For music fans who attend a few concerts a week, there’s nothing worse than being stuck at home. But there are still ways you can keep up to date with the industry and your favorite artists, all while increasing your music knowledge and learning something new in the process. Here are a few suggestions on how to keep your mind musically engaged.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Musical Instrument Museum
Rated as one of the top 20 museums in the United States and number one in Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) displays over 7,000 instruments from over 200 countries. Using Google Street, virtual guests can check out different displays categorized by regions and continents from across the globe. These displays cover everything from ancient African instruments made from animal bones and organs, to a complete orchestra of a Chinese opera, to the history and production process of guitars and pianos. There are tours of every single exhibit.
You can also check out MIM’s YouTube to watch concerts for a range of videos, like "TimeLapse: Reverse Engineering an Electric Guitar” and "DIY Kids Instrument Craft: Washboard and Spoons," the latter of which is just one of the main MIMkids resources for easy educational and instrument-building videos.
Live concerts are also available, ranging from popular, almost instantly sold-out shows like acoustic Hot Tuna and Booker T. Jones. And if you’ve never experienced the acoustics at the MIM, you’re in a for a treat.
Read a Music Memoir or Biography
Get up close and personal with some of your favorite musicians just by cozying up with a book on your coach. Here are a few of the top rated by Rolling Stone magazine, and a few of this writer’s favorites over years of research and reviewing rock memoirs.
Get inside artists' heads and hear about their journeys to the top, bottom, and in between with reads like
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson; Life by Keith Richards; Just Kids by Patti Smith; The Autobiography by Chuck Berry; Creative Quest by Questlove; and What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson
Dive deep into genre history and the stories behind them with books like the Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz; Decoded by Jay-Z; Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen; Louder Than Hell by Jon Wiederman and Katherine Turman; and Running With the Devil by Robert Walser.
Or learn about how music has influenced the world and pop culture, and the stories behind that evolution, with reads like I Killed Pink Floyd's Pig by Beau Philips; Why Sinatra Matters by Pete Hamill; and They Call Me Supermensch by Shep Gordon.
Better Yet, Read Up on Your Local Arizona Legends
Arizona has a wealth of superstars, so you can read up on them while keeping an eye out for tidbits about your home state.
There's Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare by Martin Popoff; Alice Cooper, Golf Monster by Alice Cooper; and Snakes! Guillotine! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway.
Tool's Maynard James Keenan wrote in A Perfect Union of Contrary Things about his early days with Green Jelly, as well as his vineyard in Jerome and life in Arizona.
Megadeth's Dave Ellefson has two books: My Life With Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock and Roll by Ellefson and Joel Mciver, and More Life With Deth.
And Judas Priest's Rob Halford has a memoir coming out in September 2020 called Confess that you can preorder now.
Get Familiar (No, Really) With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame online and study up on everything there is to know about some of the biggest artists in music history. Just type in an artist's name, and get all the goods: when they were inducted, who inducted them, the induction video, and the up-close high-resolution exhibit of the artist’s wardrobe, nostalgia, influence, and more.
But that's not all. Check out the free online learning section to enroll in Rock Hall EDU for free. You can learn about how the Beatles expanded music with their composition and the story behind trailblazing female inductees, download playlists, and more.
Play a Music-Inspired Board Game
Spur some friendly competition in your household with a range of board games (that's right, take a break from those screens for a bit). Some standouts include Rolling Stone's Rock and Roll Party Game (for anyone whose ever heard a song); Wayne’s World VCR Board Game; the Ultimate Music Quiz Game; Say What You See, Quick-Fire Catch Phrase game (Music Edition); The Mixtape Card Game: Song and Scenario board game; James Corden Carpool Karaoke board game; or the 2000s Music Trivia Game.
Learn an Instrument
Whether you’re dusting off that old clarinet at home, investing in a guitar, or just exploring what instrument might be right for you, there are a lot of resources out there.
First, find what instrument might be the best fit with this quick and easy guide. Then, see what learning process works best for you: ear training or reading music. It’s important to understand chords and scales, recognize different sounds by ear, and read sheet music. Here are eight top-rated apps for ear training and 10 sites where you can learn to read music.
Next, check out tutorials for exercise on the fundamentals of music and music theory on a site like Teoria, and for everything there is to know on just about every instrument, there’s no better free resource than YouTube for lessons. Once you’ve got the basics, search for lessons specific to your instrument, and you can find free sheet music on sites like Musicnotes.
Keep an Eye on Local Music to Keep the Scene Alive and Well
Here’s a few tips to get involved in Phoenix’s music scene: Look for city music groups on Facebook, keep an eye on your local venue calendars, and support local music organizations. For example, you can volunteer or donate to Girls Rock or Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center or keeping tabs on AZ Music Fest. Also, check the social media accounts of your favorite local bands and ask them how you can help. Of course, you can also buy merch from their websites.
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