Tag Archives: Music & the Arts

Saxophone Jones ©

Will Jones plays the saxophone

saxophoneMONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) — Music lessons may help keep the brain healthy as people grow older, a new study suggests.

I’ve been noodling around on the guitar since the 60’s, and while I can competently strum some chords and sing a few songs without disturbing the neighborhood cats, I’m not a musician. But, by degrees, I’m moving in that direction.

A long time jazz fan, years ago I bought a tenor saxophone at a local pawn shop and swore I’d learn to play. From time-to-time I’d take it out of its tattered case and work my way through some of the exercises in the Belwin Saxophone Method book I purchased, but soon I’d run out of motivation and go back to plunking the guitar. I’d blame it on being too busy with work, children, lack of natural talent, or just plain laziness.

All that changed when I retired.  I decided it was now or never. I hired a teacher, started taking lessons, practicing daily and learning to read music. A few months ago I played “Happy Birthday” at a friend’s party and recently I played “Summer Time” at a going away party for friends leaving on a one year, round-the-world adventure. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a threat to Stan Getz or Lester Young, two of my tenor sax heroes, but I’m improving all the time.

I’ve told my three adult sons that I plan to live and torment them until I’m at least ninety. I want to know how it’s all going to turn out for them. I figure playing the saxophone will keep my brain healthy and help me achieve my goal. My teacher says I’m almost ready to play in the back row of the County Band. I think I get to wear a royal blue blazer and maybe a funny hat. Does it get any better than that?

photo by Fred Jala

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MUSIC Monday: Evolving Taste in Songs

A Story by Toni Duldulao

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I grew up during the 50s when Elvis was the King of Rock & Roll.  I knew all of the words to all of his songs and still do.  Good memory?  No, in those days it wasn’t hard because the lyrics were extremely repetitive.  After all, what is so difficult in remembering: “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time.” repeated at least four times in a twelve line song?  Thankfully, as I grew older my taste in music evolved too.Post Elvis, Broadway musicals were being made into feature films.  I became a devoted fan of songs from West Side Story, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and The Fiddler on the Roof.  Funny but I don’t remember the lyrics to my favorite songs.  It seems that that the older I become the less reliable is my memory.

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There was a saying among my age group:  “If you remember the ‘60s you weren’t there.”  My problem is I do remember the ‘60s because I wasn’t there.  I was in the convent.  My songs in those days were religious ones in Latin.  I don’t remember those either.  Maybe it was divine providence that my taste in music gravitated toward the classics because it is usually just instrumental and without lyrics.

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When I looked through the list of singers and groups from the ‘70s, and ‘80s I recognized names but couldn’t tell you what they sang.  Actually the only singers I really remember from that time are Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond, but don’t ask me what were my favorite songs because I don’t remember.  Although I do remember Streisand singing some song with Neil Diamond complaining that he didn’t bring her flowers anymore.

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What I can’t forget (and would like to) is later on there was a “new sound” called Punk Rock or Hard Rock and Rap.  “New sound?”  My heavens no, to me it was just awful screaming, instruments playing off key, and speakers turned up so high that the vibration moved them 5 feet with each beat of the “song.”

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Now some sixty years later I have fun listening to an occasional Elvis, Streisand, Diamond, and classical music, but for the last few years my HEART HAS GONE COUNTRY.  Not long ago a friend asked me why I would listen to that “stuff.”  I don’t know but maybe it’s very similar to the old rock and roll AND I can understand the words being sung because they sing slower and use words and terms I understand.  However, other than the latest hit “Red Solo Cup” which is a repetitive song I don’t remember the lyrics except for the chorus…if I’m lucky.  

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Toni,

 When I was 10 you introduced me to music  – you were crazy about Elvis. We sat in your room for hours watching the little black plastic circle go round and round on your new phonograph.  Now it ‘s my turn, let me introduce you to Everlast, a rapper whose music is influenced by the blues. Then there’s the Punk band, The Clash (they too have easy to remember repeating lyrics.) And, a favorite of mine, Metallica; their song ‘Bleeding Me’ is as soulful as any country tune.  Check out these bands on itunes and let me know what you think of the New Sound.

~  Shinazy, founder of BOBB

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photo by shankar, shiv

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