I’m Mindy Peterson, and this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. This week is the week of Thanksgiving here in the US, which is one of my favorite holidays!
Thanksgiving also kicks off a season of gift-giving. Last year, I put together an episode on gifting music to others, because music is THE gift that keeps on giving! All the information in that episode is just as relevant today as it was a year ago, so check that out if you want some gifting ideas, or just want to get your own creative gifting wheels turning (I’ll include a link in the show notes; it was Ep. 71). In that episode I talked about the scientific research on what makes a meaningful gift, as well as specific ideas on gifting music to others (ideas that DO align with what the research shows makes a meaningful gift). Those ideas included a range of options, from experiences, to material objects, to completely free gifts.
Since that episode is still relevant, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel this year, but I did want to share some current thoughts on gifting, partly because I really do love gifts – I guess that’s one of my love languages (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll put a link in the show notes to Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages). But I’m also a minimalist, so a really well-selected, intentional gift brings special delight to my soul! I’m also an efficiency geek, so I figure – if you’re going to buy a gift for someone, make it something that IS meaningful and useful and enhances their life beyond just, OK, this gift-giver checked the box of giving me something, and I appreciate the thought but it’s going right in the donation bin.
Again a gift doesn’t need to be expensive to hit that sweet spot. I’m a frugal Dutchwoman, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to the belief that meaning and intention are much more valuable than a number on a price tag.
The gifting ideas from Ep. 71 and in today’s episode are not specific to Christmas – they can also be utilized for birthdays, Mother’s & Father’s Day, or any other gift-giving occasion.
So with that background, today I just want to share a couple thoughts and ideas, that I’ve had since last year’s episode, on this delightful topic of gifting music.
- This first idea is a direct steal from my guest in Ep. 103, Brea Murakami. For the Coda at the end of our conversation, this is what Brea shared:
“We know that certain songs can take on really personal, deep meanings for our identities and life stories. Several years ago, I decided to make a musical gift for my family that would allow us to share about ourselves in a new, deeper way through music. I asked everyone in my family (about 10 of us in all) to tell me the name of a song that had been really meaningful to them in their life. My dad chose “What a Wonderful World,” an uncle of mine chose a song that reminded him of a friend who had passed away, and a cousin chose “Tiny Dancer,” which she had loved in high school. Then, I recorded myself singing all the songs with guitar and put the recordings on CD that everyone got a copy of. When we got together for Christmas, we played the CD in the background while we all had snacks and chatted. No one knew what songs other people had chosen, so when each new song started, it was fun to guess who had chosen each song and hear the story behind why it was so meaningful to them and connect to parts of each others’ lives that we might otherwise not have gotten to know.”
I LOVE this idea; it is absolutely brilliant and I told Brea right then and there that I wanted to include this in my next gifting episode! And she graciously gave me permission! So thank you, Brea, for this inspirational gift idea.
- A second idea is NOT free. It was a gift that I received last year from a piano student family and it was one of the most delightful things I have ever seen or received; and I had never seen this before so it had that element of surprise to it, too. It’s absolutely brilliant. The gift was Major Scale wine glasses. These are crystal wine glasses with fill lines sandblasted on it with the note from the A Major Scale that is created when you fill the glass to that level. These are available on Uncommon Goods’ website. This is not a paid promotional; I receive no kickback from this! Their description of the item on their website is so clever I just have to read it:
MERRIMENT IN A MAJOR
Keep your next gathering from falling flat with glasses that’ll inspire a symphony
The most memorable parties are like a symphony. A beautiful melody of good wine, witty banter, and a soundtrack that sets the mood. Keep your next gathering from falling flat with these cleverly designed wine glasses. Fill to the desired note, run a finger around the rim, and congratulate yourself on creating crystal-clear sound. If you have enough on hand, you may be in for a real concerto.
Bonus: These glasses are dishwasher safe. I personally always look for things that do not need to be hand-washed, ironed, or dry-cleaned.
- My 3rd idea: I got to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix last December. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend (you can learn more about it in Ep. 81; and actually, they have plenty of experiential gift offerings, too, like virtual classes and field trips). But the idea I’m highlighting is a little item I found in their gift store that I bought and absolutely love. It’s small, inexpensive, travel-friendly, and can be a perfect stocking-stuffer. It is a phone disco light! You just plug this little disco ball into your phone and it lights up to the rhythm of whatever music you have playing on your phone! This is such a fun little thing, and it turns your hotel room into a party – even if it’s just you in the room! I saw that there is a USB version of this, too. I’ll include links in the show notes. One thing I like about this is it encourages music AND movement/dance – it’s hard to NOT move to the music when you have a disco ball flashing. And music AND movement each have huge mood-boosting and bonding potential, but when you combine them, it’s magic with exponential benefits. Bring down the cortisol and boost the oxytocin without any drugs at all.
- My 4th and final thought for today is this: If you know what gift you want, ask for it! Or buy it for yourself! I love the idea of giving someone the perfect gift, and also receiving the perfect gift. My husband does not care about gifts. I’ve come to realize that this makes his birthdays and Father’s Day really easy, because he honestly just does not care about gifts. But when it comes to my gifts, I at some point just started buying exactly what I want and putting it in my husband’s closet with a note: this is my BD gift or Christmas gift or Mother’s Day gift. He’ll wrap it up in time for the event so I can unwrap and enjoy it. This makes us both happy – he’s happy that he knows I’m getting exactly what I want, and that he doesn’t need to play guessing games and try to figure out a gift that will meet my expectations. I like getting exactly what I want; and I’m waiting to open it until the occasion arrives, so I still get the boost of opening the gift and having that be part of the joy of the celebration.
Maybe you know the perfect way you’d like to receive the gift of music – concert tickets, or a new instrument, or an old instrument that you want repaired or refurbished, maybe music lessons. Just go buy yourself a gift card or have the instrument repair done and then have the giver wrap it up for you to open on Christmas (or whatever the occasion is).
If you don’t have someone in your life who would be giving you a gift like this, buy it for yourself! There’s nothing wrong with buying yourself a gift if you don’t have a meaningful gift-giver to recognize holidays or special milestone events in that way.
So those are a few of my thoughts this year on giving the gift of music.
When I have guests on the show, I always ask them to close our conversation with a Coda, a musical ending, by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced their life. I’m going to close this episode with a Coda that is a music-related life-hack I recently came across and loved when I was reading a book. The book is Effortless: Make it easier to do what matters most, by Greg McKeown. It’s not a music-related book, but as you know, music is part of our shared human journey – it affects ALL of us. And when you start paying attention, you’ll see music references everywhere, with everyone. Because it’s a part of all of our lives. Btw, I do highly recommend the book, along with Greg’s first book, Essentialism. I’m going to read from Greg’s book, Effortless, about how the power of music became an invaluable hack in his family life (this is from p. 47). Greg says:
As a family, we eat together every night. It’s an essential ritual for us. We make it enjoyable by starting the meal with toasts, praising one another for the accomplishments of the day and expressing what we are thankful for.
After dinner is when it all starts to break down.
When it’s time to clear the dinner table and clean up the kitchen it is amazing to see how quickly–and how stealthily-our children
disappear. They are like ninjas: silently slipping away to their bed. rooms without the slightest sound or disturbance. Then comes the unenviable job of calling them back, one by one, to do the cleanup work. It feels less like parenting and more like a game of cat and
mouse. The excuses, “I need to go to the bathroom” or “I have homework,” are frustratingly hard to argue with. It’s exhausting,
and our children obviously don’t care for it either. They feel bossed around, and they’re frustrated with the whole thing too. This is necessary work, but it’s unenjoyable for everyone involved. So we decided to approach it in a different way.
We reimagined it as a game. Together, we created a scoreboard: every person was assigned clear responsibilities (like wiping down
all of the surfaces or sweeping the floor). For each one completed, they would earn a point. After a few practice rounds, it was “game
on.” And here’s what happened: nothing.
Dinner was over, and the children, once again, were mysteriously gone. The ninjas were back in full effect.
It wasn’t until my eldest daughter added a new ingredient that everything changed. She put on a playlist of Disney classics-the kinds of songs that make you want to sing along. And we played them loud. It turned the whole thing into a karaoke party. We now do this regularly. And no matter how grumpy we might feel on any given day, it’s impossible not to get pulled in. Now, if you were to drop in on us after dinner, you’d find us belting out “Let It Go” from Frozen, dancing to “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from The Lion King, laughing through “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. It looks like the famous scene where Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown make drinks together in the movie Cocktail. We are sweeping, wiping, washing, drying, and putting away dishes, and all the while we’re laughing, dancing, and singing.
Don’t underestimate the power of the right soundtrack to ditch the drudgery and get into a groove.
Let me know if you try Greg’s music hack – and also let me know what gift ideas you recommend to enhance lives with music. You can reach me on email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. As always, all these links and links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes at mpetersonmusic.com/podcast; this is Ep. 116. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.