perfect pitch

100 Pieces of Classical Music is a book for those of us who kind of know that we should get into classical music but perhaps it can be too serious and long, and we don’t really know what we’re doing! Historian Tim Bouverie has created a compilation of 100 classical masterpieces that are sure to move, and be enjoyed by almost everyone. Some are well-known and others are hidden gems, waiting to be brought to light. All are intended to comfort and inspire, and you’ll find a short introduction to each piece, plus a recommended recording to try.

Good music is needed, and if you tire of the same-old playlists, treat yourself to one or more CDs or downloads from Putumayo, which creates the best world music compilations in the world. If you like world music, subscribe to Songlines magazine. Past Perfect offers good remastered classics from Sinatra to Garland.

Note some musical instruments are made with animal strings, so choose vegan violin strings and for harps. You can also find biodegradable guitar plectrums (avoid tortoiseshell).

switch the dial on your radio

Most of us enjoy to listen to the radio now and then, whether it’s at home or in the car. But if you’re fed up of the nonstop ads and shouty presenters and playlists of songs you are fed up of,  there are other options.

If you like world music, know that Putumayo World Music Hour is syndicated to 100 stations around the world. This record label (which creates beautifully illustrated compilations of the best world music artists) is a revelation. Once you hear this music, you likely won’t want to listen to much else!

Because mainstream radio tends to always play the same songs over-and-over, it’s worth looking for alternative methods of listening. This may be having to resort to Internet radio, unless you have really good Internet TV or high-techy radios that pick up all the channels. We like Folk Radio UK which offers nice gentle music from some of England’s best musical artists.

Easy Radio is a good website. Just go to the home page and choose the easy-listening radio station you would like to listen to, from ‘crooners’ (like Sinatra) to folk, jazz, reggae or by artist (Andrea Bocelli, Bread, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, The Carpenters). This is a find! We loved every single artist we clicked! The list goes on – Carole King, Enya, Eva Cassidy, Doris Day, Elvis, James Taylor, Perry Como, Jack Johnson.

Feeling nostalgic for yesteryear? Serenade Radio is nice, offering older music from the 30s and 40s. Unforgettable Radio is similar. When we clicked, they were playing Nat King Cole, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jnr.

Also look online for your local community radio stations. These are by local people who know the area, and often are missed by most listeners. We randomly clicked on West Kent Radio and found Sister Sledge singing a nice ditty. Waiting for the presenter to talk, he seems to just play records (no shouting or singing over the records). In fact, we gave up as all we heard was good music after good music! This is what radio should be!

wind-up, solar & free radios

If you’re out-and-about, consider investing in a wind-up radio as then you don’t have to worry about batteries. iGadgitz Xtra Wind Up Radio has in-built speakers and can also run on solar power, with USB back-up.

These emergency power radios are American (but are sold in the UK online so presumably work here fine too, as it’s only a one-time purchase). They include phone chargers and flashlights, ideal for when you’re out and about and need to listen to the weather forecast, as well as favourite music. One even has a loud siren for emergencies.

British Wireless for the Blind offers radios on free loan to those who need them, including one that stores up to 40 stations and can swiftly navigate between DAB and FM stations. Simple to use, just switch it on and it will automatically tune in available stations, and adjust the time. Then just store your favourites.

hire an acoustic (unplugged) band

Hire a local acoustic band to serenade at your special event, rather than tinny loud music by professional DJs or booming speakers. These are becoming really popular, as a way to support local indie musicians, and prevent noise pollution from booming bass sounds throughout the neighbourhood.

Music for London has more information. Acoustic concerts have no power supply, the host simply offers food and drink, and the players are paid from the donations or payment given. The sound is kept organic (these are professional musicias with talent). Most still use amplifiers so people can hear them, but the sound is not overpowering. Bands are usually 2 to 5 people and prices are consistent with hiring a professional band. This is so that talented musicians can actually make a living, rather than work in an office job they hate, and save their talent for the weekends.

Gomi Portable Charger is made from recycled bubble wrap, plastic bags, food packaging, recycled aluminium (from cars, window frames and cars) and upcycled e-bike batteries! Designed to be repaired by you in just 10 minutes, it can charge your phone up to 3 times, and charge 2 devices at once (due to USB-A and USB-C ports). It’s also lightweight and sleek, easy to fit into your pocket. This unique company also makes sound speakers from the same recycled materials.

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