Learn your trade.

I saw this piece of street art earlier today. It features some good advice from W. B. Yeats…which can apply equally to musicians.


The first half of the quote tells us that to learn our trade, it pays to sing whatever is well made (i.e. as a musician – the stuff to which you enjoy listening, the stuff which you would like to be able to play).

Sing it, play it, learn the chords, the melody, the phrasing, the solos you like, improvise over it yourself. The more you do of this, the more you will find yourself taking what you like, leaving what you don’t like, and hence forming your own playing/singing style.

I don’t think the word ‘not’ should be there on Line 3 – hence it should read ‘Scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top’. Here Yeats is disparaging of some more modern poetry, and is discouraging young poets from learning from these.

Again likewise as a musician, if you don’t like something, then don’t play it, don’t learn it, and then the chances of it getting into your playing are nil. Whatever you think is well made though, eat it up!


I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.

One thought on “Learn your trade.

  1. Hi Kieran, Hope all is well with you? As you probably know, the 30th Sligo International Choral Festival takes place next weekend! I am really disappointed that, to celebrate their 30th Anniversary, the new committee (for economic reasons I believe) have no Official Opening, no V. I. P. Guests/s and no Opening Concert. I can”t believe it! About 6/8 months ago, I suggested that they contact you with a view to having one of your Theme Nights as the Opening Concert – not even a response from the committee! Also, they cannot continue to call it an “International” Festival if they don’t invite overseas International Choirs! I am sure you will agree! It is such a pity! John Ryan R.I.P and following on, I, with my committee, built it up to be the 2nd biggest Choral Festival in the 32 counties. Now, it saddens me to see Derry & Mayo passing us out! In my 27 years on the committee and 20 of those “in the chair”, we made a slight profit or broke even every year except one – that was the year I was due to retire. So I stayed on for 1 more year and we turned a loss of €9,000 into a profit of €14,000 – so a turnaround of €23,000! Then I retired! Now I just do some compereing. I just thought I would share the above with you (only) so please keep it to yourself! Kindest regards, Joe


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