Thursday, April 23, 2009

Staycation idea: Hobby time

For Christmas, my 3-year-old got a guitar from his grandparents. Not a full size guitar, but one big enough that he can strum it, sing Wiggles songs, and accidentally bang it into his bedroom wall. When he’s a few years older, I’m going to take guitar lessons with him.

Maybe we’ll take the lessons during a staycation, because that’s a great time to start learning an instrument. You’ll have time to take professional lessons, practice, and decide whether you want to continue. Links to instructors for instruments, as well as voice lessons, can be found for your hometown at Group music lessons are also offered through city recreation departments and as continuing education courses at community colleges. Music stores –- the ones that sell instruments, not CDs –- also have bulletin boards with music teachers seeking students.

Other popular hobbies include photography, sewing, pottery-making, and painting, and you can find classes and clubs to get you started in any of them. Another easy hobby to get into is video editing. Camcorders are all digital now, so any video you shoot can be edited on a computer. It allows you to cut out the boring, jiggly, hard-to-watch stretches of video, leaving you with a shorter video you’ll actually have time to watch. Even better, editing allows you to add text to your videos, graphics, special effects, narration and music. You can feel like your making a movie, or at least a music video.

It’s also cheap and easy. Personal computers come loaded with Windows Movie Maker, and if you’re a Mac user, you’ve got iMovie on your computer. It’s easy to learn, and the results are very rewarding. If you shoot an hour’s worth of staycation footage, you can save all the raw video and also create a five- or ten-minute montage of the best moments. Add in some still photos and some background music – “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, perhaps – and you’ll have a great memento of your staycation. It can also be e-mailed out to friends or posted on a video sharing site such as YouTube.

*** "The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)" is now available. You can find it in stores or online.

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