On May 27, cities all around the U.S. will be celebrating Memorial Day with patriotic festivities to pay respect to the men and women who gave their lives for our country. And since President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Monday in May as a federal holiday in 1971, the extended weekend is also considered the beginning of the summer vacation season. Outdoor plans and warm-weather traditions are stellar opportunities to share your personal star-spangled spirit. Whether you wave a flag at a parade, sing America the Beautiful around a campfire, or bring a patriotic dish to a party, hopefully you’ll find a way to honor the meaning of the day while enjoying some long-awaited summertime fun!
Just as music can enhance a movie, a party or a spin class, it can also do the same for a greeting card. Meet Mike Murray, one of American Greetings’ very talented audio producers, and read what he has to say about his love for music and how it has become his vocation:
When did you first realize your interest in music?
My earliest interest in music was memorable because it moved right past ‘enjoying’ into a state of total obsession, which is really what defines a person who chooses a career in this field, right? I was just 4 years old, adorned in over-sized headphones, listening to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers on my parent’s hi-fi over and over again. In the unlikely form of a ballad about gambling, the music bug had bit! I remember, even at that age, being completely mesmerized by the textures, tones, layers, and overall depth of the track – and of course, the lovely and infectious melodies. That same feeling has lasted throughout my life, and in many respects, grown considerably.
What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as a musician?
My position here at American Greetings is Senior Audio Producer, which basically means I help take care of any needs relating to sound or music. After I received my first guitar–(thanks Mom and Dad!), I took lessons in classical guitar and eventually went on to graduate from the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN. During that time I became very interested in the process of not only writing music, but recording and producing it as well. This was quite possibly the most valuable part of my education, as it enabled me to bring ideas to life in the studio.
Could you tell us more about the process of integrating music into a card and its importance?
One of my favorite mediums for music is the role it plays in Motion Pictures and Television. It can truly make or break a movie or show and some of my favorite compositions are ones featured in film. I like to think of our ecards as mini-movies, and I constantly strive to write or produce music that enhances the card and compliments it!
What is it that inspires you when creating a piece of music for a greeting card?
Musical inspiration seems to come from everywhere like going to see the Cleveland Orchestra perform or seeing the latest blockbuster movie and hearing a great score. But it can also be as simple as waiting in line at the grocery store and hearing a song over the loud speakers that you like, and boom, an idea pops into your head that was inspired by what you just heard.
What’s your favorite piece/ecard ever created and why?
There was a piece we did for a Valentine’s Card called ‘My One and Only’ which was a real standout for me musically. We don’t often get to write original pop songs, but this afforded us that chance, and with the help of the editorial staff we were able to craft a song you could easily hear on the radio. The format allowed us to produce one version that was ‘ecard length’, and another, full-length version, which our customers could download upon receiving the card. We worked with a lot of great musicians during the production, and it has always stood out as a highlight for me.
What famous musicians have influenced you?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Umm…all of them? I guess it depends on the genre, but deep down my first true love is pop music, classic rock and soul to be specific, so I will always be influenced by the greats: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and the list could go on and on! I am also a huge classical fan; enjoying Chopin, Debussy, and Gershwin, to name a few.
What inspires you to create your music and how do you stay motivated?
As I said earlier, music is a huge part of my daily life, so whether it’s listening to a friend’s band play, turning on the radio, or watching a show, it’s always there to remind me of the great music being created every hour of every day. I want in on the creativity! The more I hear, the more I want to make my own mark, and create something I can be truly proud of.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I never ever want to stop growing as an artist. So, regardless of what I’m actually doing or where I’m living, although on a beach would be nice, I just hope I’m continuing to learn and enhance my musical toolkit.
What advice would you give to a musician just starting out?
I was at a music conference last year, and one of the speakers on a panel said: “a successful musician creates something new everyday”. I thought that was great advice and would definitely pass on that sentiment. In other words, don’t get complacent, always strive to create, and practice, practice, practice!!
What do you do for fun?
I play in a cover band on the weekends mostly for fun, although we do record some originals, which keeps the project fresh. I also play hockey a couple nights a week and I enjoy reading, cooking, running, and going to the movies as often as possible!
Tomorrow, we celebrate Armed Forces Day–a day to honor the men and women who serve in our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard as well as our National Guard and Reserves. This day, which is part of a week-long tribute, was first established in 1949 and stemmed from the unification of our military forces under the Department of Defense. Special dedications, parades, military exhibits, themed motorcycle rides and educational activities for children are some of the ways Armed Forces Day is acknowledged, so you’ll want to check out the local listings to see what’s happening near you. But, most important, be sure to say thanks to those who so bravely and unselfishly protect our freedom!
Keeping your friends close in heart is super important and this new greeting card assortment from Kathy Davis enables you to do that easily and sincerely. The set includes nine beautifully illustrated cards with heartfelt expressions that say “happy birthday”, “thank you” and “just thinking of you” making it easy to scatter joy on special days and every day. In addition, Kathy Davis and American Greetings have partnered with the National Guild for Community Arts Education – an organization dedicated to providing arts education to millions of students in the United States. Royalties received from this new line of cards will be donated directly to the National Guild thereby ensuring that more people have the opportunity to experience the joy of making art throughout their lives.
With all the greeting cards available for Mother’s Day, it’s usually not hard to find one for your mom, no matter how unique your relationship is. But writing a personal note might not be as easy. That’s where the creative team at American Greetings comes in. Before we write cards, we research relationships. And we’ve narrowed down the complicated, tender, strong, funny, forever love between a mother and child to give you some expert advice on just what to say to make your mom feel extra special…
Mom to Mom
Once you become a mother yourself, you have a better understanding of what your mom did for you—and now you’re also celebrating her as a grandmother! Here are some ways to express your thoughts:
For helping you become the mother you are: The highest compliment anyone can give me, Mom, is to say that I’m like you.
For the ways you’ve followed in her footsteps: I see you in things I do, I hear you in things I say—and these are some of the things I’m most proud of.
For all the stages of you’ve been through: From “Mommy” to “Grandma” you’ve always found a way to be amazing at who you are.
Mom as a Friend
Do you consider your mom a friend and confidant?–here are some great ways to express your feelings:
For the Mom you respect as a woman and/or professional: Somewhere along the way, I realized the extraordinary mom raising me was also an extraordinary woman.
For the mom you love to spend time with: You always knew just how to lift my spirits, Mom. Some things never change.
For the ways your relationship has changed…and stayed the same: My doctor, my hairdresser, my counselor, my friend…I can’t thank you enough for everything, Mom, because “everything” just keeps getting better!
Still Need Your Mom?
If your mom is still the person you count on most, be specific about what you appreciate:
For her words of wisdom: Even if you didn’t think I was listening, I live by your words every day.
For being the one you always turn to: In my heart I have every hug you ever gave me—and sometimes they still get me through.
For the example she sets: Beautiful, loving, understanding, forgiving…that’s you, Mom. And it’s who I strive to be.
For All the Moms Reading This: We wish you a well-deserved, wonderful Mother’s Day!
Mother’s Day is traditionally all about appreciating mom, giving her those carefully selected cards and presents, treating her to a nice breakfast or brunch, and then? Well, often after that, the festivities tend to slow down. This year, why not recognize her all day long, with activities you both can enjoy. Think about treating her to a day of shopping much like she did for you when you were a kid. Or, if your mom is the sporty type, join her on a bike ride or trail run and include a fun place to stop for beverages or lunch. And how about the gift of relaxation, especially if you’re a mom yourself? Yes, we all know being a parent is rewarding, but it doesn’t always come easy – let her know you understand and enjoy an afternoon spa session together. If your mom loves to be in the kitchen, there’s nothing wrong with embracing her culinary interests and working together on afun dinner – just make sure she doesn’t have to do the dishes!
As a suggestion, let your mom know to keep her day open and present your special plans for Mother’s Day in a customizable, print at home card. It’s easy and she is sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness.
There are few people more deserving of appreciation than the everyday heroes who influence our children’s daily lives and affect who they will become. Since its origination in 1944, the purpose of National Teachers Day, now expanded to National Teachers Week, is to honor teachers for their contributions to children’s success—and simply thank them for caring.
Here are some thoughtful ways for you or your child to show teacher appreciation—without breaking the piggy bank:
Store, Restaurant or Movie Gift Card
Flowers, Plants or Seeds – for their seeds of wisdom.