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Ten Christmas Gifts for Aspiring Musicians 

With Christmas coming soon, it can be difficult to decide what to get everyone. Fortunately for anyone shopping for a musician, several options present themselves. This article will point out some items or services you may not have thought of while seeking to fill your musicians’ stockings.
  1. Music. If you at least have an understanding of the particular genre your musician is a fan of, you can always get them a digital album. Depending on the age involved in the performer or band, you may also be able to earn some brownie points by getting them a CD, a vinyl or even an 8-track; just make sure that they have the necessary equipment to play them.
  2. Musician’s Dice Ideal for singer-songwriters, these 12-sided dice feature a different key on each facet. Their purpose is to nudge creativity by encouraging the musician to perform or write a segment in a different chord.
  3. Concert DVDs. If you happen to know your musician’s favorite performer or band, you might want to see if that performer has released any videos of concert performances.
  4. An Instrument. If you know your musician wants to get into performing with an instrument or know that she could use something better, feel free to pull the trigger and get them that instrument. Just be sure to check that no one else has the same idea
  5. Lessons. While every performer could use some improvement, not every performer needs the same level of improvement. Paying for lessons from a competent instructor is a great way to continue your musician’s interests in music. Just make sure to research ratings before putting up the money; a poor instructor can lead to a great disdain for music.
  6. A Meeting with Their Musical Idol. While this is likely the priciest item on this list, arranging a meeting with your musician’s favorite performer can lead to life-changing memories.
  7. Headphones. A great pair of headphones can isolate a player’s sound so that your musician can better savor the music without bothering others’ peace.
  8. A Year’s Subscription to Prime Music or Google Play. If you know that your musician likes music but have no idea what sort of music she likes, consider getting her a subscription to one of these libraries of music. There is also the chance that she might discover a new band she’d never heard of.
  9. An External Hard Drive. Free up hard drive space by giving your musician a dedicated storage point for all of her musical files and content.
  10. Sound Dampening Barriers. These are ideal for recording because they minimize background sounds that might otherwise be captured during recording.

Whether you are shopping for someone interested in music or for a musician seeking improvement, at least one of the items on this list should have powered that light bulb. After all, no one said that Christmas presents must be physical objects.

Getting Married? Check Out These Top Twenty Reception Songs 

Sheet music of the Wedding March with roses and rings
When you are planning your wedding reception, it is important to choose the right music for each part. That way, you and your guests will have a wonderful experience.

Cocktail Hour

While you are busy with the photographer, your guests will be waiting for your arrival at the reception. This is a great time to play some quiet music allowing your guests to quietly visit with each other. Consider:

  • Better Together by Jack Johnson
  • Love is Here to Stay by Frank Sinatra
  • A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

Arrival

When you are ready to make your grand appearance to the reception, the music should help announce your arrival. Consider:

  • Signed Sealed and Delivered by Stevie Wonder
  • Let’s Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas
  • Feel This Moment by Pitt Bull featuring Christina Aguilera

Cake Cutting

The next time that music needs to play an integral part in your reception is to signal that it is time to cut the cake. Consider:

  • Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith
  • Love on Top by Beyoncé
  • Lean on Me by Bill Withers

Dance

If you are having a dance, then it should include some very special songs. For the first dance, consider:

  • Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
  • The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra
  • Marry You by Bruno Mars
  • At Last by Etta James

Most couples choose to have a father-daughter dance right after the couple’s dance. This is a very special time and calls for special music. Occasionally, the groom and his mother may also join in on the dancing fun. For this dance, consider:

  • Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle
  • Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
  • My Girl by the Temptations

When everyone is ready to join in the fun, then try to stagger the songs by generations so that everyone at the dance will have a great time. While it is your special day, you want all of your guests to feel comfortable. Some people are much more comfortable dancing to certain styles of music than they are to other styles. Consider:

  • Little Pretty One by Bobby Day and the Satellites
  • Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
  • Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
  • Livin’ On a Prayer by Bon Jovi

Planning special music for each part of your wedding reception requires that you work closely with your DJ or band. You should hire these professionals as far ahead as possible and discuss your choices with them. This gives them plenty of time to polish songs for your wedding day.

The Anatomy of a Great Band

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Truth: Good bands aren’t all that hard to find. Your favorite club or pub probably books a decent band or two every weekend, right? Great bands, on the other hand, are a totally different animal and not as thick on the ground. So what’s the difference? What sets a great band apart?

Well, they don’t play musical chairs, for one thing. Band members stick, because they know you have to consistently jam with the same lineup for a good long while to form solid connections with your band mates. It takes time to develop the kind of gut-level rapport that translates into great music and a seamless but always fresh on-stage dynamic.

These musicians love what they do. Each and every member is all about the music and would be if the band didn’t make a dime. Because the music comes first, a great bands generally produce high-test tunes—both original material and maybe their own special twists on the occasional covers.

These guys and gals practice ‘til their ears bleed. No such thing as too many rehearsals in their world. Great bands operate on the assumption that if practice makes perfect, more practice makes better than perfect. Gig or no gig, band members get together at least a couple times week to run through new material and fine-tune old.

Band members know how to mix it up, musically, vocally and instrumentally. Seriously, nothing keeps the music fresh like switching things up every now and then, for grins and giggles and/or to keep Old Man Boredom at bay. Plus, you know the lead singers’ going to get laryngitis at some point. Making sure the bass player can take up the slack, no sweat, is just smart.

These folks consider themselves professionals, and act like it. Everyone shows up on time and ready to perform. Band members are all good with putting money into the collective pot to finance better equipment, produce CDs and maybe manufacture some merch.

Gigs, gigs and more gigs. Live performances are to bands what a whetstone is to your favorite Ginsu knife. They help by showing the musicians what they’re doing right and what they need to work on. Plus, gigs are where bands attract diehard fans and learn how to put out just as hard for an audience of ten as they do for a wall-to-wall sellout crowd.

Great bands are bands that didn’t quit. They started in somebody’s garage and practiced until they got good enough to play school dances and tips-only gigs in Podunk. They pushed the envelope, then pushed it some more, both as musicians and performers. Eventually, they managed to book a few paid appearances, then more and better paid shows, until they finally elbowed their way out of the crowd and across that boundary line between good and great.

You want it all in a nutshell? Great bands are like brother- and sisterhoods, close-knit crews of dedicated professionals who stay together to play together, put the music first, work hard for their money and constantly reach for more, from their band mates and from deep within themselves.

 

How to Get Hired in the Music Industry

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You say music is your life? Maybe you fantasize about working in the industry but aren’t sure how to get a toehold, let alone snag your dream job. In that case, you’re going to love these tips geared toward transforming your fantasy into reality!

Got skills? Like life, the music industry isn’t one size fits all. Saying you want to work in the biz isn’t nearly good enough. Ask yourself what, exactly and ideally, you’d like to do. Pinpoint your specific dream job and take stock. Do you have the skills and know-how to fulfill the vision? If not, maybe you should think about getting them.

Look at the big picture. When you think “music industry,” don’t just think Beyoncé concerts and Broadway musicals. Music is everywhere—on stage, television, commercials, radio (traditional and Internet) and websites. Industry jobs run from sound checks to marketing to reviewing and reporting and beyond. The more doorways you’re willing to step through, the more likely you are to find a way in.

Get geeky with it. You’d be surprised what online job websites have to offer music-minded folk such as yourself. Be creative with your search terms, though—you don’t want to miss a choice television gig because the glittering search term music industry was your Plan A and Plan B didn’t rate a passing thought.

Think headhunter. Believe it or not, there are employment agencies that specialize in finding multiple kinds of talent (one of which could be you) for the music industry—Handle Recruitment in the U.K. and Arts and Media would be two examples. Identify the players, connect via their websites, and follow them on social media like a bloodhound. You never know when or how you might stumble onto that golden brick road.

Desk jockey or disk jockey, you need a good resume. Not talking good resume as in experience—or not only that—but as in crisp, clean and professionally done. Boring, right? You won’t think so if the perfect job slips through your fingers because your resume looks like it was formatted by a hyperactive three-year-old.

Schmooze it up. Let’s face it, nothing beats getting up close and personal. Outfits like the National Association of Record Industry Professionals and The Association of Independent Music get together for all kinds of conferences and panels and workshops and such. For some events you don’t even have to be a member. Check their calendars, drop by and make a few connections.

Stuff envelopes if you have to. Any foot in the door is a good foot. That being the case, think about volunteering—for any kind of duty—at a record company, sound studio, TV station or newspaper. And, hey! What about those music industry internships? Like, you know, with the Grammys! Are those worth checking out, or what?

Finally, follow through with the follow up. Listen, people, you’ve got to stay on top of this stuff. Follow up on the resume, keep in touch with contacts made during that internship, chat up headhunters on social media, and be giving with your demo disks. Be the hungriest early bird out there, and you’ll worm your way in before you know it!