Exercise • Retire happy • Serengeti uncovered  
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Behold Brendan Byrne, who ran last year's Dublin City Marathon while playing ukulele THE WHOLE TIME. Read his hilarious tale, replete with repertoire details.
I know that you'll be inspired to do a marathon after reading it, and coincidentally this article published a week ago by professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, Wendy A. Suzuki, looks at the proven benefits of exercise to long term memory and the (left and right) hippocampi, brain structures that are essential for long term memory and one of the only two areas where new brain cells are made throughout our lives. Dr Suzuki is also publishing a book, due out in March entitled Healthy Brain Happy Life.
I'll try and remember to mention it around then...
Why the ukulele could be the secret to a happy retirement
I love the way studies are done for what sometimes seem to be the most obvious outcomes. But assumptions are not necessarily where evidence lies! A study done by the University of London in 2011 found that out of a range of activities, making music with others is the one that contributes the most to improving quality of life for older people. 

"The year-long study found that the music-makers generally had a more positive outlook and a stronger sense of being in control of their lives. They also appeared to have more positive relationships with other people and derived more enjoyment from their group sessions than those taking part in other activities.

Harmony did not always reign in the music groups that the researchers observed. For example, some older people were reluctant to experiment with unfamiliar musical genres such as reggae or electronic music."
While we're on the brain train, an Australian researcher has noted that creative pursuits, those that use multiple parts of the brain (and we know that playing music does exactly that) "...protect people against dementia, improve the rehabilitation of stroke victims and soothe the symptoms of people with Parkinson's disease."
One more great reason to all play music (but maybe not reggae or electronica). Read about it here.
Serengeti Revealed
After last week's Resonate, some of you were probably thinking I was a few strings short of a chord. Here is the explanation of Sweet Home Serengeti which may help restore faith in my sanity.
I've been trawling through the books Yellow Elephant and How To Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours, by four time Australian Memory Champion and Memory Coach, Tansel Ali. Tansel's other claim to fame is memorising the Sydney Yellow Pages in 24 days for a marketing campaign!
The books detail a number of techniques for memorising things, mostly lists and numbers, but they can be applied to anything. One of their overarching themes is visualisation, as people remember numbers, letters and lists if there are actions, events, emotions, colours, even tastes and smells associated with them. Working out a system to quickly remember songs complete with chords and lyrics is still a work in progress as they are quite complex, but some lend themselves to learning more easily.
In Sweet Home Serengeti there are three chords - Baboon (Bb), Elephant with big flat feet (Eb) and Flamingo (F), supplied in the diagrams at any rate. Main baboon is a bar of Bb, his brother a second bar, his cousin bar 3 and friend bar 4. Flat-footed elephant's first and second steps are 2 bars of Eb; Baboon and his brother exchanging a glance, then cousin and friend doing the same are another 2 bars of Bb. Flamingo's honk is a bar of F, trumpeting Elephant stamping one foot is a bar of Eb finished off by Flamingo (F) yelling the turnaround. It's 12 bar blues in Bb.
That's just the way I imagined the chords, and a story to recall their progression and duration, but everyone will have images and stories that have particular meaning for them. It feels a bit nutty at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes as your creativity gets used to thinking up weird and wonderful stories or chains of events which link back to the info you want to remember. The weirder and more wonderful and even disastrous they are, the easier they are to remember!
Eagles - 1979 The Long Run
Not another one
Unfortunately, Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey took permanent leave this week. Here is a clip of the band playing The Long Run and you can join in with the song sheet in the people's key of C (thank you Frey and Henley). The intro riff is largely made up of C major pentatonic scale notes and that's a good start for some soloing at the end too.
Gotta love a great song that uses C, F, Am & G7
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