Happy Pete – The Name Says It All!

Seriously! I’m really happy that I found another amazing example of a person loving their life, living an awesome life, despite dealing with MS (or any other medical condition.)

I’m continually adding to my list of “personal heroes”!!!

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Musical Monday – Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)

Hello on this incredibly snowy Musical Monday!

I’m getting braver! Here’s a recording of me actually performing the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria in Church for their Jubilee celebration, three nights ago. I got sick a few weeks ago and haven’t quite recovered yet, but now that this celebration is over I can maybe relax and sleep. For a year or so. Or at least until I feel human again. Crappy compromised immune system!

Anyway, this was a “Damn the MS and just do it” situation for me. I had made the commitment, so it didn’t matter how I felt, I just practiced and practiced and then performed, and I’m pretty proud of how it sounds. I wouldn’t want to be in this kind of situation very often, but I proved to myself that… just maybe, I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Kinda cool!

And yes, it really is snowing at the end of April. It’s been snowing on and off for days. I’d rather have snow than flooding, but I *would* like to see the ground at some point. And, you know, summer and stuff.

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Musical Mondays – Mike Tompkins is My A Cappella Hero!

Mike Tompkins is amazing – he started out as a beat-boxer and now he does multi-layer a cappella tracks like this – his amazing version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

I sent this to my voice teacher, and she pointed out that not only does he sound amazing, but his pitch and tempo are absolutely perfect for each layer that he recorded.

So: my lesson here – don’t layer bad tracks hoping that, blended, no one will notice the errors. Don’t hurry them to just “get it out there” unless there’s a reason to do it. (When I first started blogging, I was told “sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity” hahaha!) Don’t try to get everything recorded in a single session, your voice won’t like you much after 8 or 9 hours of singing. And most of all, work each layer until you like how it sounds by itself. THEN put everything together and publish it, because THEN you’ll be proud of what you’ve done!

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MUSICAL MONDAY – MS, A CAPPELLA MUSIC, AND YOUR BRAIN

Welcome to Musical Monday! I’ve decided to show a little of what’s possible with A Cappella singing, and why I think it’s an amazing and valid tool for anyone who is interested in developing their voice AND their brain.

First off, here’s an example of a crazy amazing song by a Grammy award winning A Cappella group called the “Swingle Singers.” Notice that even though (obviously) they are ALL amazing singers in their own right, the really important thing here is the vocal blending and harmonization, which makes the whole song a different experience than just a soloist standing up with a microphone. They’re not even using words (although there may be words in a language I don’t know at the very beginning and end?) and it brought tears to my eyes! It’s such a gorgeous arrangement.

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I’ve found an article that explains really well exactly *WHY* A Cappella works as a learning tool – not only does it force you to really think about the melody and the music, but simply LISTENING to it will help develop your ear and help create more of those ever-important neural pathways. Since I have MS, I’m *VERY* interested in anything that helps build more pathways. I want to keep exercising my brain, and I’m hopeful that exercises like this, coming up with new ways of thinking about “normal” things like music (or art or ANYTHING creative) will help to replace some of the pathways that I’ve lost. I really feel like I need to pay more attention to lifelong learning than most other people, so it might as well be with something I honestly enjoy doing. THIS IS WHY HOBBIES ARE SO IMPORTANT!!! Creating anything new can actually change the physical landscape of your brain, especially if you make a HABIT of creating new things. Even just doodling a page a day can help.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE ON WHY A CAPPELLA IS AWESOME FOR EAR (AND BRAIN) TRAINING

As always, I’d love to hear your views on anything I’ve talked about here. Just click the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button below!

MS Research from Caltech!

Here’s an interesting article I ran across from Caltech a couple of years ago. Has anyone heard anything else about this research? Any updates?

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Of Bugs & Brains: Caltech Researchers Discover that Gut Bacteria Affect Multiple Sclerosis

PASADENA, Calif.—Biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a connection between multiple sclerosis (MS)—an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord-and gut bacteria.

The work—led by Sarkis K. Mazmanian, an assistant professor of biology at Caltech, and postdoctoral scholar Yun Kyung Lee—was published July 26 in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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To read the rest of this article, CLICK HERE!

As always, I’d love to hear from you, especially if anyone has any comments about the research discussed in this article!

Hobbies and MS – Musical Monday – The Rose!

I’ve talked before about hobbies and singing in a post called Hobbies, Compromise and MS. I finally decided to upload a recording of me singing something! Not opera though. I’m not brave enough for that yet.

I’ve been playing with Audacity (BEST free music editor out there IMO) and came up with this – it’s all me singing, 14 different layers, and although I know there are a LOT of errors in timing and pitch, I’m still pretty proud of it!

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So there it is, my proof that hobbies don’t need to end with a medical condition, or going on long term disability. Consider taking up a new hobby that suits your current skill-set, since you NEED to find something enjoyable in your life! Or work with something you’ve always been interested in but haven’t had time to experiment with. I finally have time to play with music and harmony! It’s a learning experience – from this I learned I REALLY REALLY need a metronome because I actually sang each part slightly slower than the last, and I did the lyrics last, so by the time I got to them the timing was incredibly WAY off. But I did my best, and I think it sounds pretty good.

Hobbies are really important for your peace of mind. I made the mistake of cutting myself off from my hobbies for a LONG time, and my confidence and self-concept really suffered as a result. Hobbies help keep you rounded as a person, the opposite of “putting all your eggs in one basket” as I had done with work. I needed to rediscover my hobbies just to feel human after my “basket” suddenly disappeared. It took a long time, but I’m starting to feel better, because my hobbies are things I can actually do! Singing is a reminder that I didn’t suddenly stop being a person, with skills and talents, after becoming unable to work.

I’m going to try and post something music-related every Monday. It may be a description of how to make a video like this, or another song, or a cool tutorial. I am also open to suggestions here, just comment below! Yay for Musical Mondays!

MS Foundation E-Magazine – Awesome!

The MS Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has a great online magazine called MS Focus. They publish a new magazine four times a year, and all the magazines are accessible from the same page!

YOU CAN READ THEM HERE

I especially love the first article about small changes leading to big improvement. It’s in the Winter 2013 Issue. I love the idea of baby steps, because they’re small, non-threatening steps you can actually take right now, and baby steps in sequence can still lead to something huge.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to figure out everything right now. You only need to know what you want to do NEXT!

So what’s your next baby step?