In this age of nano-second attention spans and young eyes continually glued to glowing palms, with the holiday season fast approaching, if, during this holiday season, you are doing any shopping at all for young relatives or family friends - I'm talking kids here - I humbly suggest that you consider getting them a musical instrument.
No, not some state-of-the-art digital doo-hickey that approximates an actual instrument, I'm talking the real deal here - something made out of wood; a guitar, drum set, piano or a woodwind. Now, before you tell me pianos are expensive, let me blow your mind by informing you the last one I got was found under a "FREE STUFF" listing on Craigslist. Seems people would rather give them away these days than take them along when they move, or they decide to put some shelves where the piano used to be.
On one hand, that's an absolutely sad state of affairs, but it's an absolute god-send for those of us who are on a budget and WANT a piano, especially an upright one!
By putting an actual instrument in a young mind's hands, you might literally be helping that kid find the one thing they were meant to do. Even if they wind up trading that instrument for the one that they were meant to find (like Eddie Van Halen did when he traded his drum set for brother Alex's guitar), you will have helped in the process.
At the very least, you may actually help provide that child with an appreciation for living, breathing instruments that connect with the soul. Now, I love my DAW as much as the next music nerd, but there's no soul in it after all the dots on the piano roll have been quantized.
What do you think the tech landscape will look like by the time that child becomes an adult? They could very well be the first generation to be raised completely unaware of the existence of traditional instrumentation.
And you can't blame them, really, when you can get pretty convincing guitar approximations from a free app on your phone.
See, behind every musical genius, there is a foundation of tradition upon which their greatness is based. The reason the Iggy Azaleas of the world will prove to be nothing more than flamboyant sand castles at high tide is because their foundation (she sites the girl-group TLC as her biggest musical influence) is weak to non-existent.
By comparison, a Mumford & Sons, whose influences and appreciation for tradition are evident in every fiber of their being (even if some consider it a pose) and, after their chart-topping days are done, will see their music continue to connect with future generations 20-30 years from now.
The future of the world is at stake here.
Okay, maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but I can tell you without hesitation that, even though I asked for Pong (our Xbox of the day) in my letter to Santa, the fact that I got a drum set instead created a relationship with the instrument that remains to this day. I couldn't imagine still playing Pong at this point, could you?