Thanks to the wonder of recordings, American culture is saturated with music. For better or worse, Americans are a musical people, and although most of us don't make our own music on a regular basis, a good percentage of us try. And (probably the one benefit of celebrity worship) musical ability is still largely admired and coveted - most Americans would like to be proficient in singing or playing an instrument, and this generates millions of music lessons, thousands of instruments sold yearly, and hundreds of American Idol auditions.
When we moved to our new house, we had a housewarming party where we invited a local homeschool family who has a bluegrass band, The Woodhouse Band, to entertain. They came gladly, and "sang for their supper" -- they brought music instead of a potluck dish. It was a wonderful party, and the beginning of a warm partnership. Now we regularly invite them and other musical friends to our parties, and what a joy it is to have them!
There is something about live music -- music created on the spot for one moment in time -- that the best digital or analog recording can never capture. It's more subtle, more unique, more immediately present. At a time when media saturation can dull the senses, a skilled musician in front of you can awaken them again, and let you hear.
At our parties, our musical friends situate themselves in a friendly corner (usually a spot in the shade outside, or in the alcove near our laundry room indoors), and just play along in the background, using only natural amplification, having fun with their own selection of tunes. We had such a good time listening to the Woodhouse Band at my husband's birthday party this past weekend, I'm making a suggestion: next time you plan an event, make sure to invite a musician. Most of us know a skillful student musician or a friend with a musical hobby. Ask them if they'd be willing to "sing for their supper." A surprising amount of them are!