Category Archives: music

Bored During Quarantine? Here’s How to Get Started Learning a Musical Instrument!

by Michael Neufeld

Note from the Editor: We understand that buying new instruments might not be financially possible right now. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but this is what the author recommends as an option.

By now, you’re probably sick of avoiding the sick. What is left to do when you’ve already exhausted your favorite TV shows, read all your books, and grown tired of your arsenal of video games or other hobbies? A great idea would be to learn a new musical instrument! As a music student at Thornton, I already know a few instruments, but I’m taking this opportunity to improve my skills and even to learn a new one. Here’s a brief guide detailing some things to consider when starting out.

Photo from PXHere

The starting place for learning a new instrument is first acquiring an instrument to learn. There are many places to start for something like this, so normally it’s best to go into a physical store and talk to someone who can help you figure out what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, with coronavirus so pressing, it may be a little difficult to go somewhere like Guitar Center to get that help, and you may have to resort to ordering online. Here are a few options to help you get an idea!

For acoustic guitar: There are three examples I have for you as far as price and quality of instrument go. First, the guitar I currently play on is an older Takamine guitar, so it isn’t listed on Amazon; however a similar model is this Takamine Acoustic-Electric for $700. The professional features of a model like this include a beautifully resonant body and a dependable neck for being in tune. The biggest contributor to the cost is the “plug-in” part, with a tuner and some other fancy options on it. However, that’s an example of a very high-end instrument. The average beginner guitar that I started on when I was ten years old is the Baby Taylor for about $350. What you’re getting with this is a smaller guitar with an open body that provides nice resonance for a good sound, and still smaller distances between frets to make it easier for people with smaller hands, or just newcomers to playing guitar. And a cheap case (a necessity) is included if it is bought on Amazon! Still a little outside of your price range? Perfectly understandable if you aren’t ready to commit to a pricier instrument. The cheapest I found at first glance on Amazon is this basic beginner’s guitar set at $44.99. Included is everything you need to get started: a case, a tuner, a pick, a strap, and even extra strings! The tradeoff, though, is you may sacrifice some of its ability to keep in tune, and it might not be quite as resonant. Whatever you choose will be good for if you are just starting off!

Photo from UIHere
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5 of the Best Music Venues in Los Angeles

By Michael Neufeld

Did you know that there is an opportunity all over the Los Angeles area to see great musical performances?

Los Angeles is home to the largest music scene on America’s west coast. In fact, many people argue it is the best place to see musical performances in the nation. Many clubs and bars are open late into the night with a host of musical groups performing. Many theaters exist in Downtown LA, Hollywood, and across the rest of the Los Angeles area. With so many venues, there is never a lack of live music to go see. Here are five of the best places to go see music:

1. Greek Theatre

Photo from Wikipedia

The Greek Theatre is one of the more well known music venues in Los Angeles. This outdoor theater is only open during certain months, typically closed during the colder parts of the year. It’s a great place to go see not only musical groups, but comedians and other forms of live entertainment. With its outdoor atmosphere, one can be in a natural setting amongst greenery under the stars at late night performances. The theatre is located in Griffith Park and seats 5,900 people.

2. El Rey

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

El Rey Theatre literally translates to “The King Theatre,” which makes sense when you see its regal interior. This all-ages venue has been home to both world-famous musicians and local, upcoming newbies. Interestingly, the theatre has committed itself to reducing the environmental impact it has. Although El Rey is a standing-only venue, it is a great place to go see shows.

3. Hollywood Bowl

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

You may have heard of this one before. In one episode of the cartoon “Tom and Jerry,” the cat and mouse duo hilariously go back and forth attempting to conduct a symphonic orchestra performing in a cartoon version of this theatre. The Hollywood Bowl is recognizable by its half-dome-shaped interior, though it is an outdoor theatre. Seating 17,500 people, the venue boasts a wide variety of music, from classics like Mozart to newer music masters like Herbie Hancock.

4. The Wiltern

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

This indoor venue features some of the most ground-breaking performances of music in Los Angeles. The Wiltern is recognizable from a distance by its height compared to surrounding buildings. The theatre seats between 1,850 to 2,300 people, depending on if the ground floor is a standing room or not.

5. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this concert hall is easily recognized by its distinct architecture. Like the Hollywood Bowl, the Walt Disney Concert Hall presents varied music, from the LA Phil to Herbie Hancock. This concert hall features an enormous pipe organ and a gorgeous interior. With over 2,000 seats on all sides of the orchestra, you’ll never have enough to look at, or even listen to. 

Tickets and a calendar for performances for the Greek Theatre, El Rey, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Wiltern can be found on their websites. Tickets and a calendar for the Walt Disney Concert Hall can be found on the LA Phil website.

Featured image by Floyd B. Bariscale on Flickr

Michael is a junior majoring in Jazz Studies at the Thornton School of Music. He lived in Fresno, California until moving to L.A. for college. In his free time, he can be found practicing the trombone, or playing video games. Michael has traveled all around North America, and he loves getting to know new people, listening to stories, and being a friend to others.

The Language of Humans and Me

By Iric Hong

Language is such a sophisticated concept. It can be studied and practiced for years and yet some things will just never be conveyable, or be the same, with only words.

Language, as the words you and I speak, the words your friends and everyone you do not know speak, is universally understood in the general sense. For me, I learned Cantonese alongside English so that I could communicate with my grandmother who raised me for most of my childhood. So I have two languages in my arsenal to convey my ideas. But what about everything else that life consists of? What happens when you do not have the vocabulary to translate your ideas? How are those things explained when words become dull and pointless?

This is where the third “language” I grew up with comes into play. Throughout my childhood, music, a classic way to convey passion, was passed on to me by not only my grandmother and my mother, but also my community, my brethren and sistren.

Passionate music is a truly universal language that transcends the boundaries of the languages we speak. Music has allowed me to understand myself and help others understand more about me than I think I know about myself. One does not have to understand the spoken language to understand the vibe of music. Music, in my opinion, beats to the frequency of one’s core, the frequency hiding behind the many walls setup to protect oneself from whatever life has in store for its people. 

Music has helped me to better understand the world around me and has also helped me to improve how I can convey my ideas when words fail me. In fact, listening to music that is not too fast paced has actually helped me to better understand languages that I am trying to learn while also teaching me specific lingo from where different artists herald from.

I listen to pop, indie pop, hip hop, swing, jazz, etc. But regardless of what you call it, at the end of the day, music is all about passion. Passion speaks louder and clearer than the words that can come out of one’s mouth. Anyone can listen to completely polarizing types of music but still get the same fulfilling feeling of strength because the passion and emotions a composer or artist feels when putting out music is all the same.

While I only listen to the music that people make, that is not to say that music only comes from people and their passion. Our passion was created by nature and we translated that with our instruments but nature has its own instruments in the form of its constituents and its many forces. Rain, the chirping of birds, the crashing of waves, the buzz of insects, the roar of the wind are in its own special way music that beats to the frequency of us all even if we all beat at different frequencies. So, if you’re ever feeling lost in words, whether in English or otherwise, listen to some music, or step outside and listen to the roar of nature, to find yourself again.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Iric is a sophomore majoring in Electrical Engineering. His career inspiration from a very young age was on-screen robotics like Iron-Man and Gundam. He hopes to work in the aerospace industry, as that industry resembles what he wants to strive for the most. He likes to play tennis, play video games, and watch movies in his spare time.