by Jeff Scheetz, TrueFire’s Director of Education

Now more than ever we are surrounded by (some might say bombarded with) music every day. Rather than just letting it wash over you or soak your brain, how can you take all this wonderful music that is available and put it to good use? Here are 5 ways that music can better your life.

1. Play Music

There is great satisfaction in playing a musical instrument. Whether you take it to virtuoso level, or just want to play to amuse your kids, (or annoy your parents) ANYONE can learn to play something! Want to learn to play guitar? A site like TrueFire has over 22,000 video guitar lessons to teach you! You can stream them, download to your desktop, or play on your mobile device, allowing you to learn anywhere.

YouTube is a great source for learning the basics of many instruments whether it is the Native American Flute, or just the good old Piano. Also, buying an instrument is no longer a matter of having to find the right local shop that has it, but rather it can easily be delivered to your front door from Guitar Center.

2. Create Music

Once you learn to play that instrument, it’s time to write some songs! There is no better way to express yourself than to put your creative hat on and put together your own tunes. Even if you decided not to learn an instrument you can still get in on the creative aspect of music with software like Sony Acid and apps for your phone like Figure that allow you to put loops and chord changes together without knowing anything about how to actually play.

Even if you just throw down some beats and plunk out a simple melody you will be amazed at how liberating and therapeutic it is to send some of your own vibrations out into the Universe. We are not talking Beethoven’s 5th here – just some fun. As Gusteau said in Ratatouille – “Anyone can Cook”, likewise thanks to technology “Anyone can Jam”.

3. Move to Music

There are two levels of engaging with music. Either you passively listen to it, or you actively interact with it. Interacting can come in many ways. You can dance to it, you can play it and groove while playing, you can listen while working out or running where you pace yourself to it, you can worship to it at church, you can sing along while riding in the car with friends, I do freestyle routines with my disc dogs to music.

While there are times when just chillin’ out in your favorite chair as you listen to tunes is a great thing to do, I believe music is often enjoyed on a much deeper level when you interact with it. Don’t be afraid to partake in any of the above, many people refrain from letting themselves get into the music because they are concerned with what other people might think of them or they are afraid they won’t have rhythm and look foolish. Nonsense!! Never let someone else’s possible opinion stop you from being you! As the saying goes “Dance like nobody’s watching”. Amen.

4. Seek Music

Finding new music is easier than ever thanks to our connected society. There are websites dedicated to exposing you to new music from unknown artists like Reverbnation or The Music Ninja. There are streaming sites that will suggest bands based on what you tell them you like to listen to like Pandora.

If you want purchasing suggestions, iTunes or Amazon will give you more than you can digest. Even YouTube is a great source of finding new music and new artists. So don’t just sit around and wait for someone to tell you what you should listen to (although asking friends to recommend some new tunes is helpful as well) but go forth and actively search it out.

5. Share Music

The greatest gifts are the ones you give away. That is certainly true for music. Since music can often move people on a deep soulful level, it really is a powerful gift. Take all those new bands that you have discovered and share them with friends by sending a link to their website.

Spreading the word about new cool music to friends also has the added benefit of promoting the band or artists, which is a feel great, good deed in itself. Helping spread good art makes a serious deposit in your altruistic bank account of Karma!

So whether you play it or listen to it, engaging with all the music the world has to offer will definitely enrich your life! What are some ways YOU use music to brighten your day?