There’s something intriguing about creating an idea quick and dirty from scratch. That’s why I’m a fan of hackathons: you get 24 hours to create a project about anything.
The most boring hackathon I have ever attended was when a bunch of doctors sat around and ate finger biscuits while they chatted about their patients’ problems — for goodness sakes, if no one is stressed, then it’s not a true hackathon.
I’ve heard from about fifty different doctors now that if you create a ‘physical activity tracking app’, you will “solve diabetes” or “decrease obesity” or some other sort of magic trick. Hi, can you google “fitbit”?
Doctors tell you about the flaws in their patients’ treatments and conditions though, which are good for working with. For example, after a while, breast cancer survivors become too lazy to get screened again. Or, for some tests, the length of time between getting screened and getting results is ridiculous. We put health science people together with engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs, at our hackathon, and got some great projects.
So, a hackathon is about getting the right people in the same room together and giving them the right tools to achieve a goal the dirty way. In music terms, this is like jamming in someone’s garage and coming up with a great song just because you were in the right place at the right time.
I put together a FAQ about organizing a hackathon, focused on logistics, which will give you a peek into the effort that goes towards a large-scale hackathon!
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One evening after work, I wander into the new Tom Lee store that I see from my office everyday and slip into the fancy glass room that’s filled with acoustic pianos. No one pays attention to me in my t-shirt and jeans.
I play cadences on pianos that I pass by, until I stop at one to play for a short while.
“Can I help you find something?”
“No, I’m just looking,” I say, gesturing with my chin. “Baby grands.”
“You are obviously pretty good,” he says. “That was, you know, Liszt.”
I nod. I didn’t know that was Liszt. I thought I got lucky pressing the keys.
He gestures to another piano nearby — which happens to be a cheaper Steinway brand. I play it for a little bit and realize the keys are too light.
“Want to play a Steinway?”
He walks over towards one and pulls out the bench, like at a restaurant. How do I get rid of him?
There’s so much fun music out there and I love when people send me good music. So, for a change, I asked my friend Molly to share 6 piano solos that brighten her day, and here’s what she says about them.
The sun may be shining and the summer months are quickly approaching, but sometimes we all need a little bit of extra day-brightening. Stress doesn’t take a summer vacation, and where I’m from, May means it’s still raining often.
Music can be a cure for a lot of things. More specifically, upbeat music. Empowering music.
Even if you’re already feeling good, these solo piano covers are worth checking out because they exude good vibes to put a smile on my face every single time!
Happy – Pharrell Williams
What could make someone more happy than a piano solo that is literally titled ‘Happy’?
Right before my flight to Mexico, I played beach volleyball because I couldn’t resist: Vancouver’s first non-rainy day in ages.
I come home unable to bend my foot, like it’s a giant lego foot. I am becoming sort of an eccentric travel figure suffocating under the weight of everyone’s opinion. Everyone thinks I should’ve gone to a resort in Cancun.
But there is something magical about experiencing a way of life that is so different from mine. If I incorporate some good into my life from each of my travels, then I’d get a bit wiser by the end of it all.
That’s how I found myself at my first dinner in Tulum, sitting on a stump of wood, eating the best veggie burger I’ve had in my life while barefoot reggae musicians in hip-length dreads set up their drums and guitar and mic and start singing lilting Spanish tunes.
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Being alone for my birthday stresses me out. This realization is new, because once upon a time, I used to crave precious alone time. My family is away and my best friends are at work but I promise that your girl is not whining for a babysitter.
I look for activities that don’t involve being alone (and sad) at home watching movies.
Thinking about my dad, for example, is an activity that makes me sad in the end, but I don’t want to tell myself to not think about him. But I know if I’m alone then it will come up.
I don’t want to be dependent on anything for my own happiness, but right now, I need to be constantly focused on an activity. It’s like if you’re performing classical music onstage, and the audience is distracting. You do anything to ignore the audience because it’s irrelevant to delivering your music; you play Chopin the same way whether the audience is asleep or humming along.
“Don’t worry,” a buddy says. “We’ll do something on your birthday. So you won’t be alone.”
“If you forget,” I say, “I’ll be very sad.”
But I’m pretty sure he will forget, because that’s how he is.
I love classical, but I don’t listen to it often these days because it never fits. For example, I wouldn’t do crunches to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
So I’ll open up my Spotify and show you what’s on my top 7. All of these have great melodies (as pop and house music tend to), so I’ve also included the piano sheet music if available. I hope this playlist makes your day brighter!
Paris – Chain Smokers
It’s just plain catchy! This guy playing piano is a piano student who’s gone on tour with the Chain Smokers because they noticed his videos!
I’m getting a new fridge because my old one started leaking.
What do my broken fridge and piano practice have in common? Let me explain.
We push the fridge out of the cabinet and I’m trying to disconnect the water line with a wrench. Am I supposed to twist the top or bottom part? I don’t know but I try both and neither work.
“Get me pliers!” I shout.
My sister hands me the needlenose pliers and for goodness’ sake even I know that’s not what needlenose pliers are for.
So I’m using a wrench to twist the nut–it fits around the nut but it won’t move at all, solid like if you tried to collapse a wall with your body.
Shit, I’m not strong enough.
I’ve seen my dad twist things and it looked so simple.
So I’m just standing around feeling bad about myself because the nut didn’t even wiggle a little.
Later, the handyman comes, and uses these large pliers that I’ve seen my dad use, to twist the nut. It comes loose in seconds.
Oh, I think to myself, I just needed the right pliers, not superhuman strength.
How many times have we been using a wrench to twist at problems when all we needed was the right pliers?
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