But if You Hum a Few Bars

At this time of year many people are tempted to pull out the tarnished sax hiding under their beds or dust off the old ivories to see if their after-school piano lessons can be resurrected. But what to play? "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" can get a little tired after the second or third time through.

Never fear - Multnomah County Library has one of the best collections of sheet music anywhere around.

For instance, maybe you'd like to know what the kids were singing in the 90's - the 1890's, that is. Take a look at Songs of the Gilded Age, which includes such great tunes as "Elsie from Chelsea" and that old favorite "She is More to be Pitied, than Censured", not to mention "Where Did you Get that Hat?".

Perhaps your instrument is your voice. Then maybe you'll want to check out the American Idol Presents series - complete with sheet music and CD accompaniment. You're sure to be a star in your own living room.

Or maybe you'd like to rock out and take it up to elevenThe Zen of Screaming might come in handy. It's a training program for rock singers "to preserve their vocal cords without compromising their passion."

You say you and your friends would like to present a musical tribute to Lady Gaga? Here's the place to start

According to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, it will only take you 10,000 hours of practice to become just as good a guitarist as Etta Baker was. This instructional DVD might even cut it down to 9,500 hours. 

After all, as the writer, Alexander McCall Smith asked, in a recent New York Times article, "why should real musicians — the ones who can actually play their instruments — have all the fun?"