“Songs from our past – memory anchors” 

If someone asked you to name a song that had an impact on your life and have you describe what that event was and when, would it be easy for you to come up with one?

Songs have a huge impact on all of our lives and most of us can recall a particular period in our lives because of a special song that “anchors” that memory. Some have told me of a love song that they remember at a time when they fell for that high school sweetheart, or a heartbreak song they heard that reminded them of their crush telling them they are “breaking it off”. Perhaps you remember the song that you and your loved one danced to at your wedding, or the song that helped you deal with the death of a family member or friend. Regardless of the actual song and the event that you linked to it, these two things will be forever etched in your mind as connected.


One song that is forever etched in my memory is “Your Song” written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and performed by the amazing Elton John. As a young piano player who was taking classical lessons at the time, I had decided at the moment that I first heard that song that I wanted to be a songwriter, rather than spend my days performing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (although that is a beautiful instrumental tune). I will always remember this tune as it was one that I transcribed onto staff paper from the listening to the record (yes, vinyl) and is still a song that I know today, some 40 years later.  I continue to be a fan of all popular music, especially songs that have piano based melodies. Go figure.

Now it is your turn…..

If you were asked to come up with a song that brings back a particular memory in your mind, or influenced your life in some way, what song would it be, and what is the event that is triggered by that tune?

Create and conquer,


  • Posted on 5. March 2015
  • Written by melodyman
  • Categories: Uncategorized
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“Songs and their inspirations”

Every song idea, whether the end-result is going to be promoted commercially or not, comes from an inspiration. Sometimes songs are created using fictitious characters and events, but every songwriter will always create their tunes with some personal experience in mind.

Below are some examples of songs that were written with direct personal experience and the events or people that inspired them:

“The thrill is gone” – BB King  – about his 2nd divorce

“Tears in heaven” – Eric Clapton – about his son who died in 1991

“Fire and Rain” – James Taylor – an autobiography chronicling his struggle with depression, substance abuse and fame

“Unconditionally” – Katy Perry – inspired by her boyfriend John Mayer and a trip she made to Africa.


“Come Together” – The Beatles – a campaign song John wrote for Timothy Leary, who was running for president

“Come Together” – The Beatles – a campaign song John wrote for Timothy Leary, who was running for president

“Oh, Carol” – Neil Sedaka’s – written for his high school girlfriend Carole King

“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder – song about the birth of his daughter

Sometimes songs are created by songwriters that may have specific people in mind when creating the heroes, heroines, antagonists or protagonists, but they are actually fictitious characters intentionally.

Here are some song examples that are about fictitious characters:

“Me and Bobby McGee” – written by Kris Kristofferson, performed by Janis Joplin

“Veronica” – Elvis Costello – celebrating life about a typical heroine

Do you have a favourite song that depicts a character, either real or fictitious? Share it with me…..   In the meantime, continue to

Create and conquer,


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“Music education is the key to success”

We have heard it before. The music education makes kids smarter. As kids, many of us experienced music as a strong connector between the left and right sides of the brain – having the artistic side (right) talk to the scientific side (left) and allowing these two side of the brain to communicate on a subconscious level. Then as we grew older, we knew how much music affected us, on an emotional level, regardless of whether or not we took music lessons or not. Some of us were fortunate enough to have music programs delivered in our elementary and secondary schools and others extended their music lessons beyond the school day and took private lessons on piano, guitar, voice or other instruments we had picked up in school.

There are national and regional associations that foster excellent music programs in schools right across Canada and the United States as well as in other parts of the world. The associations strive to be a voice for music educators and music programs and are often able to provide the public information of how and why these programs are important.

Music education has been linked to young people achieving higher results in other academics, including Sciences, Math, English, History, Sports and other subjects.


I have the great privilege of bringing great musical artists / songwriters into elementary and secondary school classrooms across Canada and have found that not only do the student benefit from these experiences, but the teachers and schools benefit as well.

The musical artists have said the experience working with young people is incredible and gives them a renewed energy to create more. It is no wonder that musical artists continue to seek out opportunities to present in front of young audiences everywhere.

Bob Ezrin (Producer of many great rock albums including Pink Floyd’s The Wall) says that “Music education demonstratively improves student academic achievement, behaviour and attitude. Through music, kids learn how to have constructive relationships with other people, how focus counts, how application produces results, how to dream and most of all, how to feel true joy.”

Perhaps that is why academics and educators all over the world are doing their best to ensure that music programs and music education continues in their schools and communities.

I am fortunate enough to be on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Music Education in Canada www.musicmakesus.ca an organization that raises the awareness and understanding of the role that music education plays in Canadian culture, and promotes the benefits that music education brings to young people.

Music Makes us celebrates MUSIC MONDAY, which is the first Monday in May every year. Canadian Space Agency Astronaut and musician Commander Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson co-wrote the song for Music Monday 2013; officially titled I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing). The song was commissioned by CBCMusic.ca and The Coalition for Music Education to celebrate music education in schools across Canada.

Here is a video of the May 6th , 2013 event at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa2hqlllPsc

Want to know what others think about the power of music education? See this article in the New York Times about music being the key to some powerful individuals’ success.


I have often wondered if music is simply the basis for every human experience…..hmmmmmmm

Is music the key to your success? Tell me your story.

Create and conquer,


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PIC1“Collaboration – an under-rated activity?” 

The best-seller “Think and Grow Rich” is a book written by Napoleon Hill and tells stories of hugely successful individuals that have gained much wealth. One of the important lessons from this book is the philosophy and concept of collaboration through something he refers to as the Master Mind. The “Master Mind” is defined in the book as: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose. No individual may have great power without availing himself of the “Master Mind.”

In songwriting, most pop songs are written by several songwriters, usually 2-4 individuals all of whom each have their own life experiences to bring to the co-writing session. This group of writers typically have a collective experience that is expanded by their friends and family and as a result can often offer insight into a song idea that any one individual songwriter cannot provide. Collaboration is an under-rated activity. Many feel that they want to do things themselves or “don’t need the help” and that they are able to do things on their own, when the act of sharing with another can often bring new ideas

Motown Records was an American record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan and was built on the concept of collaboration. With greats like The Miracles (Smokey Robinson), The Marvelettes, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and many more, Motown encouraged these great artists to collaborate on each others songs and recordings to produce stellar results.

Moral of the story…..even though you are quite creative and capable of doing things yourself, don’t ever be afraid to collaborate.

Create and conquer,


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“Under promise, over deliver” 

Have you attended a concert and felt that you paid more than what you thought the artist delivered?

How many times have you felt that the service you received in a restaurant or retail store was +perhaps, well… let’s just say….less than you deserved?

From my experience, whether in commission sales, developing programs or selling a product or service, it usually does not take much to impress prospective clients or customers. I have always had the motto, “under promise, over deliver”. This simple message always has served me well, as it guarantees the client or customer is going to have his or her expectations exceeded.

In other words, you have prepared them for a certain end result and you have surprised them because you have given them more than they expected. Sometimes this can be a simple thank you card, gift basket after they have purchased a product or service from you, and sometimes it is simply giving the customer more of your time than you had promised.

People see through the “car salesman” technique of promising things that cannot be delivered – or promising certain features when they forget to tell you these “special features will cost you more money. It is all about expectations! Effective communication of your expectations and theirs will give you the opportunity to not only MEET their expectations, but to EXCEED them.

So next time you plan to communicate with a prospective client, customer, spouse, friend or family member, don’t forget this simple rule as it will serve you well.

Have a story about exceeding expectations? Please share it with me. In the meantime,

Create and conquer,


Don Quarles is a strategist, composer, songwriter, author, sailor, ski enthusiast, piano and ukulele player, musical geek and father to three terrific grown kids.

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