The cold is here and there is hardly a better reason to retreat to the old armchair, with a cup of hot cocoa and your coziest socks. As the winter lingers on through, that armchair starts to feel all too routine, and the snow we looked at so lovingly for the Holidays starts to feel like white walls holding us back from the warmth and beauty of summer in the Northwoods. This latter half of winter is where most of us are forced to be creative with our time. Some folks take to the ice for fishing, or hit the trails for cross country skiing and snowmobiling, all fantastic pastimes that help pass the dull hours. However even after all of that, the dull hours remain....It is here that I propose the cure for "cabin fever"....... master an instrument! Those three words and the action that accompanies them can have far more implications than one could ever imagine. Pick up that guitar that's been staring at you from the corner of the room, or buy that piano you've been thinking about and learn to play. The benefits are infinite. Not only does it tick away the moments that make up a dull day, you're actually teaching your brain to function differently. According to research by Dr. Eric Rasmussen, the Chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, "The brain of a musician works differently than that of a non-musician. The simple fact is, when you're a musician playing music, you have to use more of your brain." This brain activity has a wide variety of benefits as you can imagine, and every time you play it's like a workout for your brain. Though this doesn't necessarily translate to musicians being "smarter", it enhances your understanding of the world and art. This typically leads the musically minded to be more thirsty for information, which almost always open the doorway to other hobbies. For example, it's not uncommon for musicians to take their craft a step farther and begin learning how to build the instruments they are playing. This opens the door to a whole new world of activity and as you can see the snowball effect only increases from there. There is so much more to music than just cool instruments and pretty sounds, and for those who take the journey the rewards are endless. So whether you become a musician, a craftsmen, or a collector, rests entirely in your hands this winter. Rather than watching the clock and counting down the days til Spring, expand your mind and take the leap further into music!