Making Music For Life – review


After a handful of books I have reviewed recently, I had decided to focus on different topics in my writings, at least for a while. But then I discovered this new book from Gayla M. Mills and I couldn’t resist. It is as much to the point what is about, as it could be. The title explains it quite well: Making Music For Life – Rediscover Your Musical Passion

The truth is, that I have found a few more very interesting books on this topic, so I will be expanding the Musicably website and adding a dedicated link to this type of resources. And also other resources, that could be valuable for my readers.

This is how Gayla introduces herself in her book: “I returned to music in my forties. I was an amateur guitar player, mediocre singer, and rusty bass player. I had last performed as a teenage Sunday school music teacher, leading my kids in song to a captive and sympathetic audience. I knew very little about music and nothing about the music business.”

Now in her fifties, she plays the double bass with her husband Gene on guitar. They have recorded three albums and reached success in the radio folk-music charts. But more importantly, they play at festivals, weddings, cafes, bars, listening rooms and house concerts. All of that while working full-time jobs unrelated to music. No doubt then, that throughout the last fifteen years Gayla has gathered a lot of music experience which she shares, with her passion, generously in the book.

The book targets primarily adults in the second half of life, but anyone interested in following their passion in the active music making can benefit from it greatly. The author had interviewed a number of similar musicians who have already made it into the music world, and their comments and quotes are interspersed throughout the book.

The text is divided into twelve chapters, which go from the advice for beginners to more experienced musicians. The first chapter Discover the Benefits explains in a clear and simple way why one should consider making music and what benefits that activity can bring, if done longterm and mindfully. 

Following chapters help with: choosing suitable music instruments or deciding to sing; finding a teacher; proper practicing; ear training; how to start jamming; who – where – and how to play with others; how to record your music; how to keep going and playing music for years while building your community; how to protect your health. And how to enjoy that journey as much as possible.

  Particularly helpful are links to other information, resources, and especially relevant organizations that help and support amateur music making. In the world of the fast-changing internet, you may not find all of them still relevant or even in the existence anymore — now defunct DownToJam network is just one example. But that doesn’t diminish the value of the information, because a brief internet search may reveal  many similar resources. More important is just to know, that something like that even exists.

Another highly valuable information especially for people who are just starting in the world of music making, is the proper and established etiquette. Nothing could be more scary and frustrating for someone, who has already overcome himself or herself and started playing their instrument, then to walk into a room full of strangers and absolutely not knowing what to do or how to get around. To make it much less intimidating, Gayla helps with clear advice with things like — how to prepare for a jam session, how to act once participating in one, or how to properly host a house concert. These things may sound obvious and simple, but for many potential and starting musicians they are not. 

Throughout the whole book there is one aspect that stands above almost everything else — the social aspect of music making. For example in the chapter about music jamming the author writes about how it becomes harder to meet new people later in life. Therefore playing music together is a great way to find common ground with people and have a good time. “Jams are a way to make it happen” she writes.

In the closing chapter the author writes: “Music fascinates and enthralls us. It needn’t be complex or out of reach for anyone. You needn’t have a special gift to enjoy making it. … Music begins as a sensory experience. It tickles our ears and sends blood to our feet. But it’s also the language of the heart, making us laugh, cry, rage, reflect, dance, kiss, and accept. As we age, music offers us even more. It helps us fight ennui, decline, or uncertainty. It can keep us vibrant, stretch our fingers, and refresh our minds.”

If there is this idea in your mind about getting involved in making music, about starting to play an instrument, joining a choir or hosting a house concert, I urge you to read this book. It will inspire you,  help you making that decision, will support you in first steps and will lead you through what comes after. Doesn’t matter your age or the stage of your career — making music will make your life better. And this book helps you make it happen!


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