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6 Outside-the-Box Gifts for Musicians

6 Outside-the-Box Gifts for Musicians

If you know anyone who can be considered a true musician, you know how quirky they can be. They’re always looking for some new way to make music, and will experiment with pretty much anything at their disposal as long as it allows them to be creative. Luckily, the Internet is full of instruments and products that allow musicians to express themselves through notes, chords, and…sometimes, plain noise.

Digital Audio Workstation

A digital audio workstation, such as FL Studio, is a way to “compose, arrange, record, edit, mix, and master professional quality music” on your own personal computer if you are a musician. Though a bit pricey, these workstations can help take recreational musicians to the next level in their playing. DAWs can be used by bands working toward cutting their first CD, or DJs looking to get their dubstep mixtape heard. Just be sure not to bother them while they’re recording.

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Kaleidoloop

Sometimes music isn’t just about notes on a scales; it’s about appreciating the sounds all around you. Enter Critter & Guitari’s Kaleidoloop. This little gadget collects sounds all around you, allowing you to record and store them as you go. With over three hours of recording time built into the memory card, a musician can store thousands of sound clips and bites, from the birds singing outside your window to the crackling of a campfire. With Kaleidoloop, you can “invent new musical games,” and “explore new harmonies” at all times.

Electric Thumb Piano

For the musician in your life that always breaks out the weirdest instruments you’ve ever seen, check out these cedar thumb pianos. If they look primitive (except for the whole amplifier jack thing), that’s because they’re based on the mbira, an African instrument invented thousands of years ago. You might not see much use in the small instrument outside of a novelty, but your musically-inclined friend will definitely find a way to sneak it into his next recording.

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Travel Acoustic Guitar

There have been many times in my life in which I wanted to bring my acoustic guitar to a party or campout, but simply didn’t have space in my trunk to store it. The Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar makes those worries a thing of the past. It’s slender frame allows it to fit in the tiniest of spaces, and its lightweight body makes it easy to lug around. However, just because it’s small doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound good. As it is meant for travel and outdoors play, it promises “strong intonation” and durability. I probably don’t have to warn you of this, but just don’t mistake it for firewood.

Theremini

You may have heard of the theremin, the instrument you play without actually touching it. The Moog Theremini makes playing the theremin a little less complicated, and provides “new ways to experiment with music, education, and gestural control.” It includes a built-in tuner, so the player can see not only what note he’s playing, but how perfect his pitch is. it also comes with a built-in speaker, but also can be plugged into an amplifier.

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Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Okay, this last gift might be more for the person giving it than the one receiving it. If you purchased any of the gifts on this list for a significant other or family member who you happen to live with, you might also want to invest in a pair of Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones. They provide full sound, while virtually eliminating any outside noise – even when not playing music. Bose makes specific models for Apple or Android products, and with a small adapter jack they can be plugged into most amplifiers as well. Or, you could buy them for yourself while your friend rocks out.

Featured photo credit: Weird Al Yankovic in Las Vegas / michaelbwelch / flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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