Holiday? If not, learn a new skill

Why do you go on holiday? The reasons vary from individual to individual of course. Many people go away in search of better weather. It is common in the United Kingdom to go away for a spot of winter sun, when the winter is cold and the hours of daylight can give rise to seasonal affective disorder.

But it is not just winter when people escape for better weather. They do so in the summer too. Some escape to the United Kingdom in the summer for a holiday. Now this might make you feel incredulous, but not so much so after you consider that a large majority of these visitors are from even warmer climates such as the middle East, where summer Celsius temperatures can reach the mid forties in the shade, so the United Kingdom climate is cooler in comparison. You might even see some people wear tracksuits because the surroundings feel cool to them!

When you are on holiday it is a good idea to disconnect from your daily life as much as you can. After all, your daily life is probably hectic, which is why you went to have a break in the first place. But going on a break means just that. Avoid the things you do in your daily life, otherwise it will seem like you were never away mentally even though your body was in a different space. And when you return to work you will feel twice as tired, and the holiday will have been counterproductive!

And if you cannot afford the time and expense to go on a holiday, maybe doing something out of the ordinary would be good. Perhaps take up a skill like cooking, art, or playing the piano. It may provide a welcome distraction just to break the monotony of life! More importantly, it allows you to establish a level of control over your life, and would give you some sense of well-being and happiness!

Starting anew

Belated Happy New Year! This blog has been going on for some time now but this is the first post about a new year. Did you stay up on new year’s eve to ring in the changes? If you did then quite possibly your new year’s eve might have been spent playing board games in the evening with other members of your family. Maybe even the monopoly board has had a bit of an airing, instead of being holed up in the loft. If you were out and about, you might have attended a public event with singing, magic shows and other performances by well-known celebrities while every so often in between acts the compere might remind you of how many hours and minutes there would be left before the clock struck midnight. Does that all sound familiar?

One of the things that people like to do in the new year is to make new year resolutions. Has that ever happened to you before? For many of us, the new year is a chance to wipe the slate clean, to start afresh and to forget the mistakes of the past year. We all make mistakes in our lives and starting afresh is a good chance to look positively towards the future instead of being haunted or affected by the things you did wrong in the past and letting them adversely affect us.

A new year is also a good time to try something new. Learning to repair windows. Or perhaps improve your culinary skills. Take up a sport. Learn a musical instrument. There are so many things you can do, taking the opportunity of a new year to encourage yourself. Like the Piano Teachers Muswell Hill website suggests, take ten or fifteen minutes a day to pick up a new skill. You may find that after a year, this time next year, you may have acquired a better level of mastery.

Why not make THAT your resolution this year?

Various forms of fommunication

Would you prefer for yourself to be described as a hot or cold person? Most people actually prefer to be described as the former. And why is that? While neither of the two adjectives are actually favourable, some at least prefer to be described as having a certain degree of emotion than none at all.

For example, when you are described as a hot person, it suggests two things. One could be that you are actually quite attractive and that onlookers would be attracted to you. When the phrase “you’re hot” is used to describe you, it would mean that you get someone’s body temperature rising and you get their senses going. But that’s only half of the equation. Sometimes when you are described as “hot”, there could also be another connotation in that you are annoyed, angry or made – that something has got your temperature going instead. So when you hear the words “he’s hot” or “she’s hot” out of context – there is some mental working out to be done to figure out what the speaker actually means.

But what about “cold”? Coldness is usually used to signify frostiness and a lack of emotion. If someone is described as a cold person, it usually is used to mean emotions are missing or muted in that indiidual.
The English language has many of such contradictions. “Hot” either means angry (unattractive) or attractive, and while “cold” is more definitive, what about “cool”? Expressing the idea that someone is cool may suggests he is quite popular and people like him. Yet when we say someone is cool to an idea, it implies their enthusiasm has been muted. “It’s a cool idea” is a different expression from “I’m cool to the idea”!

Verbal communication can hence be skewed, which is why sometimes general, non-verbal communication is useful at times, particularly in those who suffer from autism. Music is sometimes prescribed as a form of therapy from those who suffer from it, because it allows them to express feelings that they might find difficult to articulate. But one need not worry about how long it takes to learn the instrument. Piano talent is not hereditary but developed and practised (as evidenced here) and if learnt well, can also be useful as a qualification if you take piano exams! And if you are interested in learning the piano, perhaps here are some facts about it that may interest you too!

Control is not necessarily good or bad

It’s about control.

Human beings have a natural tendency to try to order the things around them, so as to alter the circumstances to suit their needs and liking. The control may be for physical objects. We could design our home layout to suit a particular style. For example, if we want to project a certain level of cool sophistication we would fill our homes with objects that project that sort of image. Perhaps these may take the form of chandeliers, expensive vases, and designer furniture. But control does not imply excess. Just because you want to control the surrounding space does not necessarily mean you fill it with objects. If you want to lead a uncluttered lifestyle, you might order your home around a minimalist theme. Less furniture, but more functional items might be the way in which you control that space.

The sense of control may also extend unfortunately to people around. We may surround ourselves with friends who share the same interests, so that we have a common thing to talk about. After all, it would be hard work to surround yourself with people who just don’t get on the same wavelength as you, as you would be trying to make conversations on themes in which you don’t have common ground, and in the process of doing so, the working to find a common theme is difficult.

Many people around us – in fact, a fair proportion of society – would speak of control as if it were a bad thing, one linked with OCD. But control does not necessarily imply bad . Having control over means managing parts of life so that they do not interfere with your time, and free you up to have more things to do. Being in control is a good thing. But how do we manage being in control? We can establish it in various parts of our life through routine and habits. We can also take up other activities where managing different skills simultaneously is required. For example, as the Piano Teacher Finsbury Park website tells us, playing the piano involves six or seven different skills at the same time. Learning to manage these on an easy level provides a base from which you can increase the demands of all these, and when you encounter these stresses in life, you will have had experience in dealing with them on some level!

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.


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!