hot cold

Are you a person that prefers hot weather or cold weather? It may be the case that many among us would prefer warmer climates. After all it would mean that we would not have to suffer in the winter cold, in the damp and wet of winter, and can happily go out without having to wear many layers. When you ask people about their holidays, they usually tell you that they are going to warmer climates, and are going for the experience of sun, sand and sea. Rarely is it the case that people fancy going to the colder climates – unless they are going to see penguins or polar bears!

Why is it that someone would want to go to a colder place though, especially if they are on holidays? Apart from the reasons that we have mentioned already, it may simply be that they like the wintry look of the landscape. The bleak, leaf-less trees may not be your kind of thing, but for others, it offers a kind of escape from their usual surroundings. For example, if you were from the Middle East, where temperatures can rise to forty or more degrees in the shade, in the height of summer you may be quite fed up of being baked to death and having no respite from the heat of the sun, so a trip to the colder climate may actually be a welome change!

Going on a holiday offers you a welcome change from the usual routine of work and life’s routines. When you go on a holiday, it would be a good idea not to check your emails and social media too often, as these are triggers for your daily life and if you were away, and did not take a break from them, it may feel like you have never been away at all. So when you take a break – take a real break!

And if you are not able to afford the time and expense of going on holiday, perhaps take up a new skill, such as woodcraft, DIY, or learning the piano. The Piano Teachers Crouch End website claims that learning an instrument while break up the monotony and tedium of your daily life, and being at a different pace to your routine, will make you feel less jaded and more positive. So why not give it a try?

New Year resolutions, and evolution

This is the first post for the new year, so let’s just say a belated happy new year! How did you spend new year’s eve? For some people, the period between Christmas and New Year is one continuous stretch of partying and drinking and eating. New Year’s eve might have been nothing different, merely a repeat of the day after Boxing Day. For others, new year’s eve is more of a special event, spent with family members in the living room, reminiscing about the past, playing board games such as Monopoly, Cluedo, or other board games that might have been consigned to the loft for the remainder of the year. Others might prefer poker or other card games, while others might take to the streets and public events to see the new year countdown. Normally there are events where people sing, dance, perhaps do a bit of magic, or some other variety performance, while the hours, minutes and seconds tick closer to closer towards the new year.

A popular thing to do in the new year is to make resolutions. For some it may be something such as to lose weight or to improve one’s health by doing some exercise. It is no wonder that gyms sometimes report that the period between December and January are the peak signing up seasons, as memberships get given for Christmas or people start thinking about starting afresh and doing something new in the new year. A resolution need not be something physical, it may involve something altruistic such as being kinder to others, or involve learning a new skill.

What is true about the new year though, is that in making changes in order to better ourselves, we realise that we have to evolve and cannot simply remain the way we are. Life is a process – unfortunately for those who hope to simply stay on top of things by doing them the same old way. Even things such as pop music or classical music have to evolve in order to remain relevant. (You can find out more about the latter from the Piano Lessons N4 website.)

Why not let that be one of your new year resolutions – to evolve and better yourself? You may find that this one choice covers a whole multitude of resolutions.

Persistence

Katherine Hough suffered from poor health right from in her teens. She had stomach pains, and while these might have been dismissed as part of growing up, the ill-health symptoms developed into more serious ones such as frequent fatigue, loss of hair, joint pain and other ailments which affected her during her university days.

Can you imagine having to get up and that your whole life is a bit of a struggle before you make it to the “hard” part of the day? For many disabled individuals this would not have been an uncommon scenario. Wheelchair users, for example, have to deal with mobility issues, not only within their own homes, but within the larger context of society as well.

It may be easier to equip your home to function for your needs, but what happens when you get outside? Wheelchair users may find it difficult, for example, to travel from place to place in that same way that able-bodied users do. While most of us simply get on the underground or trams and alight at our stop, wheelchair users have to plan their journey by step-free access stations, making further stops or more frequent changes simply to get to a destination via a wheelchair friendly route. And if you were a wheelchair user you would be familiar with having to look for lifts in obscure parts of buildings and other unfriendly parts of commute – like having bus passengers huff at you for delaying the journey while the ramp engages, or parents with young children being annoyed with having to give up space for you.

The good thing about struggles is that they nudge you towards higher levels of achievement if you refuse to give up. Johannes Gutenberg had to endure numerous failures before he finally succeeded with his printing press, which allowed the growth of classical music throughout Europe because music was now widely available. (You can read more about this from the Piano Teachers N4 website.) If Gutenberg had given up, we would never have had the wealth of musical material – or even reading material – luckily for us he persisted with his struggles.

The classical composer Franz Schubert is another example. He faced financial struggles and self-imposed doubt at various points in his career, yet he channelled all that emotional struggle into writing beautiful song cycles, where the piano and voice are both protagonists in a musical fabric.

The next time you facce difficulty – persist. It may bring forth something good.

control

Human beings like control. Whether we care to admit or not, we all exert control over various areas of our life. We decorate our homes in the style we like. We buy things that we like, even if we don’t need them. But control does not necessarily mean we indulge in the things that are good for us. We may force ourselves to go out to exercise, either by running or perhaps by heading off to the gym to do weights, in a bid to exert control over the functions of our bodies. The end result is not necessary satisfactory. We may not like running when it is cold and rainy but at least there is some satisfaction of mental control.

But what if we are in situations we have no control over? For example, we may not be able to choose who we work with at the workplace. It may be down to the big boss who pairs people up by skill sets. In this type of situation, you could still maintain some level of control. Try to have some say over how things are done and the process of doing so. At least it would give you some sanity!

A good skill to develop control is in learning a musical instrument. Obviously, the demands of learning instruments vary, depending on which instrument you are learning. If you are learning drums, you need good overall coordination, but won’t necessarily need to have an acute idea of notation like, say for example, you would if you were learning the piano. As the Finsbury Park Piano Teachers website tells us, learning the piano involves six or seven different skills all at the same time. You have to read two different lines of music, understand what the notes and rhythmic symbols mean for each line (that’s four skills already), and then co-ordinate the hands (five) while simultaneously reading the music (six) and having a rough idea of where the keys under your fingers are (seven). The eyes have to scan and take in information while monitoring all these at the same time. So perhaps there’s your key to developing control and confidence to set yourself up for life. Learn the piano!

Inventions and music

Do you want to make a great fortune? Nowadays the world is teemed with people trying to make it big with the next big thing. Everyone wants to make a product that will be consumed and will have great purchases. You may argue that it is an evolutionary trait in humans to invent things. Our forefathers invented things to improve the quality of their lives, or also to improve the yield of their crops and farming. Can you imagine life without items such as the light bulb? Can you imagine what people would have lived like had they had no sanitation? (In many parts of the world, some still don’t.)

One of the inventions that changed the modern world greatly was the invention of barbed wire. The simple principle of intertwining wires together and then laying out these wires across posts to enclose land was so revolutionary, that at one factory, production of wire ballooned from 36 miles of wire to over 250,000 miles of wire just six years later. Barbed wire has made its inventor, one John Gates, a very rich man. Gates used to wager that his wire, however flimsy looking, could keep wild animals penned in, and often took bets on the strength of his wire. But uncannily, it wasn’t the strength of the wire, that helped popularise the invention. It was the advertising and attention brought about by these bets that brought the wire to the eyes of Americans, who were alerted to a cheap material to help them command land.

So barbed wire was an invention that had a modern impact. But inventions do not need to be physical items. They can be ideas, musical structures, and things which exist only in the aesthetic. The composer Gustav Holst wrote a tone poem, a symphonic work – rather than a symphony which composers of the past had written. But tone poems helped break down traditional structures and gave rise to a musical landscape. We would still be writing symphonies if other formal structures had not been invented.

The human spirit involves creativity. Get thinking about ideas, find solutions, and be creative while going about them!

Single Parenting and Music Lessons

How far would you go to live a lie? For one woman in Japan, she has constructed what you might call a web of lies – but all in the hope of a greater good, for her daughter. The woman split from her husband when the girl was born – actually, the husband left and made no attempt at reconciliation or child-support. In some ways single parenting has its advantages if both parents have realised they cannot see eye to eye. The child grows up in an environment that is devoid of arguing, and possibly violence, and one parent can provide some degree of stability that prevents the child becoming anxiety and withdrawn. But on the other hand the lack of a parental figure can cause problems too. There is a lack of parental influence, but also the social awkwardness that comes from meeting peers and their parents and realising you are different.

The afore-mentioned woman hired an actor to play the part of a long-last father seeking a reconciliation. At first the daughter was angry, seeking explanations, and going through the whole gamut of emotions that one would expect her to feel. Then gradually she accepted the man into her life. There have been positives, the mother noted – she is now less anxious, more confident, and less withdrawn not just within herself, but also within the company of her peers. You may conclude that while this seems rather radical an approach, it has been worth it.

But this approach has brought in some other complications too. The man playing the role of her father has doubts about what he is doing, whether he is only complicating the issue – what would happen when the daughter has children? Will they call him Grandpa? How is he going to write himself out of the script without some form of tragedy? And there is an added complication that by virtue of his frequent appearances in the life of the woman and child, even the mother is starting to fall in love with him!

One of the problems single parents face is in giving their children attention. After all, there is one less adult to help bear the load. It may be a good idea for children to take up more leisure pursuits that are good for them, such as team sports, or learning a skill like an instrument. The latter in particular helps to develop practical knowledge in application – that is, it is not just content knowledge, but applied – and it also teaches skills and traits such as perseverance, patience, and drive, all of which help them in future life.

The Piano Teachers Finsbury Park blog has a good article on how children find practice difficult and how to manage their learning. And if you are a single parent, considering giving your children some outlets of expression – asking them to practice each day would give you a break too! It has good tips about making practice attainable and enjoyable!

Teaching as a career

Being involved in education seems a worthy thought. It gives you a chance to be involved with the future generation. It allows you to shape the minds and the thoughts of those who will come after you. And that in itself is a very scary thought. There is also a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. If the children in the school leave without any worthy qualifications that will enable them to find proper careers beyond riding motorbikes and doing deliveries, it’s down to you – or at least, there must be some responsibility borne by you for the children under your care. But of course, it is not entirely your responsibility. After you deduct the hours of sleeping, eating and other matters of daily routine you may find that school roughly takes up half the time of a child’s daily life. The other is at home with the family, and of course if not much education is going on there, then the family has to share the responsibility of the overall culpability!

If you were ever thinking of a career in teaching or education then don’t be seduced by the advertising. Just like the Navy would love you to believe you enjoy the warm seas, sand, while lounging on the beach being watched by beautiful ladies in bikinis, nothing could be further from the truth. No one tells you about the mosquitoes, freezing oceans, having to ration your eating, always feeling cold and tired, and life on a ship and its boredom, and having to submit to the will of the captain, who is God on a boat. It’s the same with teaching. Depending on where you pursue it, you could be put on a pedestal. Or you could be treated like the scum of the earth!

Teaching does not involve just standing in a classroom. You could be a tutor, teach a class, or be some form of an instructor. You could be a music teacher by day, and a piano teacher by night like this Hornsey piano teacher here. It is about packaging your skills in a different way. And after you have become involved in music as a piano teacher, a good career move would be to branch out into other aspects like piano removals, publishing, home moving, event-organising. Leverage your skills and branch out!

How creativity in the music world relates to increasing global population

How many people are there on the planet? If you were asked this question without having fully known the answer, would you have come up with a reasonable figure? What sort of figure would you have come up with? Seven billion? Nearly eight billion? Or splitting the difference – seven and a half?

The latter answer is actually correct. Seven and half billion inhabit the planet. But what if someone assesses you on the rate of population growth? Would you know how long it would be for the world’s population to reach eight billion? What would your best guess be?

Astonishingly, if populations continue to rise we might be speaking of eight billion by the year 2024. Considering it took twelve years to reach the figure of seven billion from six billion in 1999, it may surprise you to know that the population of the world increases by a billion every fifteen years or less. We may be looking at a world population of nine billion by 2040!

These of course are only estimates. And why is it so hard to assess the world population accurately and the rate of growth? One major reason is that the rate of deaths is hard to measure. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons cause loss of life, and these affect future projections. Then there are also human disasters such as war and famine that affect population count. Lastly it may also be that in some countries – especially ones with rural populations – births and populations may not have been recorded properly. What would have to do to get a correct count, and do we need it at all? Would we have to all stand outside of our houses while drones fly over to take pictures of us, and then someone counts the number of heads in the photos? (Or if they have too much time, count the number of hands and divide by two?)

An increasing global population means more competition for jobs. Those in the younger generation have to be even more creative to distinguish themselves from their peers. Of course, those in current professions that are fairly competitive are already doing it. Musicians have much competition for the spending power of fans, and also compete for the airplay. It is no surprise that the Piano Teacher Finsbury Park website tells us how they have migrated simply from the job of playing music to actually other activities such as building a social fanbase, running courses, and doing all sorts of other things loosely connected with music in order to remain in the minds of those that matter – fans and industry professionals.

Teaching these skills to the young – how to be creative – may soon become a feature in the curriculum of tomorrow. Perhaps those of us already in the know – by virtue of experience – can impart some pointers to those after us!

Shopping, fuel and upfront payments

Shopping is one of life’s rituals. For some, it counts as one of life’s escapes from reality. But it would certainly be a rare occasion if grocery shopping is considered one of life’s treats – many would consider it to be one of the things you have to do but don’t necessarily enjoy. What is it about it that makes it so menial? Perhaps it is the drudgery of buying common every day as opposed to buying treats or once every so often purchases. We would most certainly approach grocery shopping as one of the things we dislike.

The advent of technology has made it easier to do our shopping online and have it brought to our homes, but despite this, there will still be the odd occasion when we have to pop into the supermarket. So imagine this – what if the supermarket, to an already disagreeable process for most, started adding another layer of complexity by asking you for a debit payment first, then refunding you the difference if you went below this debit? You may think that this is a weird situation to be in. How could you be expected to estimate the cost of your purchases before you had even walked in the store?

This is what some service stations are proposing – that customers pay up front for their fuel purchases, then get refunded for what they did not use.

The reason why this is being considered is because of fuel theft. Drivers have been driving into fuel services stations, filling their cars up with petrol, and then driving off the forecourt without paying. The theft not only costs lost revenues, but also wastes police time because policemen now have to record, investigate (albeit perfunctorily) and close the case, and there is little chance of conviction; and all these detract from the real serious issues of policing, such as violence on the streets.

ASDA’s trial of upfront fuel payments did not go well and they recalled the scheme. But it is not as far-fetched as it seems. Many people charge upfront payments – according to the Piano Teacher Finsbury Park website, some music schools charge termly fees for lessons in advance, so that they are not messed around by clients. Perhaps the next time you go into a coffee shop, you might pay twenty pounds for a coffee card, beep it for your purchases, and then top it up occasionally? These would mean your coffee purchases are actually faster!

Food for thought and thoughts to fuel your day – sorry about the puns!

Fuelling up for performance

Liverpool manager J├╝rgen Klopp is well known for what he calls a pressing style. Opponents of the football team know what they are up against in theory. The Liverpool defenders will play what is known as a high line, so as to limit the progress of the opposing team’s strikers. But the high line does not merely do that. It means there are more players within a remaining space, the playing area is more compressed, which is where the action happens. The team continues to pressure the opposing players into giving up possession of the ball through making a mistake, and then then suddenly their opponents half is crammed with loads of players.

The pressing style requires a lot of sprints from the players to put the ball player under pressure, and certainly in order to do that you would have to expect they fill up and have the right amount of nutrition. What kind of food is the right kind?
Traditionally food high in carbohydrates such as pasta have been favourites. Like distance runners from Somali also swear by ughali, a kind of food that is high carb. But high carb must be balanced. Carbohydrates take a long time to break down, and the resources required by the body to do so can cause its performance to be impaired. Ever experienced the post lunch slump? What is happening is that your body is hungry because it needs calories. You feed your body by eating, but the problem is that in order to break down the food you have just eaten, your body needs calories – so for a spell it is running on empty, which is why you experience the slump. And what can you do about it? Quite simply, don’t eat when you’re really hungry, eat before you get to that stage.

If you were ever in a music band, you know that concerts can last for over two or three hours and before you get on stage you have to fuel up, and then during the break also fuel up as well in order to finish the concert on a high. But don’t be like one of the members of the band The Drifters (Rudy Lewis), who ended up binge-eating to his death! (You can read more about The Dfiters from the Piano Lessons N8 website.)

So here’s a lesson to take away – stay fuelled up for the activities in your life, but don’t binge! Just eat enough for what you need to do. And the timing is important!