6 Year-Long Gifts for Classical Musicians (That They Might Actually Use)

Once upon a time, Joe Shmoe googled “Gifts for Classical Musicians”. He clicked on a random article that showed up and to his surprise, these were some of the suggestions he got:

  • Chopin board

  • Mozart Pez dispenser

  • Musical cookie cutter

  • Musical Snow Globe etc.

Cool ideas indeed. But… what’s the likelihood that Joe, a classical pianist from Texas, will ACTUALLY use these? Will he be a better person when he cuts vegetables on a Chopin cutting board, after cringing for a couple of minutes? After using his musical cookie cutter, Joe might get compliments on his baking skills at his winter student recital but…..will his students jump out of joy when he uses his Mozart Pez dispenser to give out candy? You get my point! The best gifts are not only thoughtful and personalized, but they add value to people’s lives.

Here is a list of 6 gifts that add value to my life:

  1. Productivity Planner

I am deeply inspired by Intelligent Change products, so I found a unique use for their Productivity Planner. This planner is not your typical to do list, so I would not recommend it as a personal agenda. Instead, I have started using it as a practice journal to help me prioritize and accomplish the most important practice goals of that day. As they say it on their website, “Quality over quantity”. The planner is combined with the Pomodoro Technique, which you can read more about on their website.

In my case, I write down my first priority that day as specific as I can. For example, instead of writing “Work on the problem spots of the development of Sonata X”, I will write “Practice from m.42-93 in 3 different tempo markings: bpm= 70, 90 and 120”. If you already do something similar to this, you do not have to have the Productivity Planner. I enjoy it particularly for the nice design, the great quotes and the feeling of accountability.

2. Music Store Credit

You can gift Joe Shmoe a giftcard with iTunes credit, but I am not sure if he will find reliable Horowitz performances of Scarlatti on there. Instead, you could gift Joe a gift card from the local music store. Why is this a good idea? a) you support local business and b) Joe prefers Henle editions instead of downloading them from IMSLP. That’s how he feels professional and is less likely to lose page 13 multiple times. On the other hand, Joe could use that credit to purchase method books from Alfred, Faber or whatever his heart desires. My favorite music store is Moore Music Company located in Greensboro, NC, where I lived for 6 years. The staff is super super super super super nice, helpful and knowledgeable!

3. Concert Tickets

If Joe had a nickel for each time he wanted to attend performances at San Francisco Opera or insert major performance hall here, he would actually had enough money to pay for a ticket. Did you know that classical music costs a lot of money? Yes, there are free performances, student discounts etc, but when Lang Lang is in town, they go for the big bucks. Maybe if we made the tickets cheaper, than Joe, as a proud and successful plebeian, can attend a concert and not feel bad for buying that ticket for 50 dollars instead of the Beethoven Violin Sonatas, the Henle edition.

4. TwoSet Violin Merchandise

if you are a musician and do not follow TwoSetViolin, you have no idea what you’re missing. Also, if you are not a musician and do not follow these guys, you have no idea what you’re missing.

These are great conversation starters for the following situations:

a) You are a freshman and want to be taken seriously at the first day of 8am Music Theory Class

b) You want somebody from across the practice hall to instagram your sweater with the caption “mood”

c) You also are familiar with TwoSet Violin

Here are my top 3 videos: 1, 2, 3.


5. My boyfriend is a jazz bassist, so I had to put something for jazz peeps here. He suggested transcription books, but I feel like this is kind of lame. Suggestions?

6. Cash

Most important of all, please give a musician CASH so we can pay for our music lessons. Some of university faculty people charge 90 per hour. That’s a weekly grocery trip for Joe at his local Whole Foods!!!!

Bonus Point: Every gift makes people feel loved, no matter if it’s a 5 dollar Starbucks gift card, a cute mug, personalized cards etc. The suggestions above are what I would gift to musicians on a good day or might prefer myself. HINT HINT MOM :)

Disclaimer: I wrote this at a Starbucks, while Pachelbel’s Canon in D was playing, which affects the musician’s brain in so many different ways. Therefore, you are advised to process this information with caution.