Inventions, and music

Sometimes if you look at the things around us in our daily lives you can see how simply they are, yet how they serve a functional purpose. Life without them would have been very difficult. For example, imagine a small thin section of metal, perhaps an inch long, with a flat head and threaded sides. You have a metal screw. And who invented it? If you look around us now, at all the things we have in our daily lives that require a screw, can you imagine how life must have been like before its invention?

The ubiquitous things around us often reveal to us how simple designs can serve great functions and go on to great popularity. For example, the simple brick that is the basic building block of construction is now so widely used, that without it we might be living in an era of tin huts or mud huts!

One of the inventions we have in our lives that displays similar simplicity is barbed wire. Made in the 1800s, it was used to enclose land and still is in the present day. It merely consists of wire intertwined with each other. At its outset, the fragile wire was not perceived to be strong, but its inventor, one John Gates, put it to great use by showing how it could enclose wild animals! It made him a great fortune!

But inventions may not need to be physical things. They can be things such as music. Dizzy Gillespie pioneered a style of music called bebop – you can learn more about it from this post here – and revolutionised the music world!

The human spirit is intertwined with creativity. Keep inventing and keep trying to find new ways to do old things, or find solutions to improve efficiency. And remember you may not necessarily come up with a new physical thing, even a new process can actually become a new invention as well!

Single Parenting and Music

Western societies are generally accepted to be more liberal than others and more accepting and tolerant of what other societies might consider to be taboo. One such arrangement is single parent families. In certain countries single parent families are increasingly commonplace, as breakdowns in relationships are often routinely referred to divorce courts. In some places, particularly with strong religious links, divorce is taboo, so single parent families are less common. We may accept that these will increasingly become routine as work and family pressures increase and adults increasingly find it difficult to keep the family together. But single parenting may only alleviate the burdens of family may muting the disagreements between couples, and replacing them with other pressures passed on to the children.

In Japan single parent families are frowned upon culturally, and one such parent was concerned about the impact the lack of a father figure was taking on her daughter. Her daughter was emotionally withdrawn, and in the company of her peers she did not fully participate, and was at times unknowingly or knowingly made fun of because there was no father at home. Her mother took the unusual step of hiring an actor to play the role of her father – the actor pretended to want to make an attempt at reconciliation and after gaining the trust of the daughter, continues to do so. But are there any other problems with doing this? Certainly so. The actor wondered if he was doing more harm by deceiving the girl, and wondered what her life would be like when she had children – would they call him, the actor, grandpa? Would they only be building a house of cards?

Single parents sometimes struggle to occupy their children – unlike dual parent households, there is only one parent to go around! But it would be worthwhile to engage children in activities that would benefit him, such as sport and music. In fact, learning to play an instrument like the piano develops patience, willingness to persist and try, teaches life skills such as scheduling and revision. Like the Piano Teacher N8 website suggests, it would be a good thing that children can teach themselves on their own to do; the piano is also quite instantly gratifying, unlike another instrument like the violin which can take years just to get a nice sound out of it. So if you are a single parent, it would be a good idea to involve your child in music – at least something to occupy them!

Considering teaching? A music perspective

Every one has a memory of school. Whether it is a good one or not is a subjective experience, depending on what your priorities were and what you aimed to get out of it at the time. If your main focus was in getting good grades, and if you did, then you might say school was an overall good experience. Of course, the converse is true. If you expected to get good grades in school and then did not, you might reflect on your school experience as not all that fantastic. But school is not necessarily just about grades. It is about the friends you make and the people you meet, and for some, defining friendships that are created at that time are more important than the grades you receive. While academic knowledge is important, your experience of school may be influenced more by the friends you made there. If you made lifelong friends while you were at the same school, you might not have done well for important exams, but nevertheless credit school with being a positive experience.

Your experience of school may have some influence in your future career path than you know. Many teachers chose their profession for various reasons. Maybe they had good school experiences and wanted to do the same in inspiring the future generation. But being a teacher, or deciding to pursue an education in teaching, is only half of the equation. The perception of the profession varies in different countries. In Latin American countries such as Bolivia, teaching is looked upon as a poor profession while in countries such as China, being a teacher is a highly respected profession. So if you ever decide to go into teaching, maybe see how it is perceived in your own country first!

Teaching does not necessarily mean standing in front of a classroom and delivering the curriculum. You can prepare for a career in teaching but become a tutor instead. In fact, some teachers do tutor outside of school for extra income. You don’t necessarily have to do the same thing, but can re-package your knowledge into something different. For example, if you were a music teacher, you might teach an instrument like the piano outside of your school hours. So in effect you have become a piano teacher, leveraging on your skills.

On the face of it, teaching is one of the more rewarding professions. But as I said earlier, check out how people in your country view it first!

Fuelling changing social practices – music to our ears?

Imagine this scenario. You are driving up in your car, doing your daily jobs, and then realise you are running low on fuel. So you take the nearest opportunity to fill up as you drive up to a petrol station – it may even be part of your local supermarket. Would you expect to pay for your fuel first and then be refunded?

There may be some that question the practicality of this. How is it possible to pay for fuel first before you have even filled up the car? This method would require you to estimate the amount of fuel you need, and then pre-pay it in advance. But what if you simply wanted to fill the car up to its maximum before embarking on a long drive? Would you be forced to buy fuel in large increments, perhaps by ten pounds’ worth at a time, before inching your way in five, and then one-pound increments, so as to avoid paying more than you actually bought? And don’t forget, each purchase would have to be pre-paid.

This system seems rather impractical at first glance. The above scenario would require you to make numerous purchases on your card, and multiple attempts at topping up the fuel. In the past, it would have meant a simple trip to the fuel pump, one attempt, and one payment. Making multiple attempts at both would simply mean spending longer time at the pump, resulting in delays and lost revenues for service stations. Service stations would simply have to raise their prices to make up for the lost custom.

But why is this scheme of pre-paid filling up being considered in the first place? It is because drivers have been filling up, then driving off. This theft of fuel costs the UK millions of pounds each year.

This new social practice is in response to how society has developed.

Ideas usually start out on the periphery before they graduate to the mainstream. This is no further more evident than in the alternative group Nirvana, who – as the Stroud Green piano teacher website tells us – were alternative way beyond the time before “alternative” became a mainstream genre in the music industry! Perhaps, in a similar vein, there will be changing social practices starting from daily areas such as fuel pumps.

Put it this way – ten years ago you wouldn’t trust supermarket staff to pick your fruit and veg for you, yet online shopping has grown and it has become commonplace in daily life. Why not other practices too?

Population growth, by another name

Here’s a question you may not have the direct answer to – when is world’s population expected to reach nine billion? It may be one of the harder human geography questions to answer, not simply because that it requires you to know the current world population, but also to have a pretty good rough estimate of population growth.

Population growth is hard to measure. For starters, even the number of citizens within a country is hard to measure. Do we know how many people there are within the United Kingdom are? Even the census makers cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statistics. Migration affects the population, and in some cases such as Brexit, one factor can be so alarming as to cause a mass exodus of citizens migrating to more favourable countries.

Population count is also affected by disasters, whether they are man-made or natural. Natural disasters unfortunately kill people and cause loss of life that we would not normally expect during times of peace; for example, earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons happen fairly frequently and have created casualties. This affects the population growth in a country. There are also other disasters such as famine which cannot be accounted for. Who predicts a famine in their GDP or GNP?

So when is the population of the world expected to reach nine billion? The current world population stands at roughly seven and a half billion, and is expected to reach nine billion sometime in the 2040s, possibly in the earlier half. If the current rate of growth continues, by the year 2100, there would be over eleven billion human beings on the planet! Eleven billion! How would the earth feed itself?

When we measure population growth and keep statistics in these things, it is because these statistics are important. Population growth is an indicator of economic competition. In other words, if the population rises, but jobs do not increase, then the only thing that is increasing is competition for jobs. Population growth, by another name, is an indicator for economic competition.

So what can we glean from all this? One is that we have to be better equipped with skills, and we have to accept that we may need to be more better equipped than necessary for jobs at lower levels. And the acceptance of this fact may simply save us from mental stress and over-thinking of such situations.

Conte

Football manager Antonio Conte is one of the most decorated managers – decorated with trophies, that is. He has won many in his own country of Italy, and when he moved over to Chelsea to manage the Blues, he won the Premier League in his first season. But he has been out of work since acrimoniously leaving the team, and unable to find work since.

The problem with him being out of work is due to the fact that he is actually still contracted to Chelsea. He has not been able to take up offers because he is under contract, but he is unwilling to resign because it would mean losing out on a compensation package. The Chelsea team, of course, are unwilling to pay more money to a coach for a final year of a contract that will not be served. So they are playing a waiting game and hoping Conte will resign while he tires of offers passing him by.

The gossip column goes that even a team as big as Real Madrid were hoping to lure Conte to the Spanish capital. When their manager Zinedine Zidane resigned suddenly after winning the third of his Champions League trophies in a row, Conte had been in the running and would have been appointed had it not been for his contract. Should he simply have foregone the Chelsea compensation then?

Contractual obligations are sometimes the difficult part in any job situation. But at least Conte is in a 1-1 situation – that is to say, there is only one person in a job opening. Imagine what it would have been like had he been in a pop band, where many members make up the group. How do you account for equal renumeration of work? How do you divide the royalties equally? And if people come in and out between albums, how can you adequately account for each individual’s contribution? The pop band The Drifters, for example, had such an ever-changing line up, that when it came to deciding which members of the group should be elected to the hall of fame, it was no easy decision! (You can read more about this from the Piano Lessons Crouch End website.)

And as for Conte, maybe now that Julen Lopetugi has been sacked from Real Madrid, the road is clearer than the path The Drifters took!

Anxiety from a musical point of view

We’ve all encountered stressful situations, ones that make us nervous. It can be as simple as going to a new place, and the uncertainty of the new location may be enough to trigger of a range of reactions that we normally encounter when we are nervous. Nervousness and anxiety could manifest themselves through cold sweat, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, shortness of breath – in fact, did you know that is why actors get nervous fluff lines that they have regularly rehearsed and know by heart. Away from the cameras, all is fine, but turn up the pressure, and mistakes occur due to nervousness.

We could define anxiety as the body’s response to unfamiliar stimuli. When you are in a new situation, such as in a place you are unfamiliar with, you get a heightened sense of tension that comes from the natural flight or fight response ingrained within you. It is part of our genetic makeup as living beings.

Living beings all have a flight or fight response. Correction, thinking living beings have this response. It is the system that makes us cautious, that gives us the ability to assess situations, in order that we might survive. Without this, we would wander blissfully into dangerous situations. And anxiety is the heightened response that comes with it.

If you had to face a group of strangers on your own, would you get nervous? This is the situation, for example, that musicians have to face, particularly if they were a soloist on stage and walking up to face the orchestra and the audience. It would be like being on show while walking into the lion’s den! Soloists playing a concerto would have had to cope with their anxiety while being on show, which would normally push anxieties to the fore and interfere with performance. You can find out more about music performance from the Muswell Hill Piano Teachers website.

What can you do if you get nervous and find it interfering with your life? One of the things you can do is to establish control, which gives us power. Recognise you can choose your reactions if you know how. Secondly, understand that anxiety is all part of your body’s way of alerting you to new experiences. And thirdly, if you feel nervous, know that it is just simply because the experience you have is new, and you have not had enough of it yet to be less reactive to it – but you will in time. And that sense of control will make your anxiety go away in time.

Intervention gives world music genius

Let’s imagine this situation. You are going home from work one evening when, during your commute home, you witness someone in need of assistance. Perhaps it is someone who has injured himself or herself while walking on the road. Maybe it is someone who has been mugged. Or perhaps it is someone who is depressed and is in danger of self harm.

You stop whatever you are doing to help – never mind that you have had a long day at work and had been looking forward to a nice evening meal, slouched in front of the telly with a glass of wine or other beverage, and in front of your favourite evening programme. Or it may have been that you had been looking forward to a quiet romantic evening. Never mind all that now. You recognise the urgency of the situation and realise that you have to set aside your own needs temporarily to deal with those of the other person.

In a way, it requires you to selflessly give up part of yourself so that you are able to give to the other person, either in the form of physical assistance or perhaps maybe just something that costs financially less – merely in the form of companionship. Perhaps it is someone who is struggling in his or her own life and is thinking of the ultimate end to things.

If it were a true situation, how would you react? Would you walk on, thinking that it is better to avoid getting involved in a situation that might prove to be too difficult to extricate yourself from? Would you risk being too socially, or emotionally involved? Or might you think that you cannot afford the time to, because you are in a rush, or not skilled enough to deal with this sort of situation, and maybe someone else after you might be?

The jazz composer George Gershwin dropped out of school at the age of fifteen and had it not been for interventions along the way he might have just ended up in a menial job (as all dropouts might have), but crucially these interventions steered him along the right path where he met teachers that enhanced his skill. Other composers such as Beethoven, who was bullied by his father and teacher, might have benefitted from intervention as well.

The next time you see someone in need, be a little more compassionate and stop for a while. You never know, yours might be the voice that matters and turns things around.

Isolation and Mental Health

Does spending too much time alone in isolation lead to mental health decline? Let’s consider the case of the Russian composer Scriabin.

Scriabin’s career has a certain level of resemblance to that of Rachmaninov. Both were skilled in the art of composing and were accomplished pianists. Like Rachmaninov, his mother had been a fine pianist, and he was brought up by other female relatives in the extended family after his mother died just over a year after his birth.

Scriabin’s piano teacher in Moscow was Nikolay Zverev, who also taught Rachmaninov. Both entered the Conservatory in 1888 and both won gold medals during their time there. It was in the Conservatory that Scriabin caught the attention of the Russian millionaire publisher and philanthropist Mitrofan Belyayev. The latter began publishing Scriabin’s works and also sent him on a tour in Europe to play his own music.

In his later works Scriabin became increasingly involved in mysticism, and dabbled in Nietzschean theories, occult teachings, and philosophical ideas. He also developed the theory of synaesthesia, according to which art that appealed to all the senses would trigger a cataclysmic effect. His final work, Mysterium, was written with all these in mind. According to Scriabin, the performance was planned to last seven days in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas, beginning with bells suspended from the clouds. The universe would be shattered and humans replaced by nobler beings. To others, he seemed positively batty.

You can read more about the link between mental health and isolation from the Piano Teachers N8 website, or look up pianoWorks for Piano Lessons N8.

But it is fair to assume that spending too much time in self analysis, in what must seem like really isolationist activities such as being at the piano does push one towards mental health decline – as seen in this case. The same goes for other activities such as playing computer games, spending too much time on social media and other similar activities. In other words, get out! You may find that even when you are troubled, getting out for a walk, or just talking to people provides a temporary diversion from troubles. Or if you need to, arrange a visit with a counsellor so you can speak about your problems in strict confidence.

Work and Attire

How seriously do you take your office attire? The way you dress can show what you truly think about your job, and if this is managed well, put you in a good position.

Imagine this scenario. A plumber or junior electrician thinks “I’m in a manual job, I might just as well not bother because I’m going to get dirty anyway.” So he doesn’t bother with his appearance. But what do others think? They think someone who doesn’t care about his appearance should not be made a manager, or given responsibilities, because he will not be a good representation of the company.

Now imagine this scenario. The same worker comes to work, presentably dressed, changes into his coveralls for work, and then when he is finished, goes back into the clothes he came in, so he is not wearing the clothes he did his manual work in. People in the organisation knows he has skill to do the job, and he had demonstrated he is willing to progress, and demonstrated that he bothers.

Of course, you must just dress slightly beyond the pay grade and not too far. Don’t do your bin man job in your Armani suit. Or if you are relatively junior in the job ranks, don’t dress like you think a revolution is nigh in your organisation. Leaping too far and showing too much ambition will get you the ire of your co-workers.

A tip is to pick someone from the rank above as your style guide. If that person is a manager or middle manager and has survived in that job for a few years, then that look may have been established as been appropriate for the level. So adopt that look, which may put you in good mental stead. And if there is a position that will soon be vacated, perhaps by someone leaving for another job, or retiring, and if that person has been one that is well-liked, and your organisation is known to be conservative in its interviewing – that they are looking to appoint someone similar – model your style after them. And if the outgoing person is not well-liked, dress differently from them!

The Classical composer Hector Berlioz was well-known for writing grand music. He was also known for being a good dresser, which put him well in the public mind because they noted his dress sense. Perhaps it came with originally being a doctor. But despite a lack of music training, you may argue that being smartly-dressed enabled Berlioz to be noted by the public, and make the leap in to a career he was originally not meant to be in!

To find out more about Hector Berlioz, you can click here or follow the links to the Piano Teacher N15 website.

Dress smart – but appropriately! It communicates the correct attitude.