10 Affordable & Fun Fall Activities for Families [Infographic]

Fun fall activities

Looking for fun fall activities? From all there is to see in nature – leaves changing, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches – to all the fun crafts and recipes you can whip up indoors, this colorful season is the perfect time to start new family traditions.

If your family is on a budget this year, you’ll love this helpful guide. Our list of affordable and fun fall activities will keep your family entertained from September to November without “breaking the bank.” Christmas will be here before you know it!

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10 Affordable & Fun Fall Activities For the Family

1. Have a Fall-Themed Family Photo Shoot

Decorate your Instagram with adorable family photos taken at the nearest apple orchard. Sport scarves and earth tones to make it the ultimate fall-themed photo shoot. You can even get creative and add the pictures to your holiday cards! (See #9 on this list for more holiday card tips).

2. Take a Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Nothing says “autumn” more than taking a trip to a local pumpkin patch. Try to find one with a corn maze for even more family fun. See who can find the biggest pumpkin and take it home to carve it into something spectacular. Don’t toss out those delicious seeds! Here are some yummy recipes for seasoning and roasting them.

3. Get Spooked Together

Are you a fan of scary movies? Check Netflix around Halloween for new seasonal additions. Grab some popcorn, hot chocolate, and get ready to binge watch Stranger Things! If you’re looking for something on the less spooky side, here is a helpful list of Halloween movies for wimps. (Does “Hocus Pocus” ring a bell?)

4. Craft Your Costumes

Store-bought Halloween costumes can be so expensive, but there are plenty of DIY options that are just as fun and creative. Here are a few easy and unique costume ideas. *Note: Many of these ideas will require a visit to your local craft store or thrift shop. Have fun trick-or-treating!

5. Whip Up Some Pumpkin-Flavored Treats

Pumpkin-flavored muffins, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie… the list goes on and on. Now that pumpkins are in season it’s the perfect time to satisfy your cravings. Baking as a family isn’t just a great bonding experience; it also doubles as a learning one. You’ll get to work on your cooking skills together and best of all- enjoy the fruits of your labor when it’s all done!

6. Have Fun Indoors with Group Music Classes

If it’s too cold outside to visit the pumpkin patch, try out free music classes at TakeLessons Live. These online, group classes are taught live by an expert instructor, whether you want to learn a new instrument or work on your singing skills. Children and adults of all skill levels are welcome to join in the fun. *Hint: This time of year, you’ll find unique seasonal classes such as “Spooky Halloween Piano Songs.”

7. Go for a Hike or Nature Walk

When weather is permitting, a hike or nature walk is an excellent way to get in some beneficial exercise while enjoying the colorful scenery. Have the kids collect pinecones or acorns and paint them when you get home for some festive decor. Here are some fun tutorials on how to make DIY pinecone centerpieces, wreaths, and more.

8. Enjoy Homemade Apple Cider

Apple cider is a fall-favorite because it’s both delicious and easy to make. Pinterest is a great place to go for cider recipes. Many of them only require a few simple ingredients! Enjoy this warm and tasty treat around the fireplace and as Thanksgiving approaches, share things your family is thankful for from the past year.

9. Work on Holiday Cards

The holidays are quickly approaching and now is the perfect time to reach out to your closest friends and relatives. Express your sentiments in homemade holiday cards or letters this year for a greeting they’ll always cherish. If you’d like to add a family photo, check out Etsy for customizable, DIY holiday card templates.

10. Make a Christmas Wish List

Does the thought of Christmas shopping overwhelm you? Have family members fill out a “wish list questionnaire” of their likes and dislikes, favorite movies, candies, or places to shop. Wish lists are a win-win. They make shopping easier and ensure your loved ones will enjoy their gifts. *Bonus Tip: You can even organize a “Secret Santa” within your family so that each person is only responsible for buying one gift.

Each of these fun fall activities are a great bonding experience for the whole family. Do you have any more ideas of affordable things to do in the fall? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Quiz What is Your Learning Style

Quiz: What is Your Learning Style?

No matter what you’re learning, your personality plays a big role! Everyone learns differently, and the strategies that work for one person may not work for another — and that’s OK!

Whether you’re learning a new language or even picking up a new hobby, it’s smart to keep your learning style in mind. That way, you’re setting yourself up for success from the start!

So, what is your learning style? Take the quiz below to find out:

48 Successful People With Unexpected Hobbies

Did you know that Bob Barker once studied karate with Chuck Norris, or that both Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling like to knit? Even brilliant billionaire Warren Buffet loves to play the ukulele. This fun and fast-paced video from Mental Floss will take you on a tour of the hobbies of 44 other wildly successful people, and it might even inspire you to take up a new hobby of your own!

Is there a hobby you would like to learn more about or get better at? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

 

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15 Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever

Small changes in our daily routines can make a huge difference over time. Here are some of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make so that 2017 is your best year yet!

1. Practice gratitude.

Take a moment each day to appreciate the things that are great about your life. The more you notice your blessings and practice gratitude, the happier you will be!

2. Unplug more.

Resolve to put your phone down more and engage with the people in the world around you. Simple things like banning devices during dinner are a great way to feel more connected and enjoy the moment more.

3. Be kind to yourself.

Give yourself a compliment, or splurge on a small surprise treat. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in your worries or insecurities. Instead, choose to be a little kinder to yourself, and you’ll find you have more strength and energy for the things in life that really matter.

4. Be kind to others.

Whether you’re volunteering your time with a charity organization or just doing a favor for a friend, doing things for other people is a great way to boost your happiness. Do small acts of kindness each day to make 2015 a great year for you and your community.

5. Learn something new.

Learning new skills makes you more confident, and you might even discover a new passion for life. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, speak a new language, or take photos like a pro, 2017 is the perfect time to learn.

6. Get active.

Exercise releases endorphins that make you happier, and keeps your body in shape. If you’re not very active, try adding a walk to your daily routine, riding your bike to work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

7. Take a trip.

Traveling is a great way to destress and learn more about the world. Even if you can’t afford a big vacation, why not take a day trip to a nearby destination? Seeing new places is refreshing, and you’ll feel like you’re going on an adventure.

8. Cross something off your bucket list.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? It can be something big, like skydiving, or something smaller like writing a loved one a poem. Whatever it is, find a way to make it happen in 2017, and you’ll have a memory that will last you the rest of your life.

9. Cook something fabulous.

If you’re not great in the kitchen, learn to cook a few stand-out dishes that will impress guests, as well as easy meals that don’t come from a box. If you’re already a great cook, why not try something fancy, like a French pastry or rolling your own sushi? Master some new dishes in 2015 and have fun showing them off!

10. Spend more time with loved ones.

Life is all about the people you spend it with. Take more time for your family and friends this year and see how much richer your days become!

11. Read a great book.

A great book has the power to touch your heart, expand your mind, and even stimulate your creativity. Reading also trains your brain to focus better, an important skill in our increasingly distracted world. Even if you just read a few pages before bed each night, squeeze in some time with a good book and you’re sure to feel the benefits.

12. Go outside.

Take a quick walk in the morning or after dinner and notice things like the color of the sky, the plants around you, and the way the air feels. Getting outside is relaxing, and sunlight helps your body make Vitamin D.

13. Kick a bad habit.

Whether you need to stop overeating desserts, cut down on your TV time, or quit smoking, make this the year that you finally kick your bad habit. Think about it — with your bad habit out of the way, you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy doing the things you really love.

14. Celebrate more.

Celebrate your accomplishments and those of your loved ones! Don’t let achievements go by unacknowledged. The more you celebrate, the more opportunities you will find to share happiness with the ones who matter to you the most.

15. Have fun!

Most importantly, have fun! It’s your life and you get to decide how to make the best of it. Go through your days with a smile and you’re sure to have a very happy new year!

What are some of the best New Year’s resolutions you’ve made? What is your resolution this year? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

 

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10 Essential Songs You Need on Your Halloween Playlist

Whether you’re turning your house into a creepy haunted mansion, heading to a rockin’ Halloween party, or getting the kids dressed up for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, these Halloween party songs are the best way to get into the spirit. No playlist fit for consumption by ghouls and goblins is complete without these 10 essentials. Turn it up, and have a happy and safe Halloween!

1. Thriller

Who doesn’t love the “Thriller” dance?

2. Candy

Because it’s not Halloween without plenty of candy.

3. I Put a Spell on You

For extra bonus Halloween points, check out Bette Midler’s version of this classic tune from the movie Hocus Pocus.

4. This is Halloween

Another great Halloween movie, Nightmare Before Christmas, is full of great songs by Danny Elfman, perfect for this scary season!

5. Dead Man’s Party

Speaking of Danny Elfman, throw a “Dead Man’s Party” with this 80’s favorite.

6. Time Warp

Rocky Horror is always appropriate.

7. Heads Will Roll

Hold on to your heads! This tune is perfect for a Halloween dance-off!

8. Ghost Riders in the Sky

Johnny Cash brings the spooky vibes in this golden oldie.

9. Psycho Killer

Run, run, run!

10. Monster Mash

Because it’s not Halloween until you’re doing the mash!

What’s your favorite Halloween party song? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

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The Healing Power of the Ukulele | Personal Stories and Interviews

learn to play ukulele

Whether you just started ukulele lessons or you’ve been playing for years, there are a number of benefits that result from learning to play an instrument. From social perks to health benefits, it’s important to learn about your instrument and craft. Here, writer, speaker, and host Don Smith shares interviews with ukulele players on the big power of a small instrument and why you should learn to play ukulele…


Gone are the days when the ukulele was just an instrument for comical value. It was common to think of the ukulele as an instrument only played by men in flamboyantly printed shirts in a tropical setting.

Cristine DeLeon, a New Jersey based singer/songwriter, has seen an increase in the use of the ukulele.

“It really is a fun instrument to play,” she says. “My husband got me one about four years ago, when I said I was interested in learning to play.”

And what she has seen is the level of sophistication that musicians have brought to the ukulele. In fact, it can be compared to other trends in the artisan communities, where very basic items are refined into more complex works of creation.

Take macaroni-and-cheese, for example. One blogger writes, “it’s time to ditch the almost-instant stuff (complete with day-glow cheese) for a more sophisticated version.” It’s not uncommon to see higher-end restaurants with mac-and-cheese made with noodles made on premises with more exotic cheeses and other ingredients such as bacon and parsley.

Another example is the adult coloring book renaissance. In a recent article in The Guardian it states that “coloring has been said to be able to help [adults] achieve mindfulness, banish anxiety, and even deal with trauma.”

With that spirit, the last few years have seen a renaissance in the ukulele, and DeLeon is thrilled.

“There are performers like Victoria Vox and Lil Rev who are two of my favorite ukulele performers,” DeLeon says. Both of these performers are serious ukulele players who have made it their life’s work. ”

Another inspiration is the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain,” DeLeon says. “They are fantastic!” The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain formed in 1985 “as a bit of fun,” and since, has inspired other ukulele groups all over the world.

DeLeon took a different direction with her ukulele group. She and fellow musician Jeff Rantzer started a duo called BrassFedora and perform the music of Tin Pan Alley (i.e. “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?” and “My Blue Heaven”) and are able to capitalize on the trend.

DeLeon says that one of the reasons the ukulele has done so well is because the level of complexity of learning the instrument is not as detailed as other instruments, like the guitar.

“For most people, the ukulele is easier to learn,” she says. “Whereas the guitar has six strings, the ukulele has four.” She also feels that the nylon strings of the ukulele are easier on the fingers compared to the steel strings of the guitar. “It can take a while to develop the callouses on the fingers to play the steel string,” she says. “The ukulele is easier on the fingers.”

While it takes several piano lessons before a player can play the most basic songs, the ukulele is quick to learn and quick to play. “When playing it [ukulele], there’s an instant gratification,” she says.

More: 4 Reasons Why Ukulele is the Perfect Stringed Instrument for Beginners


These days, many people learn to play ukulele by watching YouTube. Back in the day, however, musicians learned from books. Justin A. Martell, Tiny Tim’s manager, said Tim learned to play from a book.

“[Tiny Tim] got a book called You Can Play the Ukulele by Don Ball,” Martell says.

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Khaury and made the song “Tiptoe from the Tulips” famous in the ’60s. He’s probably one of the most famous ukulele players who ever lived. Sadly, Tim passed away in 1996 from a heart attack.

Martell has been able to share details about Tim’s life; according to Martell, Tim found it easier to get into the ukulele because he played guitar beforehand.

Martell says that when Tim would audition for shows, he would use the ukulele because it was easier to carry. Martell says that if the performer failed the audition, it wouldn’t be awkward to ask for the sheet music back from the pianist. “[Should] I never make it, I wouldn’t have to hang my head in shame and ask for my sheet music back, I could get right out’,” Martell says, quoting Tiny Tim.

More: Music Lessons for Kids: Should My Child Learn Ukulele or Guitar?


Besides helping Tiny Tim save face, the ukulele has another benefit: health!

In Hawaii, the Roy Sakuma Studio offers a program called “Hands on Healing” which is free of charge for cancer survivors. According to the website, “[The studio] provides an environment where those facing cancer may explore and discover their creative resources to promote physical, mental, and spiritual healing.”

The program helps cancer patients “discover new personal expression in a non-medical setting. It’s a great way to quiet your mind while keeping your hands busy.”

One blogger who suffered from breast cancer, says the program helped her “forget about cancer for a little while.”

“The physical and mental scars are a daily reminder of what we’ve been through,” says cancer survivor Lori Nakamura. “But the [ukulele] program lets me focus on learning new songs, and I know the process is helping with my memory.”

“I’m not surprised to hear stories like this,” DeLeon says. “The ukulele is such a fun instrument and learning a musical instrument helps in all kinds of areas.”

In an article on Effective Music Teaching, some benefits to learning an instrument include better memory, improved coordination, better concentration, stress relief, a sense of achievement, and happiness.

“I have played the guitar for years,” says DeLeon, “and now learning the ukulele has just made my life so much richer.”

With resurgence and health benefits, there will always be the element of fun in the world of the ukulele. Going back to Tiny Tim, Martell wanted to make sure that Tim’s legacy and his place in the world of the ukulele were understood.

“I think he definitely would have liked [the resurgence],” said Martell. “Unfortunately, I think many of those involved in the resurgence – neo-ukers I call them – scoff at Tiny Tim. They overlook the fact, though, that Tiny saved the ukulele from extinction in the ’60s.”

Martell adds, “If people perceive Tiny as a joke, that’s their problem, not his. He was very serious about his craft.”

While Tiny Tim was serious, DeLeon says there will always be a place of whimsy in the ukulele culture. When asked if she believes there will still be a place for the ukulele players with the flower print shirts, she laughed.

“Of course,” says DeLeon. “There will always be a place for fun in the world of the ukulele.”

For a primer on how to play the ukulele, check out at a video of Christine DeLeon (produced in coordination with this article) explaining the basics on how to play the ukulele.

The Basics of the Ukulele with Christine DeLeon from Don Smith on Vimeo.

Ready to reap the benefits of playing ukulele? Find a ukulele teacher near you! 


don smithGuest Post Author:
 Don Smith
Don writes comic books, graphic novels, books, and short stories. In addition to writing, he is also a speaker and a host.  Learn more about Don here!

Photo by Donald Judge

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violin jokes

20+ Violin Jokes Guaranteed to Make You Laugh out Loud

violin jokes

While it’s always important to practice violin scales and songs, sometimes you just need a little break to recharge your batteries and renew your motivation. Get ready to relax and laugh with this list of violin jokes (some original, some classics from around the web) from Lukas Stanley from Music Pick Up Lines (@CMCPickupLines)

You won’t need your violin or your bow, but make sure you have your sense of humor. Tickle your funny bone with these violin jokes, riddles, and puns!


Violin Riddles

Think learning violin is no laughing matter? When learning any new skill, it’s always important to be able to laugh at yourself.

Keep some of these violin riddles in your back pocket and see if you can stump your musical friends!

guaranteed

violin jokes


Q: How many first violinists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: One. They just hold it in place while the world revolves around them.

 

Q: How many second violinists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: It doesn’t matter, they can’t get up that high.

 

violin jokes


Q: What’s the difference between a violinist and a dog?

A: A dog can hear very high pitches.

 

Q: Which musicians are known for being very religious?

A: Violinists. They all think they’re gods.

 

violin jokes


Q: How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?

A: The bow is moving.

If you have experienced this problem (and we all have), check out this beginner’s guide: How to Tune a Violin [Instructional Video]

 

Q: What does the difference between C and B-sharp sound like on a violin?

A: Usually about a semitone.

Need help reading violin notes? Check out this easy-to-follow guide for beginners.

 

violin jokes


Q: What is the definition of a semitone?

A: Two violinists playing in unison.

 

Q: What’s the difference between the concertmaster and the back of the violin section?

A: About half a beat. And all of the bowings.

 

violin jokes


Q: What do a violinist’s fingers and lightning have in common?

A: They both move too fast and never hit the same spot twice.

 

Q: Why do violinists excel at pre-school but often flunk out of kindergarten?

A: They can’t figure out how to count past four.

 

Q: What do you call a violinist who shows up on time for rehearsal?

A: An anomaly.

 

violin jokes

But seriously, don’t throw away your violin! If you’re looking for a new one, check out this guide to the best violin brands!


Violin Jokes

“Did you hear the one about the violinist…” Here are a couple of long-form violin jokes to add to your arsenal.

Violinists are like perfect little snowflakes: no two are exactly alike. Especially when playing a unison melody. And when you put a bunch of them together, everything gets very icy, and everyone is generally pleased once they go away!

 


One day a conductor falls ill and the orchestra manager is in a pinch to find a replacement for the concert that night. Meekly, the last chair second violin raises his hand and says, “I studied conducting…” so he goes on that night and conducts a great concert. The next morning, in rehearsal, his stand partner asks him, “Where were you last night?”

 


Late one night, a violinist accidentally left his instrument in the trunk of his car. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that the car had been broken into, for there were not one, but TWO violins in his trunk.


Music Puns

Who doesn’t love a little play on words when it comes to music? Whether you’re a beginner or experienced musician, you can probably relate to some of these music puns!

It only leads to treble…

violin jokes


These jokes always fall flat….


I’ve been told I’m pretty sharp…

violin jokes


Hey — give it a rest…

violin jokes

 

violin jokes

 

Looking for more music fun? Check out these piano jokes, quotes, and puns.

Have you heard any other violin jokes or music puns? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

Guest Post Author: Lukas Stanley
Lukas is a student at Western Michigan University. He’s studying music composition and music education. He’s also the moderator of the popular Twitter account Classical Music Pickup Lines (@CMPickuplines), which has  been spotted in Buzzfeed and Classic FM articles. When he isn’t composing, teaching, or inventing Liszts of witty music puns, he can be spotted playing piano with his band Blarney Castle, a progressive Celtic band. Learn more about Lukas here.

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learning drums

Drummers Stick Together: Have Fun While You Play – With Henri Benard

learning drums

Every drummer starts out as a beginner. The ones you read about and see on stage stick with drumming and practice relentlessly to improve.  In our Drummers Stick Together series, veteran drummers share their personal stories of learning drums, developing their craft, and following their dreams!

Henri B. is a TakeLessons drum instructor in Phoenix, AZ and plays drums in the indie band, Dry River Yacht Club. Here, Henri shares his personal drumming journey as a student, teacher, and performer…

You describe yourself as a self-taught drummer, can you explain your process to teach yourself drums?

It all kind of started for me the summer of 2002, when I was living in a house with a drum kit. I had been playing percussion with some friends in various bands, and I wanted to be a kit player. So I worked every day for six hours in a hot, sweaty garage that summer, giving myself a crash course on the instrument. I learned by ear and by watching videos. I taught myself to read drum notation, and I really fell in love with the drum kit. Eventually in 2004, I bought my first Ludwig set from Milano’s Music in Mesa, Arizona. I started playing kit in bands, and never looked back.

Almost 14 years later, I’m a professional, touring drummer and drum instructor, with a sound understanding of music theory. And I still work all the time to make sure I’m getting better, as a player and an educator. I do not, however, want to undermine the power of private lessons with an instructor you can connect with. I have had a few lessons in my life, and those have proven to be critical in helping me really learn proper technique, as there was just some stuff videos couldn’t teach me properly. Any time I get stuck in my “self-taught” world, lessons still help me bust through to the next level. And the journey continues…

What were some of the challenges you faced teaching yourself?

I played clarinet growing up, so I was always playing music, but I wasn’t playing drums, formally. I just always loved drums the most. My mom always reminds me I was a “pots and pans” baby, so it has been a passion all my life. However, because of that, I struggled early in my career. I didn’t have the years experience playing as some of my peers, and it would show in my technique.

It was honestly quite embarrassing when people thought I was better than I actually was. I was stuck in my own world, and I needed new ideas and techniques to work on. That’s when I decided to seek out lessons to improve my playing in specific areas where I wasn’t performing or improving. And this is what truly took me to the next level.

You talk about your “let’s have fun while we play attitude,” why is this important for both beginner and intermediate drummers? How can drummers balance having fun with working hard and constantly improving?

I truly believe if you’re not having fun, why play? Music is meant to be fun and challenging for the soul, mind, and body. In my opinion, it’s meant to take you away from your constant state, and move you into a different realm. It’s one of the deepest connections I have with myself and life in general. So I really think it’s important to have fun with the playing, not “goofing around.” It is exciting when you’re first learning, or even as a veteran player, to be able to play a beat that was tough, or play a song you love and make those breakthroughs. If you like to play, the music and learning will be fun.

The lessons will be fun because the people in the lesson want to be there to share an experience together. And if you work hard and keep a solid routine, all the tricks that seemed tough at first will become more focused and deliberate techniques that you will have in your toolbox as a player. And that is where is the fun begins, through improvement and self-confidence from hard work. But YOU have to want it 🙂

You have a lot of experience touring with different groups, how has this changed you as a drummer, did you have to learn to play different genres and styles, or adapt to different types of personalities, bandmates, etc.?

I have been touring with several groups across North America and Europe, and every tour is different, but oddly the same. The people change, the music changes, but the van, the jokes, and the road do not. Every drive, especially if you sit in the same seat of the van, almost starts to look the same. The side views change depending on the region, but the roads and the heads in front of you always look the same, no matter what band you’re traveling with. (I don’t know about Tour Busses…YET!) Balancing personalities can be a challenge unless you’re smart, and understand how to really read your tour mates energy. Being able to read people is a HUGE part of being successful in the music industry, especially as a touring drummer. You have to know when to be there, when to shine, when to pull back, and truly know how to be a team player while you’re working with any band.

I have a love for touring and the experiences that come along with being on the road. I have had some amazing experiences and some struggles. On the whole, I would definitely say touring has changed me not only as a drummer, but as a human being. It’s like in the studio, there’s just a mode drummers are expected to be in at a professional level. And that means delivering every note, every night, right on the money! I’m thankful for these experiences, they have shown me new grooves I wasn’t playing, and taught me how be comfortable with myself. For example, I couldn’t play a shuffle to save my life eight years ago. I went touring for a year with a band where I HAD to play the shuffle, and you better believe the first couple of shows didn’t go so well.

I forced myself to learn how to play it with confidence on every note and pushed through to become a more refined musician. I kept the gig for the duration of the record because I was able to adapt and wanted to be better. Overall, I wouldn’t trade the way the last 10 years of my life have been for anything, especially since I’m not bred from a family of musicians. I am proud to say I am self-made.

How has your experience as a musician affected your approach as a teacher? Do you think you have a different perspective since you were self-taught?

My experience as a musician has affected how I teach, but it’s even deeper than that, as I had a teacher who almost killed my vibe. She was always so mean and never seemed like she wanted to be there with us (the students). It made me want to quit playing, but my mom didn’t let me. And I’m so thankful she didn’t…I don’t think I would be where I am if my mom didn’t push me to keep playing and encourage me.

Because of this, I have decided to always be a fun and patient teacher who doesn’t ever want to kill someone’s vibe. This is also the reason I stress the “fun” aspect of our lessons. Pushy, rude teachers have no business teaching, in my opinion, at least not beginners. And I don’t think I have a super different perspective, being self-taught. I still demand the most out of my students, and I make sure they’re becoming well-rounded musicians and have very structured lesson plans; I just make sure we make it fun in the process. We all start somewhere.

What is your favorite thing about being a drummer? (if you can name just one)

My favorite thing about being a drummer is watching people dance to the music I play. Period. Even during sound check, just watching the heads nod and the feet tap when the bass drum comes through, it’s just amazing. Drums control so much of the vibe, and so much of a player’s personality goes into the instrument. You’re an energy creator at the drums; you’re pushing air into the room and creating an environment that goes deep into the soul.

Plus, you get the best view in the house. You get to see everyone and everything at all times. You can just unleash the beast and let it flow, and there’s no other instrument I have ever played that brings out the animal in me like the drums.

Do you still get nervous or excited for big shows, how do you keep yourself focused and grounded?

I do get nervous before big shows and I’m always excited to play. Big shows are the best, especially as a drummer, in my opinion. I stay focused by breathing and just having fun. It’s not that I don’t take my shows seriously, but music is meant to be a release. It’s a fun job, but I always remember it’s my job and I’m there to perform and deliver what people are expecting of me, and I am expecting of myself.

At the end of the day, the energy you put out is the energy you get back from an audience. Not every big crowd is always there for you, especially for newer bands, so you have to remember to play your best every time you step out on the stage, put out your vibe, and make the room yours. Whether it be in the practice room, for a crowd of 5 or 5,000, at a festival, or in a small club, I always just trust my abilities and play with the same level of intensity. Even though live the energy is

At the end of the day, the energy you put out is the energy you get back from an audience. Not every big crowd is always there for you, especially for newer bands, so you have to remember to play your best every time you step out on the stage. Put out your vibe and make the room yours. Whether it be in the practice room, for a crowd of five or 5,000, at a festival, or in a small club, I always just trust my abilities and play with the

Even though when you play live, the energy is insurmountably greater, I still find that space in my head in the practice room, even at the big shows. And anytime I get nervous, all I have to do is go right back there and trust that I am supposed to be here; I planned on this!

What advice do you have for a drummer who is discouraged or struggling?

Stick with it and work through your struggles. When I was 25, I joined a “big band” out of Joshua Tree, California called Gram Rabbit. At the time, I was super appreciative of the opportunity to play bigger shows with bigger bands at better venues, especially being just a little guy from Phoenix. My problem was, I was forced to play with a click live, and I had never done that before. With some encouragement, I was able to play to a click live, but I never felt comfortable with it during my time in that band.

Eventually, I got cut from the band because of my timing issues in the studio, and it really hurt my confidence. I almost gave up drums and questioned if I could even keep time. But I didn’t quit. I got back on my throne and hit the garage hard, like I did when I first started playing, making sure I was dialed into that click at any tempo.

Years later, I joined a band called Peachcake. This was a band that used tracks, so I was playing to a click there, but it never bothered me in my years in Peachcake. I loved it and it gave me more confidence. We even got to play a headlining slot at Slottsfjell Music Festival in Norway in 2012.

Instead of quitting, I worked on my weaknesses to improve my all-around playing, and that lead to many more amazing opportunities. It would have been so easy to quit, but I was never about that life. I just always remember there is someone better than me, and that keeps me motivated and focused to be the best drummer I can be.

 

 Looking for more inspiration? Check out the personal stories in our Drummers Stick Together series!

 

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Henri B. teaches drums, guitar, and songwriting in Phoenix, AZ. Henri has years of experience touring with Arizona-based groups like Dry River Yacht Club, Decker, and the Sun Punchers. Learn more about Henri here!

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spanish traditions

20 Spanish Traditions, Customs, and Superstitions

spanish traditions

One of the best ways to improve your understanding of the Spanish language is to learn more about Spanish traditions. A major aspect of any culture is its traditions.

Spain, and other Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, have very unique traditions that are fascinating to learn about, and they might just inspire you to plan a visit soon!

No matter where you are in your Spanish lessons, you will love learning about the Mexican and Spanish traditions, holidays, and customs on this list.

Click through this table of contents if you’re looking for something specific:


Spanish Traditions

Piñatas

PIÑATA

You may have already seen cardboard piñatas decorated in brightly colored paper-mâché at childrens’ birthday parties. Blindfolded participants try to hit the piñata with a stick, to break it open and spill out fruits, candies, and other treats hidden inside.

There’s a lot of speculation about the true origin of the piñata. Some believe they originated in China, in animal shapes like cows and oxen. Other reports claim that piñatas originated in Mexico with the Aztecs and Mayans, and were originally clay pots made in the shape of the gods.

When piñatas first came to Spain, the first Sunday of Lent was called the “Dance of the Piñata.” While the first piñatas in Spain were made of clay, decorations and bright colors were eventually added to the design.

Even though the history of the piñata has spiritual significance, modern-day piñatas are mainly used for games during parties and celebrations. It’s also one of the most widely popular Mexican traditions.

 Quince Años

spanish traditions

For girls in Hispanic countries, the 15th birthday signifies a coming of age. The family throws a big party, called a Quinceañera, which begins with a Misa de acción de gracias, or giving thanks for completing childhood

The festejada (birthday girl) wears a formal dress and receives gifts from family members. Common Quinceañera gifts include tiaras, bracelets, and earrings.

A traditional Quinceañera begins with a church ceremony, followed by a party with food, music, and dancingThis is also one of the most common Mexican traditions.

Carnival

Spanish traditions

In Spanish-speaking countries, Carnival celebrations are held between late January to early March, the time leading up to Lent.

Carnival is generally recognized as the final chance to celebrate before Lent. There are many festivities, including dancing and music, throughout the day and night. Spanish traditions for carnival also include dressing up and wearing masks.

SEE ALSO: 50 Interesting Facts About Spain


Mexican Traditions

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Spanish traditions

Devout Catholics in Mexico make a pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City every year on December 12th. The date commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in 1531.

According to the story, no one believed that Juan Diego had seen the Virgin and asked him to return with proof. The Virgin reappeared and told Juan Diego to collect flowers in his coat.

He returned to see the archbishop of Mexico City and dropped the flowers. A miraculous picture of the Virgin had formed on the material, which today is displayed in the Basilica. Many Mexican traditions such as this one have religious significance.

Día de la Independencia

spanish traditions

Dia de la Independencia (Mexican Independence Day) falls on September 16th, but begins the night before when the President of Mexico rings the bell at the National Palace in Mexico City and shouts “Viva México!” This is one of the most widely celebrated Mexican traditions.

There is a national military parade ever year on September 16th, and to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule, people decorate their homes, dress in the colors of the flag, throw confetti, and hold parties where they feast on traditional foods.

San Judas Tadeo

spanish traditions

This is another one of the many Mexican traditions with spiritual significance. San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus) is known as the Saint of Lost Causes. On the 28th day of every month, people gather at San Hipólito Church, the church dedicated to St. Jude in downtown Mexico City.

People bring icons and statues of St. Jude, and ask for his blessing and help in difficult circumstances. The same events are held every October 28th, which is St. Jude’s saint’s day.


Spanish Christmas Traditions

 Posadas

spanish traditions

Originally Spanish Christmas traditions, Posadas are now also Guatemalan and Mexican traditions. In Spanish, posada means “inn,” and in Mexico, people hold candles and sing songs as they reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem.

Christmas Posadas last from December 16 until Christmas Eve.

Nochebuena

spanish traditions

Nochebuena (“the Good Night”/Christmas Eve) is a family event, celebrated with a feast. Traditionally, families would have lechón (pork) for dinner on Nochebuena, but in more recent times, the meal varies depending on the region.

Dinner generally incorporates music and gifts, and many families also attend Misa del Gall0 (Midnight Mass) on Nochebuena.

 Misa del Gallo

spanish traditions

Another one of the religious traditions in Spain, the midnight mass on Christmas Eve is called Misa del Gallo (The Mass of the Rooster). This event is known as The Mass of the Rooster because it’s believed that a rooster crowed at midnight the day that Jesus was born.

In Spain, attendees first light small oil lamps in their home before setting out to the church. In Bolivia, people only eat after mass, usually a traditional dish of picana de pollo, a chicken stew with carrots, peas, and potatoes.

Reyes Magos

spanish traditions

Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) starts on January 5th with a reenactment of the arrival of the Three Kings. The Spanish Christmas tradition features a parade, Cabalgata de los Reyes, where the Three Kings arrive on horseback or on decorated floats, and throw treats and presents to the children.

Before bed that evening, children leave goodies for The Kings, and leave their shoes out for The Kings to fill with presents.


Spanish Holidays

Día de los Muertos

spanish traditions

In Hispanic cultures, it’s important to remember family members and friends who have passed. Día de los Muertos is a particularly significant holiday in Mexico, where it’s observed on November 1st and 2nd.

Mexican traditions for Día de los Muertos combine Catholic elements with Aztec rituals. People create altars in their homes with photos, foods, and other objects that have some link to the deceased.

They also visit the graves of their loved ones, where they may spend hours or even the entire day. Art related to the holiday depicts skeletons enjoying life on the other side.

Semana Santa

spanish traditions

Semana Santa (Holy Week) runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, and is one of the most important events of the year in Catholic countries.

While all of Mexico celebrates Semana Santa, different regions have different events. Many Semana Santa celebrations include cascarones (colored egg shells), church services, and the Passion Play – the reenactment of the “Passion of the Christ.”


Spanish Customs

 Las Serenatas

spanish traditions

One of the more romantic traditions in Spain, this unique custom involves hiring a band of mariachis, or arriving with a group of friends, to play music below a lover’s window.

Traditionally, the recipient of the serenata keeps the light off during the first song, turns the light on for the second, and comes out to the balcony (or at least opens the window) for the third song.

“Provecho”

spanish traditions

This is the Hispanic tradition or custom of wishing someone a good meal. It’s similar to “bon appétit” in French, but it’s not restricted to fine dining.

You can say “provecho” when you sit down to a meal with family or friends, or you can use it in passing, if you see someone you know who is about to eat.

RELATED: 20 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases

Siestas

spanish traditions

A siesta, or afternoon nap/rest (between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.) is one of the classic traditions in Spain and other Hispanic countries.

The three-hour siesta doesn’t necessarily mean nap time for everyone. Some people will take a long lunch, while others will use the  break to spend time with their family.

“La Mordida”

spanish traditions

La Mordida is one of the Mexican traditions for birthdays.

While friends and family sing “La Mordida,” the birthday boy or girl must take a bite of birthday cake without using his or her hands. This generally results in a face full of cake.


Spanish Superstitions

 Mal de Ojo

spanish traditions

There’s a great fear of the mal de ojo (evil eye) in some Hispanic traditions. The superstition dates back to medieval Europe and the belief that a look can curse people, or cause children to become ill.

There are different remedies, like amulets and bracelets, for mal de ojo, and some more specific cures in different regions. For example in Central America, people believe that mal de ojo can be cured by rubbing around the eye socket with an umbilical cord.

La Mal Sal

spanish traditions

La mal sal means bad salt or bad luck. Many people refuse to take a saltshaker, when it’s handed to them, as this is seen as receiving someone’s bad luck. Instead, you must place the salt shaker on the table, within reach of the person who wants it.

Sweeping Over Feet

spanish superstitions

Some Hispanic traditions say that if you sweep over someone’s feet, that person will never marry.

Also, it is believed that leaving an upside down broom behind your door can ward off unwanted visitors.

Cutting Babies’ Hair


haircut

You may want to think twice before cutting your baby’s hair. According to Spanish superstitions, cutting a baby’s hair before he or she learns to walk, will prevent him or her from learning to do so.

Also, if you want your son or daugther to learn to speak in Spanish, do not cut his or her hair before they turn one.


If you want to experience these Spanish traditions firsthand, consider taking a trip to a Spanish-speaking country soon. To get ready for your trip, you can also take some free online Spanish classes so you know how to communicate with the locals.

Do you know of any other customs or traditions in Spain? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Photo by Joey Parsons

japanese holidays

12 Japanese Holidays and Celebrations [Infographic]

japanese holidays

From January through December, there are many ways to participate in Japan’s special occasions. So if you’re taking Japanese lessons, make sure you get in on the fun! Mark your calendar, here are 12 Japanese holidays you should remember.

Ganjitsu – New Year’s Day

January 1st

People around the world celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. In Japan, many businesses remain closed until the 3rd, and there are all types of parties and traditions.

Japanese people view each year as a fresh start—so you should leave your worries and troubles behind, and start the new year with joy, happiness, and a new perspective.

Kenkoku Kinen no Hi – National Foundation Day

February 11th

National Foundation Day is a historical holiday on the 11th of February. The holiday commemorates the formation of the nation. The National Flag is raised and the prime minister gives a speech; Japanese people show their national pride by waving their flags.

Hina Matsuri – Girl’s Festival

March 3rd

Parents wish their daughters success and happiness. Dolls and peach blossoms are displayed in many houses throughout Japan.

Shunbun No Hi – Spring / Vernal Equinox

March 20th / 21st

This national holiday welcomes the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It’s also a time to visit graves and honor your ancestors. It’s a favored holiday for farmers, who pray for an abundant harvest.

Showa No Hi – Showa Day

April 29th

Part of Golden Week, Showa Day takes place on April 29th. Once known as the Emperor’s Birthday, then Greenery Day (which is now May 4th), it commemorates the Showa Era (1926 – 1989).

Golden Week

April 29th – May 8th

Golden week combines four national holidays in Japan. May 3rd is Kenpo kinenbi (Constitution Day), and commemorates the new constitution which was put in place in 1947. May 4th is Midori no hi (Greenery Day), which celebrates nature and the environment. Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) is the last Golden Week holiday, and families pray for their son’s health and future success.

Summer Solstice

June 20th – 21st

It’s not an official national holiday, but chances are you can find a celebration to attend. The summer solstice recognizes the longest day of the year—a tradition honored in Japan and around the world.

Umi no Hi (Marine Day / Ocean Day)

Third Monday in July

Ocean Day is a holiday to give thanks for the ocean’s bounty and its importance to Japan as an Island nation.

Mountain Day

August 11th

Mountain Day will become an official holiday on August 11th, 2016. It will not only give people a day off from work, but also will provide an opportunity to appreciate and study the benefits of mountains.

Keiro no Hi (Respect-for-the-Aged Day)

Third Monday in September

This holiday is all about celebrating and showing respect for elderly people in the community, and expressing gratitude for their contributions.

Taiku no Hi (Health and Sports Day)

Second Monday in October

Health and Sports Day is a national holiday that commemorates the opening of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The holiday also encourages a healthy and active lifestyle.

Kinrō Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day)

November 23rd

As the name implies, Japan’s Thanksgiving celebrates workers, and honors the labor and production in the country.

Tennō Tanjōbi (The Emperor’s Birthday)

December 23rd

The emperor’s birthday is always a national holiday in Japan. Akihito, the current Japanese emperor, was born on December 23rd, so the holiday coincides with his birthday.

japanese holidays

As you take Japanese lessons, learn as much as you can about these special Japanese holidays. Learning about holidays and traditions makes learning Japanese that much more fun!

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