, MMM is an excellent (additional!) resource.
Our goal here at PartTimeMusician.com is to provide quality information to those who “work a day job to support their playing addiction”, and this extends to our advertisers. Our bar is high on your behalf, and we feel MMM fits right in.
Please let us know how we’re doing! After all, this is your site, too.
All the best,